And everybody's at fault. "The clients are at fault because they
approve the work. The agencies are at fault because they sell it to
the clients. I was fortunate to work with people who understood the
dynamics of the Super Bowl. First, Nike [and] Pepsi, and then Anheuser-Busch
learned from Pepsi."
But Joe always had good -- if feisty -- relationships with the
creative people during his shoots. "One of the things that was
always great about my relationship with creative people was our
… conflict. I've always equated a lot of what we did with a
team sport, and when you're in the locker room things are going to
go on, but nobody outside the locker room is going to know. I had
horrendous fights with a lot of creative people about their
work…not fights, but we would go toe-to-toe.
"Nowadays, there seems to be an order of when somebody brings
you an idea they think it's perfect, and when you question any part
of the idea they panic."
Why? I asked. "I'm not aware of the corporate mentality in
advertising agencies now, but I do know that it's become
commoditized. Before, it was entrepreneurial. Hal Riney fired
Ernest Gallo. Ernest Gallo was driving him crazy. I can say this
because they're both dead."
Hal Riney handled the Bartles & Jaymes wine cooler account
for Gallo Wineries, most famously the spots featuring faux founders
Frank Bartles and Ed Jaymes. "What Hal was doing was taking every
meeting he ever had with Ernest Gallo and putting it into the
commercial…into the mouths of these two buffoons. I can't
imagine that Ernest Gallo didn't understand that when he saw the
But then middle-management people at Gallo intervened and
started telling Hal how to write the commercials, Joe told me. They
wanted to show "young people frolicking on the beach." Finally,
with Ernest saying "silly things about the script and the
middle-management people pushing for change," Hal Riney resigned
the account. "That wouldn't happen today," Joe contended.
Joe attended art school for a dozen years, but his father pushed
him to get a degree in engineering. So Joe went to engineering
school for a couple of years at the University of Pittsburgh "and
it was the most evil thing ever."
Joe left school for a job at a film laboratory, and learned
editing, animation and other related crafts, but he wanted to
become a filmmaker.
Joe has worked with great ad writers like Phil Dusenberry and
great stars like Michael Jackson and Madonna. Joe recalled that
Madonna got very angry because she didn't have the director she
wanted, and she told Joe: "I ain't dancing and I ain't singing."
But Joe hired as choreographer Vince Paterson, who'd been one of
the dancing fighters in Michael Jackson's "Beat It" video.
When Madonna saw the choreography of the background dancers, she
wanted to meet Vince and she wound up dancing. She and Vince worked
together for quite a while "and he taught her about her body and
totally transformed her…actually switched her career around,
and she became sexier, more aware of her body, more aware of the
formality of dance."
Joe said the simplest commercial he ever did was Pepsi's
"Security Camera" commercial, in which a Coke delivery guy gets
caught on the security monitor trying to quietly grab a Pepsi but
is foiled when cans come tumbling out of the cooler. "That was
easy. I turned the camera on, turned the camera off. That was
The spot originally didn't have the cans falling, Joe said. When
the Pepsi team came out to L.A. to shoot it, Joe told them the spot
was "kind of a dog."
"So it was one of those fights we talked about. And I used to
use the term 'bow-wow' with these guys, because it's shorthand and
I don't have to say 'this sucks.' And we came up with the cans
Joe says the ultimate commercial is when it's so stylish you don't
have to put the product in it.
"But right now I don't see anything [like that]. Pepsi stuff has
been hit or miss for the past few years. There goes that account.
The beer stuff looks all the same. Car stuff is all the same.
"That's as much as I care to say," he added. "Do you have another