Joe Baratelli

The moment Joe Baratelli saw the Saturday Night Live "More Cowbell" spoof of VH1's Behind the Music, he knew his advertising campaign for the series had achieved its goal-capturing the attention of national audiences.

"It's always great when your work becomes part of pop culture," laughed Baratelli, the senior vice president/creative director at Rubin Postaer and Associates (RPA) in Santa Monica. "The trick to generating campaigns that resonate with viewers is to target them at multiple touch points, so they get the story we are trying to tell as a cumulative effect.

"The marketing landscape is so different now. With the Internet, YouTube, e-mail, texting, iTunes, DVRs, video on demand and so forth, it's like everyone has their own way to consume their entertainment and communicate. The challenge is reaching people.

"In some respects it can be more targeted in that there is more data to slice and dice. But at the same time I believe broad reach is still important; mass events like the Super Bowl or the Oscars are still going to be the places to reach a lot of people at once."

After graduating with a degree in Graphics Communication from CCS, Baratelli began his advertising career at Young & Rubicam in Dearborn where he worked on the Lincoln-Mercury account before joining the Herman Design Group to work on a campaign for Comerica Bank. A year later, he was hired by Needham Harper Worldwide as an art director on the campaign for Honda.

In 1987, the firm merged with Doyle Dane Bernbach to form DDB Needham. At the time, DDB was working on a campaign for Volkswagen, which presented a conflict with the work they were doing for Honda. Gerry Rubin, president of DDB Needham in Los Angeles, and Larry Postaer, the creative director, bought the Los Angeles office and formed Rubin Postaer and Associates. They retained the Honda Account and kept 100 of their employees, including Baratelli.

"I started as an art director of collateral materials, a designer of brochures, posters and point of sale materials," explained Baratelli. "Eventually I started to do more print ads and television commercials and worked my way up to my present position.

"As the agency has grown, I've taken on more of a leadership role-managing 18 art directors and copywriters. But I don't do this alone. I have a partner with the same title who happens to be a copywriter by trade. We've been working together for more than 15 years. Together we help guide and shape ideas into campaigns, guide clients on their marketing decisions and make sure that what we do stays relevant and connects with people."

Throughout his career, Baratelli has worked on a wide range of product categories in all facets of marketing and communication. A native of Dearborn, the automotive industry has always been of particular interest. Part of his role at RPA is to oversee the national advertising for Honda as well as their corporate "Power of Dreams" campaign in the US. Some of his other past and current clients include Motorcraft, ARCO gasoline, Yokohama tires, Home Fed Bank, Fidelity Federal Bank and American Century Investments, Pioneer Electronics, Activision (video game developers), La-Z-Boy, am/pm mini markets (convenience stores), The Disney Store, Millers Outpost and SOYJOY (nutrition bars). In the area of entertainment, he has developed campaigns for VH1, NHL's Los Angeles Kings, Discover magazine, and the launch of the California Lottery. He has been recognized with numerous awards, such as the ANDYs, EFFIEs and Beldings along with Graphis and CA Annuals.

"What I enjoy most about this career is the problem solving," said Baratelli. "I suppose it is true in any art, figuring how best to connect with the viewer on an emotional level. In marketing and advertising there is usually a box you are put in-either by the target, the budget, or the tone or voice that the product or service has. It is important to communicate in a way that is meaningful to someone, or hopefully a lot of people."

  • Graduation Year: 1985
  • Major: Graphic Design
  • Employer: RPA (Rubin Postaer and Associates)
  • Title: Senior Vice President/Creative Director

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