AN INTERVIEW WITH JOE BOUCH
July 2016

Recently I was able to sit down with Joe Bouch, CEO of 78MADISON to discuss how he got started in the advertising business, and how he landed where he is now. Joe has had a long 38 plus year career in advertising that started on Madison Avenue and evolved to agency ownership.

Joe’s career has allowed him to rub elbows and learn from some of the best strategists in the business including John Smale, John Pepper and A.G. Lafley of Procter & Gamble, as well as advertising agency giants Bart Cummings, Milt Gossett, Alex Kroll and Gene Bartley.

JOE, LETS FIRST START OFF WITH A QUESTION ABOUT THE COMPANY YOU'VE KEPT.
YOU'VE WORKED WITH SOME PRETTY BIG NAMES.
Amazing isn’t it. Trust me; I didn’t get to work alongside these guys because I was brilliant or worthy. It was purely luck of the draw. But that luck helped transform me into the marketing strategist I am today. Growing up in Orlando, Florida and thinking I was going to be a teacher like most of my family, I never imagined Madison Avenue, Procter & Gamble and working with the best of the best.

HOW DID THE "LUCK" BEGIN?
Upon graduating from Florida State University in 1977 I was awarded a James Webb Young Scholarship to attend the University of Illinois graduate program for advertising and marketing.

WHO WAS JAMES WEBB YOUNG?
He was a driving force behind the creation of the modern advertising industry, and is one of advertising's most honored educators and practitioners. A couple of his most important books were The Diary of an Ad Man and How to Become an Advertising Man. I would recommend these books to anyone getting into the business; they are as relevant today as the day I read them.

THE JAMES WEBB YOUNG SCHOLARSHIP WAS JUST FOR THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS?
Yes. Back in the day the most prestigious advertising program in the country was found at the University of Illinois; In fact during that time in history, 10 of the top advertising agencies in the world each gave out one scholarship annually for a student to attend the university under the auspices of the James Webb Young scholarship. My scholarship came from Bart Cummings, in honor of his father Earl; Bart at the time was President and CEO of Compton Advertising, the primary advertising agency for Procter & Gamble. Even before arriving at Illinois, I struck up a letter writing relationship with Mr. Cummings that later evolved into a personal relationship while at the university, and then upon my employment at Compton Advertising in New York City.

SO YOUR CAREER BEGAN AT COMPTON ADVERTISING?
Indeed. I was hired by Compton Adverting in 1978, and I hit the lottery on day one. I was assigned to Tide Laundry Detergent, the granddaddy of them all - which meant that I would be trained by the top guns on the agency side – Milt Gossett, Gene Bartley, Bob Jordan and many others; Gene continues to be a mentor of mine to this day. As well, I got to work with the cream of the crop at Procter & Gamble. When I became an Assistant A.E. on Tide Laundry Detergent, John Smale was President and CEO of P&G and John Pepper – who later became President of P&G - ran P&G’s Soap Division…and because it was “Tide”, both were very involved in planning and strategy. It was like getting a doctorate in marketing. Amazing men; while at Compton I worked on Tide Laundry Detergent, Ivory Liquid, Ariel and Pampers.

WAS YOUR ENTIRE NEW YORK CAREER AT COMPTON?
No. Not long after Compton had been bought by Saatchi and Saatchi, I moved a little ways down Madison Avenue to Cunningham & Walsh, which was the second largest Procter & Gamble advertising agency. This is where I met up with A.G. Lafley who had just completed his stint in the military – A.G. became the assistant brand manager on Folgers Coffee, which was my primary account at Cunningham & Walsh; smart, intuitive, easy going, and later to become President and CEO of P&G. Who knew? While at Cunningham & Walsh I worked on Folgers Coffee, High Point Coffee, Citrus Hill Orange Juice and Certain Bathroom Tissues – a P&G test brand. N.W. Ayer bought C&W while I was working at the agency, and I added some Nestle business to my portfolio.

DOES THE JAMES WEB YOUNG SCHOLARSHIP EXIST TODAY?
Too my knowledge, no.

SO HOW DID YOU GET INTO THE ADVERTISING BUSINESS?
Jack Phifer, my roommate at Florida State University.

As I mentioned earlier, I come from a family of school teachers, so I figured that is what I would do. I was going to be like my dad – a teacher and a coach. That is until I actually did some student teaching while at FSU, where I became a bit disillusioned by the system and decided this was not for me. So I was confronted with my first crisis – what do I do with the rest of my life?

Jack, who was one year ahead of me at FSU and an advertising major, suggested I get an advertising/marketing degree…that I loved sports, and with such a degree I could become a sports information director or work for a professional sports organization. I thought, wow, that sounds cool, so I decided that’s what I would do.

BEING AN ORLANDO BOY, HOW DID YOU MANAGE TO GET TO MADISON AVENUE IN NYC?
After deciding advertising-business was going to be my major at FSU, I remember the trepidation I had about going home and telling my parents, particularly my dad, that I wasn’t carrying on the teaching mantle, and instead I was going into the advertising agency business. So back home in Orlando I tell them the news; and I remember my dad very calmly saying to me "you know, I can help you get a job as a teacher, but advertising, not much I can do." I told my dad I understood, no problem, that I’d be fine. Then I remember him turning to my mom and saying "don’t we know someone who is in the advertising business?" I quickly responded that I appreciated it, but really, he didn’t have to figure out how to help me.

As background for what I am about to tell you, it is important for your readers to know that for a few months prior I had been learning everything I could learn about the industry through Advertising Age and Ad Week…essentially who the movers and shakers were in the business.

My dad continues, "no, I know I know someone who got into the advertising business" - I’m thinking oh my heavens, my dad knows some matchbook salesman here in Orlando, Florida that he wants to hook me up with. And then he says "didn’t little Alex Kroll go into the advertising business?" If it could have, my jaw would have hit the floor. I said to my dad, who did you just say? He says "Alex Kroll, why?" And I respond, dad, Alex Kroll is President and CEO of the largest advertising agency in the world – Young & Rubicam - at which point I ask, how do you know him? My dad replies "I was his high school football coach in Leechburg, Pennsylvania. He was a linebacker and center, was valedictorian of the senior class, went on to play football at Rutgers and then the pros with the New York Titans (later to become the Jets)." I was stunned. My dad, a teacher in Orlando, Florida who couldn’t help me in the advertising business – ha! And despite 30 or so years having passed, within 25 minutes of my father’s revelation, he was on the phone with Alex Kroll, which in turn began my journey of preparing for the ad business in NY and on Madison Avenue. I could go on and on about just this one story, but for now, will stop.

WOW. SO WHY DIDN'T YOU WORK AT YOUNG & RUBICAM?
I had the opportunity. It was between Y&R and Compton Advertising, and I ultimately chose Compton due to the opportunity to work on Procter & Gamble business and to learn their Brand Management System. At the time I wasn’t sure it was the right choice, but in the end it was.

HOW LONG DID YOU WORK ON MADISON AVENUE?
A bit over 10 years, with a fairly even split between Compton/Saatchi & Saatchi and Cunningham & Walsh/N.W. Ayer.

WHY DID YOU LEAVE THE BIG APPLE?
When I started out in New York my overall goal was to work for an undefined period of time on Madison Avenue, learn how the big boys did things and then to come home to Orlando, Florida and open an advertising agency of my own. At about the 10 year mark I was getting itchy to do my own thing. But before I actually headed for Orlando, I took a VP Management Supervisor position at Bozell Jacobs in Dallas, Texas – they were actually located in Irving Texas – where I worked on Pace Picante Sauces and the Armor Foods Division. I tried to grind it out, but really didn’t like Texas that much, so after two years, I headed home to Orlando, Florida.

THEN YOU CAME TO ORLANDO AND OPENED YOUR OWN ADVERTISING AGENCY?
Not right away. I felt like I needed to get my feet wet in the Orlando/Central Florida market before I tried my own thing, and landed at one of the more well-known agencies in Orlando, Florida at the time. After a little over a year, I left to start BBC Marketing, the letters BBC representing me and my partners names – Bouch, Boldman, Clement. I’d be lying if I said it was easy and an immediate success, but we held our own for 5 years at which point Cramer-Krasselt, a well-known advertising agency out of Milwaukee-Chicago, bought our marketing communications company. CK was looking to bulk up their southeast and Florida base and thought our talent and clients would be a good addition.

WHAT WAS YOUR ROLE AT CRAMER-KRASSELT?
It evolved over 10 years. I was hired as Vice President Director of Client Services, which means I oversaw and directed all of the account management teams on all accounts in the agency. So I had strategic input and guidance on every business we touched including accounts such as Florida Department of Citrus, Florida Power and Light, Sears Home Improvement, Orlando/Orange County Convention & Visitors Bureau, Visit Florida, Winn-Dixie, and The Outer Banks of North Carolina. About 8 years into my stint at CK, I became General Manager of the shop.

THEN YOU WENT OUT ON YOUR OWN AGAIN?
Not yet, but I did leave CK. At the time of my departure, I was actually not looking for a job of any sort – I frankly thought I’d retire at CK. One day our media director at CK came into my office and showed me an ad regarding the search for a president to run their 25 year old advertising agency in Central Florida – Orlando. Of course having grown up in Orlando, I was curious who it was, and began the guessing process based on my knowledge of the market. I couldn’t figure out who it was, so out of curiosity I called the number in the ad and got Tom Chisano who had just bought First Marketing Group, an advertising agency in Orlando – Longwood, Florida. He filled me in on the story of his purchase, and I basically said good luck and began to hang up; at which point he asked if he could meet me for lunch to just ask me some questions about the Central Florida-Orlando advertising market/culture. I said sure. We met. We hit it off. He offered me a job to become President of the agency (Orlando, Florida and Dayton, Ohio), and I joined the firm. Totally unplanned.

WERE YOU BROUGHT IN AS A PART OWNER OF THE AGENCY?
No. Just President, and not long after my arrival we changed the name of the Orlando, Florida advertising agency from First Marketing Group to Chisano Marketing Group. From a branding perspective, I thought it was important that our advertising agency name in Orlando, Florida matched the name of our Dayton, Ohio office. I oversaw the Orlando, Florida and Dayton, Ohio locations from 2006 thru 2013. In January of 2014, I bought into 40% of the Orlando, Florida advertising agency only – not Dayton - and then in November of 2014 I bought the entire company. The Dayton office, which was more of a fulfillment house than an advertising agency was sold to a buyer in Ohio.

WHEN DID YOU CHANGE THE NAME TO 78MADISON?
January 2016.

HAVE YOU CONSIDERED EXPANSION TO OTHER CITIES, OR OUT OF ORLANDO, FLORIDA?
Not at this point. We are healthy, growing, and excitedly looking to the future. But Orlando, Florida is home. The advertising agency industry in Orlando, Florida is solid, and the city is growing. Yes, our address is in Altamonte Springs, but for all practical purposes we consider 78Madison to be an Orlando, Florida advertising agency – a Central Florida and Southeastern United States Marketing Communications firm.

FASCINATING STORY JOE.
ANY CLOSING REMARKS REGARDING YOUR OVERALL PHILOSOPHY OF LIFE AND BUSINESS?
Heavens, I could probably write a book.

Like life, the advertising agency business can be either a daring adventure or a place where you play it safe and avoid risk. There is not a successful business person I know who didn’t at some time fail or make a major mistake. After all, that’s how you learn the quickest and understand true sweetness of success.

Over the years I have come to recognize that all of us have choices to make and priorities to decide. A good life/work happiness rarely comes unless we strike the right balance. So I have learned to work to live rather than live to work. Continually exercise your mind as well as your body. Dare yourself to experience those things that challenge your senses on a daily basis. You’ll be surprised how flexible and toned they become.

And what should I do with the little things I’ve learned in my first 60 years of life – the pearls of wisdom, the painful experiences, the valuable lessons? Should I lock them away or pass them on? Should I share all that knowledge or is it better to allow others the freedom to make their own choices, their own mistakes? The answer is, there is no answer. A little of both I suppose.

We are all on a journey of discovery, and if we knew where it led, it wouldn’t be half as much fun getting there. Sometimes we walk, other times we run. Often we encounter hurdles and just occasionally we take the odd leap of faith. And here’s the thing: nobody knows for sure if it will be worth it. But what I do know is that nothing worthwhile was ever achieved without taking a chance or making a calculated risk.

THANKS FOR YOUR TIME JOE
You’re welcome

78Madison is a full service marketing communications firm and advertising agency located in Orlando, Florida – Altamonte Springs.