Joe Gallo, recently named an svp, group creative director at Draft, initially had considered a career in photojournalism. But his interviews with local newspapers following his graduation from the American Academy of Art in Chicago led him to look elsewhere.
"There was sort of a curmudgeon factor I was going up against—it was like, 'Work on the [photo desk] for a while, and maybe if you're lucky, you'll get to go out and take a picture,' " recalled the 50-year-old art director, who had studied photography and commercial art at the academy. "I was kind of disappointed."
Gallo, who has joined three other gcds at Interpublic Group's Draft, here, most recently was a strategic creative consultant at Alberto Culver in Melrose Park, Ill. In his new role, he works on new business and oversees creative for CVS drug stores and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Managing about 10 creatives, Gallo reports to evp, ecd Kathy Bucaro-Zobens.
"He really is a holistic … thinker, and we look for him to approach a client's problems from a media-neutral point of view," Bucaro-Zobens said.
Gallo worked at four of Chicago's biggest shops before joining Draft, including two stints totaling about 15 years at Publicis Groupe's Leo Burnett. He also worked at Omnicom Group's DDB, IPG's Foote Cone & Belding and Havas' Euro RSCG Tatham Partners.
While the bulk of his career has been at traditional agencies (he worked briefly at promotions shop Upshot, here), Gallo said Draft is better equipped at offering "media-neutral" solutions for clients. "Above-the-line shops can't seem to figure it out without bringing in a lot of pillars," he said.
Gallo cited his efforts on the launch of Coca-Cola's Surge in 1997 while at Leo Burnett, which won a Gold Effie, as among his best work.
After school, his visits to ad agencies convinced him of his career path. "You'd go to ad agencies, and everyone was excited," he said. Still, Gallo never gave up photography. He continues to shoot photos and is represented by Chicago's Flatfile gallery.