People die of cancer all the time. The last two weeks, this sad reality hit very close to home. First Dean. Now my sister Mary. Cancer sucks. That is the hash tag. It does. Sucks the life out of so many people and all that they were. My sister was so incredibly smart, stubborn, funny, mad, joyous, proud, beautiful, tiny, rebellious and now, gone. I still don't have a grasp on it all. Too fast, too soon. Cancer sucks. I hate you, cancer. I love you, Mary.


Dean Jarrett was a coworker and friend for over 26 years. He died of cancer last week. I've never known anyone like him. He always looked on the bright side. He always was ready with a smile and a hug. He always swung really hard at the golf ball. Dean was at my side for so many big moments in my career. Cannes juries. Cannes wins. Speaking in Dubai. Winning agency of the year at The One Show. Taking home an Emmy. Every honor I ever received, Dean was probably there with the first handshake. He was the agency PR guy and he was good. One of the best. We owed a lot of our stellar reputation to Dean's stellar reputation. I often found myself over the years just headed to his office for no other reason than to laugh. Man, I will miss you, buddy. Like thousands of others who knew you even better than I did. Please know you were loved and we will do our best to spread good wherever we go, just like you did. Peace.

Taking a golf lesson from Bobby Jones.

Asked to brand a new golf management company named for maybe the most famous golfer in history not named Tiger Woods.


Some new brand work for a small private school here in Richmond. The Knights of Blessed Sacrament Huguenot School. We discovered knights are very different than the ones chosen by kings and queens. (A lot cuter, too.) The campaign breaks in 2020. Sneak peak at a couple of pages from the recruitment book.


Love. Also known as Sarah, my wife. She has shown me over and over what love is. Sticking with me when others wouldn't. Believing in me when others didn't. Always showing me with grace how to handle this past two years. But her love extends beyond me to all around her. Her family, partners, peers and so many more. She has always believed that "love makes more love" and I see it all the time with Sarah. Her business is a living, breathing testament to this. She is hitting her stride with wallpaper commissions here and far. How? By being full of love, joy and kindness. Is there a better way to run a business? Or even better, live a life? Nope.

Education unlocks everything.

My father Ace was a lifelong teacher. To him, education wasn't just important, it was necessary. Learning, sharing, watching, listening, participating, studying, reading, playing, all were vital to a successful life. In 2013, I started a small scholarship in my father's name and it has been rewarding to see the winners thrive. The first Ace recipient is now studying at Duke Medical School. This year's winner, Taylor Love, is off to college and I can't wait to see what she does next. Blessed and grateful.

Long copy. Where ya been?

This is a print ad for a small golf apparel brand called Turtleson. They are just getting started and our idea was simple: talk to their audience about a way of life. And maybe buy some clothes along the way. I remember when it was called a "soft sell" approach versus a "hard sell." Seems brands are still debating those two ways to go. Thanks, Cabell, for the work. And words.

The Butter Pecan has landed.

Working on Gelati Celesti has been a blast - all the way to the moon. This is a social post celebrating the moon landing. Caption: One small scoop for man, one giant leap for mankind. Thanks, Cabell, for the opportunity.

10 years and 50 years ago.

50 years ago, man landed on the moon. 10 years later, we did it again., a live re-creation of the Apollo moon landing, went live at 9:36 AM, July 16, 2009, exactly 40 years to the second from the actual landing. Maybe the favorite project I ever worked on for the simple reason I was out of my comfort zone from day one. Scary but good scary. Below, a photo of the mission control for the six months it took to make this idea happen. Brian Williams, Wade Alger and the amazing Norma Kwee at the controls. Thank you team. What a ride it was.

Once you taste it, you'll understand.

Gelati Celesti. I am not an ice cream guy, but this product is impossible not to love. How impossible? The lines for the grand opening in Virginia Beach were around the block, hours before the doors opened. Like a new Apple iPhone release. Great fun working on these social posts with Cabell and Work Labs.


Excited to be working on the most delicious brand in RVA. Will be fun to see the campaign in the world.


The yearly Martin Luther King celebration was this past week. On this day, I always reflect on his many famous words. But this year, one of his quotes really struck a cord and filled me with so much sadness. This past year has been the most trying of my life. I lost so much. My job. My reputation. My sense of who I am and what I will become. But the biggest loss by far? My friends. Many who I've known for half my life just disappeared one day and never came back. I know many feel betrayed and fearful. Or maybe, they've just moved on. I wait and I hope for the silence to end.
The hard season won't last forever.


My mom is my hero. Like my father and the namesake of this blog, she has lived her 90 years full of life, love and compassion. No matter what, she has always been there for me and believed in me. Like she said at the outset of this incredibly difficult year: "Joe, you and your God know the truth. That's all that matters." I'm lucky to have married someone who also believes in me - unconditionally. What better gift? There isn't one. Happy birthday, mom. I love you.

Mid-term of a generation.

Does Trump and his style of politics continue? Do the people who support him feel some push back from the rest of us? It was an honor to help and support Abigail Spanberger as she challenged Dave Brat for Congress. Whatever happens today, you have won so many fans. Thank you. If the turnout is high, the turnover will happen. Let's go.

Wallpaper czar.

If you haven't been to, you are missing out on the coolest hand-drawn wall coverings anywhere. Every design can take a room and turn it into a showcase. Blown away by this woman and her passion, joy and love for what she makes. Each paper exudes everything she is. Full disclosure: Sarah is my wife. The first photo is her signing her biggest deal yet with (That's her studio in our home.) The second photo is Sarah's feature in

A lifeline when too many are taking their life.

An idea to help in face of the suicide epidemic in America. If it saves one life, it was worth doing. Thank you, Guy Kirkland, for the design.

Help for the helpless.

Alzheimer's. It's the worst possible fate and one we need to find a cure for. Soon. As more and more of us age, it's only going to grow more consequential. Here's a series of wild postings placed in context of other lost souls. Credit: Siberia, USA.

Karen and Jerry.

It was great to see this good news yesterday. Karen Costello was named CCO at The Martin Agency and Jerry Hoak was named ECD. I hired both of these amazing talents and when I left, elevated them to interim leaders of the creative department. Karen was really a tough one to convince to join six months ago, but after a long courtship, she jumped in with both feet and has been, since day one, a difference maker. Of course, being a female creative leader is the added bonus, but she earned this spot because she is a special talent. Human yet tough, driven but unselfish. Jerry has been at Martin a little longer and coming from Droga5, he brings that very unique POV and experience. Media-agnostic, impeccable design sense, unwavering in his believe in ideas. The agency is in good hands. Congrats, friends. Do good things.


What happened in Charlottesville this summer was a tragedy. This is one of the last projects to come through on my watch and it makes me proud. Thanks to a small team led by Karen Costello, Britta Dougherty, Mike Kelley and Rique Santiago, the effort turned a lot of hateful energy into a positive. Once again, Virginia is for lovers.

What matters.

It's been one month since I left the place I worked at for almost 27 years. Everyday is filled with a river of emotions. Sadness, mostly. But what I've realized in the cold light of the day? That in the end what matters is not the awards, the success, the money, the attention, the praise. What matters is the people pictured on this wall in our bedroom. Family. They sustain me now. And I will forever be grateful for their love.


I'm no longer at my home for the last 26 years, The Martin Agency. The place and the people changed my life. How much? That's me when I started. Serious hockey flow, right? Now it's time to do something new. I have no idea what. But it's going to be an adventure. I might even bring back the suspenders. We'll see.

Making films.

Takes a lot to go right to make a piece of film you can be proud of. Writing. Art direction. Execution. Detail. Music. Casting. Edit. VO. When they all work together, the viewer fells something. In the heart.  Congrats to the team. Job well done.

Making butter better.

There is nothing this agency can't make. Nothing. Our digital creds are especially underrated. We built the new Land O Lakes website from scratch. Check it out here:

I am so not the audience, but this is epic.

Have never played a video game like Shadow of War. Not a big fan of the blood and gore. But I am a big fan of this campaign. Incredible craft. And it worked. A record-breaking launch.

Purina print.

Very nice, simple idea executed with craft. Always a winner.

Surprising? Nope.

GEICO continues to crank out the funny stuff - and sell car insurance. GEICO is closing in on the number one spot,  right on the heels of Allstate. Proving great work always outperforms shitty work. See it all here:


Running of the Bulldogs.

Sloth, from a brand new campaign called "Count on it."

In the aftermath of Charlottesville.

The ugly confrontation happened just 50 miles from Richmond. By Monday, a small team here had the perfectly poignant response. The Virginia Tourism slogan, created by the agency over 50 years, is still in use and going strong. We reached out and thankfully, the leaders there saw how important and timely this could be for all. Today, the hashtag is still being spread. And the healing continues. Thank you, Mike, Britta, BRK, Kim Z., Karen and many more.

13 Lions in Cannes.

A very nice run in France. Great work for GEICO and DONATE LIFE.  The life and death of Coleman F. Sweeney was a huge hit. Three Golds. Always an honor to go up on stage - that never gets old. Congrats to the teams.

Boyz to Men selling car insurance.

The latest in our "It's what you do campaign" for GEICO and maybe one of my favorites. Kudos to Neel, Justin and Steve.

On another roll with pre-roll.

The GEICO team continues to re-invent the re-invention of those nagging pre-roll ads. The craft in this execution is perfect. Neel and Mazzer, you crushed it again.

A great start to the 2017 award season.

With D&AD, Andy's and One Show under our belts, we look forward to Cannes. 7 pencils from D&AD, including one yellow for Donate Life. 11 pencils at One Show, including 4 golds for GEICO and Donate Life, plus 22 finalists. Couldn't be more proud of the teams as they push to make the best work in the world.

Donate Life. Winning the fight to save lives and pick up some recognition along the way.

Martin London with some goodness.

Martin London starting to run smooth with this new work for Dunkin' Donuts. Really smart stunt deployed during the recent London Marathon. Read more here: And look out for more donut nuttiness to come.