As an art director/copywriter at the fledgling DeVito/Verdi advertising agency in 1992, Rob Carducci’s simple black-and-white print ad for a small chain of off-price clothing stores quickly provoked outrage and protests – and ultimately set the agency off on its renowned run of impactful ads that would come to mark its style over the next three decades.
Nearly 30 years after his “Straitjacket” ad for Daffy’s first ran, Carducci is returning to DeVito/Verdi as a creative director, it was announced by Ellis Verdi, president of the New York City ad agency.
The ad was seen in print outlets and billboards, and soon caught the ire of numerous mental health advocates who immediately protested and demonstrated outside Daffy’s stores and DeVito/Verdi’s office. And at that year’s OBIE awards for the best out-of-home advertising, protesters flocked to the ceremony carrying X’d out photos of agency owners Sal DeVito and Verdi. The ad went on to win top honors, and virtually overnight the upstart ad agency had gained the attention of all of Madison Avenue.
The ad showed a close-up of a straitjacket with the accompanying copy: “If you’re paying over $100 for a dress shirt, may we suggest a jacket to go with it?”
Carducci joined the one-year-old agency in 1991, immediately after graduating from the School of Visual Arts in New York. He left DeVito/Verdi in 1998, joining Cliff Freeman & Partners as an art director/copywriter. From there, he moved on to be an art director at TBWA/Chiat/Day in New York, and a creative director/copywriter at Grey Advertising.
In between stints at those two agencies, he freelanced at Crispin Porter + Bogusky, McCann and 180 Amsterdam. Most recently, he was a freelance creative director at VaynerMedia.
“Unbeknownst to all of us at the time, that one ad about how ludicrous it is to pay so much money for a dress shirt would come to epitomize who we were as an agency in terms of getting at the ‘truth’,” said Verdi. “It’s been a long time coming, but we’re glad he’s back.”
Since his recent return, Carducci has been preparing to launch new campaigns for agency clients NYU School of Global Public Health, SoClean and the MetroHealth System (Cleveland).
Throughout his career, Carducci has worked on a diverse list of clients, including Ally Bank, American Express, Fox Sports and Mohegan Sun. His public service announcement for States United to Prevent Gun Violence was hailed as “the best gun control commercial ever” by MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell. He created the spot while at Grey, working alongside former DeVito/Verdi colleague Eric Schutte. Schutte would later rejoin DeVito/Verdi, and is once again working with Carducci.
Welcome back, Rob.