The youngest of seven kids in a blue-collar family, Joe Pizzimenti learned early that hard work was the formula for success. Growing up in an Italian borough of Detroit, he and his siblings witnessed just how hard their parents worked and they simply followed their example.
“When I graduated from high school, my dad shook my hand and said ‘You start work tomorrow’,” Joe remembers.
The reality was that he would leave his family – and the bitter winters – and head to Tempe to attend Arizona State University. “How could I go wrong,” he recalls, “as ASU had a good business school, pretty girls and the sun was always shining.”
After graduating in 1986 with a degree in marketing, Joe returned to the Motor City and started selling radio commercials. Thereafter, he found his way to New York City and continued to sell radio before returning to the Valley in 1992 to do the very same thing for KTAR radio.
“As a youngster I was always interested in radio and TV commercials and would actually study them to better understand why they did or didn’t work,” he said.
That interest, coupled with his degree in marketing, would eventually lead Pizzimenti into a career in advertising. His first agency was an instant success and was acquired by a subsidiary of Microsoft. His next venture was a digital agency born out of the dot-com boom and though successful, he sold it to his partner in order to strike out on his own.
The year was 2006, and with a name as bold as its owner, Joe started his third agency, Bigfish Creative Group. Thirteen years later it has grown into a leading marketing firm serving industry-leading companies across multiple industries. Oregano’s Pizza Bistro, Arizona Federal Credit Union, Cisco and Valleywise Health are just a few of the clients that Bigfish handles.
The quirky name originated from an art sculpture of a sword fish that Joe owned and today still hangs in his office.
“I guess you can say that my staff and I like to think outside of the pond,” he says. “I just love the culture of an agency as it has always energized me. We are constantly challenged to solve problems or realize opportunities for our clients and we do that through integrated marketing campaigns.”
One of their latest campaigns wasn’t for a client at all, rather an altruistic effort to promote the Valley and state, called AZ5Cs. The storytelling project is meant to represent all the good things that are occurring in the areas of culture, connectivity, commerce, charity and community.
“Arcadia is a perfect example of how people come together in a sense of community. It has such a warm, neighborly feel, where people can know and trust one another,” said Pizzimenti.
When Joe isn’t working, he enjoys golf, books and movies and of late, overseas travel. “I just returned from Italy and in my head, I’m already planning a return. Let’s just say I had a connection with my motherland so who knows, maybe I’ll open a satellite office in Rome?”
Whether that wishful notion ever becomes a reality, it’s not difficult to imagine that Joe will always be a “big fish” swimming in an even bigger pond.