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Phil Joanou: A Legacy of Partnership


We remember and honor Phil Joanou, one of the most accomplished and celebrated advertising figures of the past 30 years.  In large part, Phil was responsible for the original concept that founded our organization.  As a business leader, he thought if advertising could be successful at selling products and ideas, it could ‘unsell’ drugs and drug use as well.  And as a father, Phil believed we all needed a proactive force to help support parents in keeping their kids away from drugs. 

Phil introduced his radical idea to the Board of Directors at the 4A’s (American Association of Advertising Agencies) in 1985 and, along with Lou Hagopian, supported his concept and remained active with the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids for many years.

Phil was a friend and mentor to me in the days and weeks following the death of Dick O’Reilly in 1987, then our President and National Director, just months after we launched our nonprofit.  Phil rallied us at a time of deep loss and tragedy and worked tirelessly to maintain the momentum and the promise of hope.

He was a constant, positive voice in the early days of questions without answers, more critics than supporters, financial woes and a shortage of research.  Phil was the model for what became our team attitude: “People who say it cannot be done should get out of the way of the people doing it.”  He believed in the power of advertising and communications to change the world.  He will be missed.

– Tom Hedrick, Senior Communications Officer,
Founding Member of the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids

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