Joe Spellman was a sweet, loving human being who would always find time to help, console, advise or just be a friend to anybody who reached out to him. His charisma, wrapped in warmth, a smile and a twinkle in his eyes, was so engaging that all of us who came within his presence felt at ease, elevated and important. He listened with great interest because he had great interest and loving empathy for everyone in his life.
This was the greatness and the uniqueness of Joe Spellman.
So how could his professional career not have been just as great and unique? And indeed it was. During the ‘70s, Joe was a rising star at Estée Lauder, becoming Vice President of Marketing before he left to form his own marketing and creative agency. In the late ‘80s he’s credited with revitalizing the Elizabeth Arden brand. And he was arguably the first visionary to see the potential of the celebrity fragrance genre, architecting the launch of Elizabeth Taylor’s White Diamonds, which is still a top selling brand.
For the past decade, Joe had been the “go-to” consultant for the EstéeLauder brands, contributing to the success of Tom Ford Beauty and Bobbi Brown.
Current Group President at Estée Lauder, John Dempsey, really said it all. He was quoted in the New York Times obituary: “He (Joe), was one of the architects of the modern beauty industry, whether working alongside Estée Lauder or Leonard Lauder or Charles Revson or Elizabeth Arden – he was there on the ground floor. He was a brilliant marketer.” Amen.
I met Joe a long time ago, in the early ‘70s. As our careers evolved, we were in and out of each other’s lives until just before I launched the second, and current iteration of The Robin Report. We became good friends and I tapped into Joe’s brilliant marketing mind for all kinds of great ideas. And he became a member of our Advisory Board.
Joe’s goals in life were not about money or power. Titles, business protocol, bureaucracy and all of those things that typically define the corporate world and big business would just get in Joe’s way, and would muddle clarity of thought, and imagination, which was the lifeblood of his brilliance.
Most importantly, he told people he loved them. And he hugged them. And he meant it from the bottom of his heart.
That is the Joe I will always remember. Thanks Joe…and I love you too.