Joe Dobrow has been at the marketing helm of some of the most progressive brands of the last two decades. He is particularly well known within the natural foods industry, having served as the head of marketing for Fresh Fields, Whole Foods Market, Balducci’s and Sprouts Farmers Market. He was also a top marketing executive at Flexcar (now known as Zipcar), and Discovery Channel.
During a richly varied 35-year career that has also included stints in sports, media and non-profits, he has been hired by, and worked directly with, some of the country’s most iconic business and sports executives – including AOL Co-Founder Steve Case, Whole Foods Founder and CEO John Mackey, Baseball Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, Jr., Basketball Hall of Famer Dave Cowens, and legendary cause marketer Carol Cone.
Dobrow has steered companies through the tectonic shifts in the marketing industry: going from traditional old style advertising and FSIs, to the customization of database marketing, to the new reality of “pull marketing” that dominates the landscape in a social media-centric world. His particular expertise is a layered style of marketing that is driven by data and substantive content. He has written articles for many newspapers and magazines, is a former radio sportscaster, has lent his voice to many commercials and multimedia projects, and served as public address announcer at numerous sports and special events – from the NCAA Lacrosse Championship to the dedication of the US Botanic Garden in 1994, where he introduced President Clinton and six First Ladies.
He has also become something of an unwitting expert on the realities of the “new economy,” having repeatedly been involved in the 21st Century boom-and-bust cycles of startups, turnarounds and mergers. He has frequently lectured about the topic, and has now developed an interactive teaching seminar and website called “The Layoff Game” (www.TheLayoffGame.com) to help managers learn how to deal with the gut-wrenching challenges of planning and implementing layoffs.
Dobrow holds an undergraduate degree in history from Brown University (where he trained under the late John L. Thomas), an MBA from Yale University (where he studied with preeminent Western American historian Howard R. Lamar), and served as the Robert A. Fox Executive in Residence at the UC Davis Graduate School of Management. He currently teaches part time at the University of Colorado Boulder’s Leeds School of Business.
His second book, Pioneers of Promotion, was published by the University of Oklahoma Press in 2018. It focuses on the early roots of the marketing industry as seen through the work of three colorful visionaries: John M. Burke of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West, Tody Hamilton of the Barnum & Bailey Circus, and Moses P. Handy of the World’s Columbian Exposition. Dobrow launched the book with a unique promotional stunt in April, 2017 that was featured in the Washington Post, and was streamed live on Facebook to more than 1,000 viewers.
He is now (slowly) working on a new book tentatively entitled Return of the Centuries, which examines attitudes towards the past and future at the turn of a century.