Picture a 20,000-square-foot villa with terra cotta tiled roof, nestled in a rocky hillside of Terlizzi, Italy, the ancient Via Appia Traiana stretching below, silvery olive groves shimmering in the late afternoon breeze as a man stands to welcome guests. The man is Paul Cappelli. The villa he rescued from ruin some twelve years ago is Villa Cappelli, where well- traveled tourists book a quiet room with a view, and friends dine on the smooth, pungent olive oil he produces, the one with the Puglia pinch.
Bucolic in Italy, bodacious in advertising: Cappelli and his agency, The Ad Store, are legendary for spoofing Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction in a 2005 Go Daddy commercial slated to run during the Super Bowl. The spot was so suggestive—a very sexy “Nikki Cappelli” gyrated while her top threatened to come off—that it crashed Go Daddy’s servers, forced the network to pull it before it could run again and created water cooler buzz for days.
Cappelli still drives the strategic and creative direction for The Ad Store and its 14 international offices. Before launching The Ad Store in 1993with its concept of a la carte advertising, he was a creative force at McCann Erickson on Coca-Cola with “Catch the Wave” and “Max Headroom.” His first of many Clios came during his time at BBDO, where he worked on Pepsi, Gillette and General Electric.