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Co-CEO Pasquale "Pocky" Marranzino Celebrates 40 Years at Karsh Hagan

Kody Pedersen, digital copywriter | 

Co-CEO Pasquale "Pocky" Marranzino Celebrates 40 Years at Karsh Hagan

The mailroom – a tight, hidden space where monotony can defeat even the most ambitious clerks. 

The c-suite – an expansive, open display where the big picture is always front and center. 

It’s logical to think the two workspaces require two different skill sets, two different dispositions, two different people. But in Karsh Hagan co-CEO Pocky Marranzino exists the rare balance of mailroom grind and c-suite shine, capable of thriving in both environments for 50 years, including the past 40 at Karsh Hagan.

‘You Want to Hire People You Like’

Pocky’s journey started in 1972 in the tight, hidden spaces of the Frye-Sills mailroom, which at the time was the largest agency in the region. Where it could’ve been easy to get lost in the mix, Pocky’s personable nature and hard work soon earned him a trip out of the mailroom and into the office as an account executive. In 1982, Pocky’s penchant for personal connection and entertaining flair got him on board at Karsh Hagan in the same role.

“Everybody liked him, and you want to hire people that you like,” said fellow Karsh Hagan co-CEO Kathy Hagan. Hagan’s father, Tom, founded Karsh Hagan in 1977.

“Pocky was and is funny, entertaining, and light about things. He doesn’t take things too seriously, and he’s smart, and account service is about all of those things,” said Kathy Hagan.

It took him just three years to become president of Karsh Hagan, and by 1997, the agency’s two founders, including Phil Karsh, had retired, leaving Pocky as the majority shareholder. In twenty-five years after his eyes blurred from an endless onslaught of envelopes, they were now crystal clear in c-suite comfort. For many people, that’s where the journey would’ve ended – a successful transformation complete with nearly every award in the industry and more on the way.

Balancing Is No Act

But Pocky’s balance is innate and never-ending – a constant in everything he does, personal and professional. When speaking with Pocky’s colleagues and friends, that balance comes through again and again. One of Pocky’s charms comes in his bits of wisdom that guide and direct the agency. These Pockyisms, as they are known, are often rooted in his passion for sports. As he said in a 2011 interview with the Denver Post, “I’m like a football coach. I have to put the players on the field and call the right plays. This is the ultimate team sport.”

For all of his humor and lightheartedness, Pocky’s appetite for competition is no joke. One of the reasons, according to Karsh Hagan President Tracy Broderick said, that Pocky has succeeded for 40 years at Karsh Hagan is understanding “the joy of winning – that there’s no better feeling than winning new business, delivering a successful campaign, and knowing that we’ve helped contribute to our clients’ success.”

For all of his hard work, Pocky’s passion for play is never to be underestimated. It’s right there in the three pillars of the company culture: family, freedom, and FUN. ‘Pocky doesn’t believe in being too rigid with too many rules,” Karsh Hagan Director of People and Purpose Heidi Fegel said. “He likes to have fun and knows that we can’t take everything too seriously.”

For all of his strong leadership, Pocky’s trust in his employees is resolute. “Quit stirring, and start painting.” Another Pockyism, this one encourages action. But it also allows for autonomy, room for the artist to paint as they please. 

In his own words, “I learned a long time ago that creativity is a form of play, but that’s not to say it isn’t stressful. We like freedom. We want to give people the opportunity to think outside the box.”

As Director of Creative Services Nancy Casey said, “When I bring Pocky an idea, he listens and is enthusiastic. He allows the creatives to do great work.”

Broderick added, “If you work hard, deliver results, don’t screw up and earn Pocky’s respect, he gives you a lot of autonomy and lets you do your job. This is very motivating and makes you want to give your all for Pocky, Karsh Hagan, and our clients.”

For all of his entertaining, Pocky knows when it’s time to listen. You won’t often find Pocky behind his desk at Karsh Hagan. That’s because he’s usually in conversation, discussing client developments, or more often, what you’re excited about.

“Every time Pocky is in the office, he takes time to walk around and say hello and ask what he can do for you,” said Fegel. “Pocky treats people as part of the family, and he wants to meet every new hire and intern and learn more about them.”

His interest is sincere and his humility valued. VP Director of Broadcast/Video Becky Ferguson tells a story of an early challenge. “In the first few months I worked at Karsh, I made a huge mistake on a national ad. When I went into his office to tell him, he assured me that we were a team, and no one should take the blame on their own.”

It’s a long way from the mailroom to the c-suite, but Pocky has navigated the route with strategic instinct, big-picture bravado, and perhaps most importantly, a deep understanding of what makes those around him tick. After 40 years at Karsh Hagan, he continues to engage and inspire, listen and lead. Here’s to another 40 years of Colorado’s Ad Man! I’ll leave you with a quick list of our favorite Pockyisms:

•Big hat, no cattle!

•You have the right stuff.

•Advertising is the ultimate team sport.

•No one gets up in the morning and says "how can I screw up someone else's day?"

•Clients = Paycheck

•We sell air.

•Nothing happens until something is sold.

•Skate to where the puck is going to be.

•Quit stirring and start painting.

Moments from the Event

*Photos by Photography G.

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