How detailing cars at age 16 got Paul Marobella to the top

Havas CEO

Today we speak to CEO of Havas Chicago, Paul Marobella.

I always knew I wanted to be in advertising. It started with me trying to make money the summer I was 16. I started a car detail business in a executive bedroom suburb of Boston, Sudbury, MA. I charged $125 for a detail in 1986. At the time I knew I had to do something different to be noticed, something that nobody else was doing so I bribed the building managers of small office parks to use their electricity and water during the day and I offered a detail-while-you-work service. Now they call it mobile car detailing. The rush of leaving a business card or flyer on someone’s car and then my phone ringing to make an appointment was the very start of me realizing the power of advertising. From there, I went on to Bentley University in Boston to study marketing and the rest is history, with playing some baseball and hockey, partying in Vegas and South Beach and being president of my fraternity thrown in for good measure. 

Over the past 20 years, I have worked on some of the most incredible brands in the world. The industry has taken me to all corners of the earth. I’ve met incredible people and truly have had the career I would have hoped for. I’ve lived in Boston, Manhattan and now Chicago working for amazing agencies all winning top awards for work and for the agency’s performance. Now, I am the CEO of the Havas Chicago Network, which is a collection of seven agencies in the US with over 750 people, based in the Chicago Village of Havas. Havas is one of the largest agency holding companies in the world, based in Paris and leading the way with progressive thinking and innovation. 

In a way, fashion drove my choice to pursue a career in advertising. I didn’t want to wear a suit and tie to work and I was vigilant about staying true to my identity and style. I still carry this chip with me, today. My style has morphed over the years but today, I’d call it a street-smart style that blends best of custom with street wear and high-end brands. I’ve adopted the French fashion mentality of have less but better. Living in Chicago definitely tempers your style in ways that would be different if living in Manhattan or LA. However, you can still get away with wearing jeans to a multi-million dollar meeting and it’s just the risks aren’t taken as much with fashion for men, here. 

When not at work, I am passionate about my charity in Chicago called the Inner City Education Program or ICE. ICE is a Chicago Blackhawks charity partner and we are dedicated to helping low-resource kids in the City of Chicago play the game of hockey and as a result be awarded academic scholarships to attend top-tier private schools. We have raised and donated hundreds of thousands of dollars and this past year became an official partner of Chicago Blackhawks charities. I also still play hockey a couple of nights a week on a local men’s team and on the North American Havas team called the MadMen. 

As for my style….  

Jeans:

I wear jeans 90% of the time paired with a sport coat, t shirt, sweater and sneakers. And, when I find a cut and brand I like I buy it in every wash.

Paige Lennox 

AG Nomad

A.P.C. Petit New Standard

Shirts:

Prada t-shirts and for button downs, all custom from Wilfred Newman in Chicago.

Pants:

All pants that aren’t jeans are custom from Wilfred Newman in Chicago.

Suits:

I have suits and sport coats for all seasons and occasions. I like to experiment with patterns, liners and details on my jackets. My man Eddie Lehneer at Wilfred Newman is always looking for new patterns, textures and liners for me. 

Custom from Wilfred Newman in Chicago. 

Shoes:

I have a versatile arsenal of shoes of which I include designer sneakers I wear with high-end fashion or my suits. My days of Adidas suits and crispy new kicks have never left me so when I can, I rock some AF1‘s or the always popular in Boston, Adidas Superstars. But my favorite thing I put on my feet are my Bauer skates for those nights at Fight Club, aka hockey. 

Accessories:

To me the dollars are in the details and I like to pay attention to the small things, especially a carefully chosen piece of jewelry or my watch. Right now, all of my jewelry is David Yurman carbon fiber or black. I wear big watches, always have, and my new passion is the collection from Panerai. 

All David Yurman all the time for Jewelry 

My go-to watch is an all-steel Panerai 1950 Luninor  Marina 3 Days Automatic

Louis Vuitton graphite black wallet and champs elysees money clip 

Tumi Alpha 2 luggage 

Bauer APX2 stick

Outerwear:

Someone once said to me your jackets are always part of your outfit. This is very true and I pay attention to having jackets for all occasions, weather and color ways. I like slim fitting cuts, which is why I obsess over Prada and Moncler, mostly. Also, Canada Goose Chateau Parka for Chicago winters.

Favorite Cologne:

Yves St Laurent L’Homme and Viktor Rolf Spicebomb

Your favorite App:

My life is crazy and we introduced our company to the Whil app, recently, and I am hooked. I use it in the middle of the day, on a plane or right before I go to sleep. Whil for meditation and Texture for catching up on magazines.

Favorite piece of technology:

Jailbroken Amazon Fire stick 

Next tech purchase: 

Sonos for my home