Vince Giuliano, 2023. Photo courtesy of Vince Giuliano.
This is a regular column for the one-on-one oral history interviews conducted by Sulema DePeyster, our Community History Specialist. Each article will feature the story of a Windsor resident and provide highlights from the interview, giving readers an inside look into the discussion that took place.
For 45 years and counting, Vince Giuliano has called Windsor home. But Vince’s story actually begins a few towns over in Wethersfield, where he was born in 1947. Vince’s connection to Windsor started shortly after he graduated from Saint Michael’s College in 1971.
During his job search, his mother encouraged him to apply to a company in Windsor after seeing their advertisements in the newspaper. This turned out to be ADVO Inc., a direct mail advertising company founded by Paul Siegal in 1929. Originally operating in Hartford, ADVO later relocated to the heart of Windsor’s business district, right off Day Hill Road.
A successful interview resulted in Vince landing a position as a temporary employee, where he worked on a joint project with Magnavox, an up-and-coming tech company. This project involved developing circulars to advertise Magnavox’s newest retail promotions. “When I first started that, those mailings were about 40 million [households],” Vince stated. “And then the last promotion I worked on, it was about 50 million households that they mailed to. It was a big, big, big job, and ADVO invited me to stay on.”
It was only up from there, as Vince became an administrative assistant for the Sears, Roebuck and Co. account, which had a business partnership with ADVO at the time. Vince eventually assumed a new role as the customer service supervisor and moved into sales, successfully helping to extend ADVO’s reach beyond the New England area and into Georgia, Florida, and the Carolinas.
When Jack Valentine became the president of ADVO in 1976, the company was in danger of going under. To address ADVO’s concerning financial state, Valentine enlisted Vince’s help by moving him out of sales and making him the Director of List Maintenance. Valentine’s plan was to have ADVO submit a bid to the Census Bureau for the 1980 census, so that the Bureau could estimate the number of addresses throughout the country based on ADVO’s mailing list. Vince immediately began working to update and maintain ADVO’s database of addresses, staying late and toiling away to ensure the accuracy of the list.
“Valentine was successful in selling the list to the Census Bureau. It was a $3 million contract, and it wound up being a substantial amount of money to really benefit the company. […] Valentine was right. The company had about $7 million in sales [and was] losing a million dollars a year. It was basically hemorrhaging, and we needed to get that contract.”
ADVO archer logo sign, donated by Vince Giuliano. WHS collections 2023.014.
Over the years, Vince continued to climb the leadership ladder at ADVO. He went on to become the Vice President and later Senior Vice President of Government Relations. One of Vince’s many great achievements includes the establishment of ADVO’s America’s Looking for Its Missing Children Program. After viewing the 1983 film Adam, which tells the tragic true story of a young boy named Adam Walsh who was abducted and killed, Vince felt a strong desire to take action. A year after the release of the film, Vince met with John Walsh, Adam’s father, to discuss options for distributing photos of other missing children. Vince had already created small, detached address labels with advertisements on the back for circulars a few years prior, so he proposed this as a viable location to place the photos.
To seek approval for this idea, Vince and John met with leaders of the newly formed National Center for Missing Exploited Children, founded by Ronald Reagan. Concerns about ADVO, a for-profit advertising company, exploiting the missing children situation initially led to the rejection of Vince’s proposal. However, Lois Harrington, the wife of Reagan’s Cabinet Secretary of Energy, saw the potential in the advertisements.
“I showed [Lois] the pictures of the cards. She kept them and said, ‘I’m going to give this to my husband.’ What I didn’t know was her husband [John Harrington] took the card samples into a cabinet meeting and showed [President] Ronald Reagan. […] Reagan said, ‘Tell that company to do the program.’”
Within a few months, ADVO began sending its first batch of cards for missing children. As it turned out, the recovery rate was one out of six for each distributed card, indicating the program’s success. In 1995, ADVO held a National Missing Children’s Day Luncheon to commemorate the establishment of the program ten years prior. Recovered children from across the country attended the event in Washington, D.C., as well as more than a dozen members of Congress.
Vince with recovered children at the National Missing Children’s Day Luncheon in 1995. Photo courtesy of Vince Giuliano.
By the time Vince retired in 2011, more than 25 years after starting the program and nearly 40 years after joining ADVO, over 255 children had been recovered as a result of their efforts. “Many times, I brought the child who was recovered either to the post office that the tip originated from or brought the child to the plant,” Vince said. “What I wound up doing was I drove this program into the DNA of the corporation. So even after I had left, [ADVO] is still doing the program.”
Today, Vince continues to reside in Windsor and has since 1978, despite numerous challenges. Within a year of moving into his home in Poquonock, the 1979 tornado tore it down. He and his wife rebuilt the home, but a fire destroyed it yet again in 2000. Even so, Vince remained committed to his home, rebuilding for the second time. “[Windsor] is a very, very good environment for children, and it’s a nice place to grow up,” Vince stated, highlighting the Windsor school system in particular. “It’s just a great place and that’s why we keep staying here.”
By Sulema DePeyster, Community History Specialist, 2023