Three College Friends Turn a College Dorm Dream into Successful Advertising Career
Writer / Renée Larr
Photographer / Michael Durr
Bayonet Media specializes in vibrant ad campaigns and award-winning, thought-provoking original content—and the brainchild of three college friends desiring to do their own thing regarding careers and creativity. After graduating and following different paths, Kevin Grazioli, Andrew P. Quinn and Joe Vella decided to band together to create Bayonet Media in 2012.
“We were very much the classic college dorm story,” Vella says. “We all met each, hung out a lot, worked on student film projects together and even made a couple of cheesy music videos. As we moved on, we kept in touch and decided to start our business together.”
While Bayonet is a local company run by locals, they work around the country, including New York City, Los Angeles, Portland and Indiana. The trio says advancing technology allows them to work in many places simultaneously.
“Bayonet has always been about creating the highest quality work possible,” Quinn says. “Tracing all the way back to college, our collaborations have always been about creating images and stories we are proud of, and we do the same for our clients. We strive to use the most cutting-edge technology and partner with talented people to create and capture images. In post-production, we work meticulously to refine and perfect our edits. As filmmakers, we see our work as a craft and respect the process of approaching our work with the utmost care.”
The company produces advertisements for national brands like Food Network, AARP and Jim Beam. They also love creating content and images for local companies and organizations like Crew Carwash, The Indianapolis Zoo, Goodman Campbell Brain and Spine, Knozone and Ortho Indy. The Crew Carwash ad features a modern-day Santa taking his lesser-known ride, a shiny red Ford Mach E, through the carwash for some much-needed “me time.”
The Knozone ad showcases an “evolved dinosaur in the modern world,” urging Indianapolis residents to “don’t be a fossil and drive electric.” The ad campaign won an Emmy for outstanding achievement as a Public Service Announcement.
Vella says one of the business mantras is location doesn’t dictate talent. He says sometimes people wrongly think great ideas only come from larger cities, but he’s proud to be a part of a large pool of talented creatives coming out of the state and the city of Indianapolis.
While many clients come to the group with their own ideas for marketing content, Quinn says the group also loves creating original content. “Pressing On: The Letterpress Film” premiered in 2017 at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, TN. to rave reviews. The documentary explores the question—why has the letterpress survived in the digital age? The film was nominated for an Emmy for outstanding achievement in cinematography and the film’s trailer took home an Addy advertising award.
“The idea came to us from Erin Beckloff, a letterpress enthusiast and professor who wanted to document and preserve knowledge and traditions of the craft in the wake of its obsolescence,” Quinn says. “She introduced us to Dave Churchman and Dave Peat, two letterpress collectors living in Indianapolis. Combined, the ‘Daves’ have a larger collection of letterpress equipment than the Smithsonian.”
The growth over the last 11 years has been impressive to witness, even for the three friends. Vella says it’s crazy to think they started out renting space in the back of a friend’s business to now having an office, a studio and 12 employees with health care and a 401K opportunity.
So, where do the three college friends turned business partners go from here? QUINN says the future includes producing more original content. He says the industry is trending toward episodic streaming series. He says the need is more significant than ever, with the market being saturated with steaming services and more streamers than ever. QUINN says it’s a huge next step in the group’s careers.
“We also learned through making “Pressing On: The Letterpress Film, we were able to create empathy through filmmaking,” QUINN says. “It’s being used to connect people and is purpose-driven. Those kinds of projects are extremely satisfying to make. Audiences choose to watch it, whereas commercials are more of a passive viewership. However, we will continue to produce advertising, as well.”
The trio has grown from a group of friends with the same college major hanging out in their dorms at Ball State to a full-fledged production company producing splashy advertising and soul-satisfying original works.
To watch “Pressing On: The Letterpress Film,” visit letterpressfilm.com. Bayonet Media is located at 212 W 10th St A-345 in the Stutz. For more information, visit bayonetmedia.com.