Barton F. Graf Hires 10 New Staffers to Form an ‘Agency Within the Agency’ Called … Barton F. Graf

Indie shop showcases signature irreverence in announcing new staff

Partner and executive creative director Jeff Benjamin joined the agency earlier this year.
Courtesy of Barton F. Graf

Barton F. Graf, the independent agency founded in 2010 by former Saatchi & Saatchi New York chief creative officer Gerry Graf, has added 10 new members to its staff across disciplines while attempting to sow confusion among trade reporters everywhere.

From its apparent obsession with rats and awkward portraits to its insistence on working with slightly off-kilter clients like Little Caesars and Emerald Nuts, the agency undoubtedly “keeps it weird.”

The subject line of the pitch announcing the latest news was no exception. It read: “Barton F. Graf Hires Ten All-Stars to Create ‘An Agency Within the Agency.’ But the Larger Agency Will be Folded Into the Smaller Agency and the Smaller Agency Will Also be Called Barton F. Graf.”

To clarify, there is no new agency within Barton F. Graf. But the Manhattan shop has hired a wave of new talent including the following:

  • Copywriter Lauren Cooper and art director Erika Kohnen, who join from Deutsch and formerly worked on that agency’s Cannes-winning “The World’s Largest Pinterest Sale” for Krylon
  • Creative director Marco Kaye, a veteran of Wieden + Kennedy and Google who more recently made his name as a freelance humorist for publications like The New Yorker and McSweeney’s
  • Senior art director Hedvig Kushner, who formerly held top roles at DDB and Mother and worked on such brands as Pepsi, Unilever, Target and Tanqueray
  • Strategy director Ellery Luse, formerly with Fallon of Minneapolis where she worked on Arby’s and other accounts
  • Strategist Helene Dick, who joins from Vice-owned digital agency Carrot
  • Director of corporate communications Katherine Dorey, who held the same role in the New York office of The Martin Agency
  • Account director Brandon Owens, an ad veteran who most recently worked on Citi at Publicis New York
  • Senior designer Christopher Kelley of Saatchi & Saatchi
  • Longtime photographer Saul Metnick, a faculty member at the International Center of Photography and a former freelancer at The New York Times who joins the agency in the senior producer role

“What makes this particular group so exciting for the agency has a lot to do with their diverse backgrounds, interests and experiences,” said partner and chief strategy officer Laura Janness.

The latest hires also follow that of partner and executive creative director Jeff Benjamin, the former JWT leader who joined the agency in February to effectively serve as Graf’s second in command on the creative side of the business.

At least one trade publication was amused by Barton F. Graf’s roundabout way of announcing its new hires. One would expect nothing less from a business that may or may not have been named for a classic video game item whose acronym literally stands for “Big Fucking Gun.”

In order to clear up any (intentional) confusion, the agency officially dropped the 9000 from its name in 2016, explaining to Adweek at the time that “the original intent of the name was for Gerry to, posthumously, give his dad the company he always wanted to start while he was alive.”