Barton F. Graf has expanded its creative leadership team, naming former JWT North America chief creative officer Jeff Benjamin as partner and executive creative director.
Benjamin will be tasked with leading creative direction for new and existing clients while reporting to founder and chief creative officer Gerry Graf. Benjamin’s appointment, which is effective immediately, follows the arrivals last year of group creative director Nate Naylor and head of communications strategy Dominic Poynter, and the July departure of ecd and partner Scott Vitrone.
“Jeff and I have been talking about what it would be like to work together for years,” Graf said in a statement. “I asked him to join Barton when we first started 6 years ago, but the timing wasn’t right.”
The statement goes on to say: “His biggest asset has always been his versatility of thinking across channels and his optimism for experimentation, and those traits have been refined even more after working on the client side for the last year. When you put the two of us together, the creative possibilities are endless. We’ve had a wicked run at Barton. I think with Jeff coming on, we’re about to start a new chapter.”
Benjamin arrives at Barton F. Graf from Bark & Co., a pet-care startup where he served as a creative consultant working on everything from brand strategy to marketing and product innovation. He joined JWT to lead its North American creative operations in January of 2012 and worked with clients including Nestle, Puma, Macy’s, Johnson & Johnson, Google, Kleenex and Royal Caribbean before leaving the agency in August 2014.
The following June, he launched his own Brooklyn-based venture called Disco and pitched Lyft as one of the “wildcards” in the company’s agency of record search. Before joining JWT, Benjamin spent over eight years at CP+B in Boulder, working his way up to partner and chief creative officer while working with brands including Microsoft, Domino’s, Coke Zero, Vitamin Water, American Express and MetLife.
“Gerry has always had an unapologetic love of advertising, and so have I,” Benjamin said in a statement.
“To us, anything and everything that finds its way into culture—moving people, helping people, and making them feel differently about brands to create growth—is marketing,” he added. “And while this new definition of advertising starts to emerge, it will always begin with simple, iconic ideas. … Barton have been courageously championing creativity that reminds us all why we love advertising, and I can’t wait to join them.”