The agency formerly known as BFG 9000 is growing up. Now simply Barton F. Graf, or Barton for short—after founder and CCO Gerry Graf's father—the agency still delivers cheeky campaigns for clients like Supercell, Scotts Miracle-Gro and Little Caesars. But two years ago, the shop found it was outgrowing its New York office.
"The lines outside the bathrooms in the old office were getting uncomfortably long," said CEO Barney Robinson. "We created a temporary fix, hooking up a Raspberry Pi to the bathroom doors, so you could check on your computer and phone whether any were free.. We called it Bathroom F. Graf. But we really needed to find somewhere with more stalls, fast."
When the agency found a larger spot across town, its Madison Avenue address was "purely coincidental," assured Robinson. Once the size issue was solved, the team moved in and made the space home, outfitting the open workspace with quirky mementos, souvenirs from past client work and, of course, shiny accolades.
The wall portraits, including Barnaby Jones and Winston Churchill, is a collection of inside jokes. "Our CEO is British, and in my head, he sounds like Winston Churchill," said Graf.
The agency has won over 100 industry awards since its 2012 inception. "Our favorite is probably the 4A’s Mid-Sized Agency of the Year," said Robinson. He added, "You have to demonstrate breakthrough thinking across your entire body of work. That, and they misspelled the agency’s name on the award, to the much grander-sounding Baron F. Graf."
Barton granted mice their "last wishes" in a campaign for rat-bait peddler and client Tomcat. "The mouse with the flute had a dream of playing in front of a million people."
The Gerry Approved stamp.
Two things get the stamp: ideas that Graf gives final approval on and the agency Christmas cards, naturally.
In a Name
Also known as Madison Avenue.
This story first appeared in the Jan. 18 issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.