Here’s Why Gerry Graf Is the Best Speaker During Advertising Week

Once again, the industry's class clown injects levity into all the serious talk

Just when you thought Advertising Week could not get more full of itself, along comes Gerry Graf.

Graf, the founder of Barton F. Graf 9000 and genuine smartass, today used the occasion of defining bravery in advertising to do what he does best: inject levity into a sea of seriousness. In closing remarks every bit as irreverent as his death to TV advertising eulogy two years ago, Graf chalked up fear of bravery to one thing: losing money.

Billed as tips on how to be brave, the rapid-fire, mini-speech skewered a littany of sacred cows in advertising. Graf's words were interrupted just once—by the roar of laughter from a packed hall at the Times Center in New York.

"The reason why people don't take chances is because they're afraid, right? And what are they afraid of? They're afraid of losing their jobs. That's why people are not brave in our industry. So, they're afraid of not having money," Graf began, somewhat seriously. "I would remove fear from the equation, and I have some suggestions for both clients and agency people.

"Keep the overhead low. Don't get married. Don't have children. Have no dependents. Avoid second mortgages. Try to pay everything in cash.

"Follow the lead of Steve Jobs and stay unmarried for as long as possible, so you can spend all your time at work," Graf added, helpfully. "Don't buy a boat. Move to Queens. If you are married, do not get divorced. Love your spouse with all your heart and make sure they love you because one, love is good and everything, and two, nothing kills a creative career like divorce."

Barely taking a breath, Graf moved in for the close.

"Alimony can make you stay at horrible jobs," he said plainly to knowing laughter and applause. "If you have your own company and you get divorced, you can lose half of that, right? So, love, love, love. And if you have kids, you can ignore them until they're about 5; they won't remember."

Finally—and sadly for us—he reached the end, urging the crowd to "work very hard during that stretch and remember, public schools are fine. So, here's to love and here's to bravery."

Can't wait to see what he comes up with next year.