Barton F. Graf Hires McCann Director to Serve as New Chief Strategy Officer and Appoints First COO

Savanah Brihn comes aboard June 25

From left: CSO Savanah Brihn and COO Sara Kastner. Barton F. Graf

Barton F. Graf, the quirky indie agency based in New York, announced today the hiring of Savanah Brihn as its new chief strategy officer. Brihn, who will join on June 25, most recently was senior vice president and group planning director at McCann New York, where she helped create the immersive “Space Projection Helmets” to promote National Geographic’s One Strange Rock series.

Brihn replaces Laura Janness, who left alongside former Barton CEO and co-founder Barney Robinson in April. The agency did not elaborate on either’s future plans, but according to Janness’ LinkedIn profile, she will be announcing a new role as founding partner and chief strategy officer of an unspecified company “soon.”

Additionally, Barton promoted head of project management Sara Kastner to chief operating officer, a new role for the agency, effective immediately.

Both Brihn and Kastner will report to founder and chief creative officer Gerry Graf, as well as work directly with new CEO Caroline Winterton.

“Strategy at Barton is the key to our creative process,” Graf said in a statement. “I spend more time with our chief strategy officer than probably anyone else. When it came to hiring a new CSO, we were very selective in the process. We interviewed dozens of candidates for the role, and it turned out that Savanah, who was one of the first people we met with, had the approach to planning and strategy we were looking for the entire time. She’s the perfect addition to our team.”

On Kastner’s promotion, Graf added, “Since the day she arrived, Sara has acted as the glue to hold everything together at Barton. She has kept me sane for the last four years. It was a no-brainer to give her a bigger role as COO so she can share her brand of zen calm with the entire agency.”

Kastner joined Barton in 2014, and in her most recent position as project management head, worked across all clients. Prior to that, she served in similar roles at agencies including Fallon, barrettSF and Wieden + Kennedy. As chief operating officer, she will continue to oversee all project management for Barton while driving creative-related operations.

Brihn, who before McCann held senior strategy stints at MTV and agency Redscout, will oversee Barton’s strategy department and work across all clients including Little Caesars, Diageo’s Bulleit and Ketel One, Supercell, Sour Patch Kids and Swedish Fish. Brihn also worked on brand strategy at BBDO and with brands such as MillerCoors, PepsiCo, FedEx and Mars.

“I’ve long admired Barton F. Graf and have been a big fan of Gerry for years,” Brihn said in a statement. “The work is so smart, it speaks for itself. When the opportunity to join the agency came about, I did not hesitate. I feel so lucky to be joining a group of people who want to push boundaries in insightful, memorable ways.”

Kastner added, “There’s no team out there like the one we have at Barton. It has been a great ride so far and I am thrilled. The momentum and energy at Barton right now feels fantastic. I look forward to continuing to help create the smart and unexpectedly entertaining work we’ve always made.”

@kitten_mouse Lindsay Rittenhouse is a staff writer at Adweek, where she specializes in covering the world of agencies and their clients.