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Facebook From A Madison Avenue Perspective: Gerry Graf Joins Creative Council


GerryGrafFacebook welcomed Barton F. Graf 9000 Founder and Chief Creative Officer Gerry Graf to its Creative Council, and the advertising veteran, who also served as chief creative officer of Saatchi and Saatchi New York, participated in a question-and-answer session on the Facebook for Business page.

While at Saatchi and Saatchi, Graf worked on campaigns including “Hooray Beer! for Red Stripe; the Kayak brain surgeon; and bringing Ragú into the bedroom.

Current Barton F. Graf 9000 clients include Dish Network, Finlandia, and Wishbone.

The entire Q&A is available here, and highlights follow:

With Ragú, we did a piece of advertising on Facebook about how to feed your evil kid. The traditional logic would be that you couldn’t say something like that — mothers love their kids, so there’s no way you could call their kids evil. But if you ask any parent, they’ll tell you right away that, yeah, sometimes their kids are evil little monsters. And I guess it’s that aspect of reality that I’m working with a lot of the time.

Whenever a company or brand speaks, we’ve all been trained, from growing up in front of the TV, to tune out the message. We block out ad speak. Anytime I’m doing an ad, I like to think the way humans speak. When you’re talking that way, peoples’ defenses are lowered. They know you’re not just totally full of crap.

I don’t know if it’s that brands don’t enjoy speaking directly. I think the frightening part is that people can speak back to you now. In the old broadcast model, brands could just shout at people. If people were upset, it took them at least a week to write a letter or find the time to call and complain. So a lot of brands got used to speaking in ways that weren’t entirely honest. No one was calling them on it.

Now people can respond instantly. It makes for a bit of fear on the part of marketers, and I think everyone is still trying to figure it out. That’s why I think some of the best campaigns on Facebook so far have been really honest. Brands like Newcastle are being honest about their motives, but they’re having fun with the medium at the same time. And that’s fantastic.

The best use of Facebook comes from brands with a clear and distinct voice. When a brand knows who it is and understands how it is connected to its consumers and pop culture, that’s when things work best.

We study what connections, good or bad, we have with people who use our product and play off of that. We always start with simple static pieces of creative — mini Facebook print ads. They seem to be the best way to stand out in someone’s News Feed. We also operate like a newsroom. Each morning, we meet and see what is going on in culture, in the news — is there something we can associate our brands with? We also keep a daily watch on comments and shares, to see which execution is getting sticky and try to fuel the fire.

Any form of spam will be valued the least — anything that’s in your face, unwanted. You need to give people a choice as to whether or not they’ll see it. I think that’s why Facebook has a very easy-to-find button highlighting spam. People don’t want to feel hoodwinked for opting into something. They want to feel like it’s a fair transaction.

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