The casket lay open to its inhabitant: a small stuffed mouse. A black wreath hung behind the podium. A sea of black-clad mourners watched on as two frat-boy-looking creatives, one in a colorful striped sweater and the other in a plaid flannel and jeans, stepped up to deliver the eulogy.
The one in plaid, Joey Ianno, looked at the other in stripes, Matty Smith, then glanced at himself up and down before announcing to the room, “I feel pretty overdressed.” He then shed his jeans to reveal much tighter knee-high denim pants that he revealed are actually his wife’s, who watched on in what appeared to be amusement from the second row. After stripping, Ianno admitted something still didn’t feel quite right, and the two picked up a beer and chugged.
The sea of mourners clapped and howled.
No, this is not the opening scene of a new comedy starring Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson. It’s the final outlandish stunt by Barton F. Graf 9000 the independent creative shop behind some of advertising’s wackiest work that announced its closing in August. On Thursday evening, the agency founded in 2010 by Gerry Graf threw itself a funeral—a fitting bon voyage. It wasn’t his first; in 2014, Graf threw a funeral for the industry at Advertising Week.
And, because one can expect nothing less from Gerry Graf, the sendoff was downright bizarre. The night included a New Orleans-style second line jazz band, memorial cards, an open bar and even a priest—whose business card actually reads Brandon Armstrong, a comical special event speaker. Armstrong delivered a reading that revealed a lot about the agency, referencing at one point, the furor over its 2015 GoDaddy Super Bowl spot in which a lost puppy is found—only to be sold.
“There is a time to do a Super Bowl spot about a lost puppy, and a time to answer phone calls from angry grandmothers who want you dead,” Armstrong said.
There were jokes cracked at the expense of Graf (the mouse in the casket was a nod to the shop’s “Dead Mouse Theater” ads for Tomcat), the agency and even journalists—Graf mocked in his speech reporters’ overuse of the words “weird and quirky” in their descriptions of Barton F. Graf through the years. Still, a sadness hung in the air, not only for Barton F. Graf, but the “death” of this award-winning creative shop was seem by some as a bad omen for indie agencies increasingly bogged down by client budget cuts and shifts to project and in-house work.
“I’m not really sure how eulogies work, but I imagine it’s when people just stand up here and air their grievances to make themselves not feel so fucking sad for a minute,” Barton F. Graf Creative Director Kasia Canning said in her speech to the room. She roasted the agency, reminiscing about certain memories Graf probably would have wished she hadn’t, such as when one employee’s Airbnb had bed bugs on a shoot because they “couldn’t afford a hotel.” …read more
Via:: Ad Age B to B