Creative Profile: Adam Defrin from GREY
Job Title: Director/Associate Producer
How did you get into advertising? Where did you start?
I studied TV/Film Production in college, so when I graduated, I got an internship as an On-Set PA. I worked on the set of a couple of Movies and TV Shows, but the tasks I was performing didn’t involve any creativity, or actual hands-on execution of the Production, so I quit. I knew in order to get a job actually making videos myself, I needed to build a portfolio of productions I had personally created. So, I started making my own music videos. Not because I wanted to be taken seriously as a musician, but just as a fun way of showing off my ability to Shoot/Direct/Edit. My first music video got 150,000 hits on YouTube, and people started contacting me, saying things along the lines of “Really great video! I’m starting a new company and I could use a Creative video to promote it. Can you help?”. So, for the next 3 years, I continued making my music videos, and continued receiving requests from my audience to shoot/direct/edit videos for them. Eventually my music videos made their way in front of the eyes of recruiters at GREY, and they brought me in for an interview.
I never had any background or experience in Advertising, but growing up, I always had a great appreciation for clever advertisements and catchy jingles. So, I began working for them, in their Production department. The Producer role in the world of Advertising is much different than what I had known it to be. Producers in Advertising don’t actually shoot, direct, or edit any of the videos they Produce. Instead, they are more of a business person, facilitating communication between Creatives and Production Houses. This is what they had me doing at GREY, at first. Then one day, a Production was handed to me, and when we presented the Estimate to the Client, the Client expressed that they didn’t believe in the Creative enough to make it worth spending all that money. They were going to kill the idea. My Creatives on the project were really bummed, and I said “Hey, I can make this video for free, with just my personal camera, and my laptop to edit it. Maybe when they actually see the idea come to life, they’ll have a change of heart.” I did, and they did. So much so, that they actually bought what I made as is, and aired it as a National TV spot! My boss took note of this, and started to put me on more and more Productions that involved me creating the videos myself, in hopes of selling Creative to Clients. 23 times in a row the videos I made either successfully sold the Creative into a budgeted Full-Up, or were bought as is to go Live. Eventually I reached out to the President, and told him “Look at what I’ve been up to, and yet I still share the same title as all of the other Producers, who are doing a completely different job than me.” That’s when GREY created the “Director” title. Myself, as well as two other “Preditors” (PRoducer-EDITer-direcTOR), became the first Directors at GREY. Since then, that’s been my main focus. Actually executing Creative myself, from start to finish, on Productions that don’t have the type of budget to go out of house.
How long have you been at Grey, and what’s a day in the life of Adam Defrin?
My days are very random. People know me in the office as the guy who can make something out of nothing. So throughout the course of a day, Creatives working on any one of our Clients will reach out to me saying “I’ve got this idea, I don’t know if you have the time for it, but I’d love to see what you can do”. That’s my favorite part about my job. It’s so spontaneous from day to day. There are a lot of people at my company who have been working on the same clients and brands exclusively for over 20 years. I couldn’t imagine my life being so constant. This way, not only do I get to become familiar with all of the work going on around me, but I also get to work with everyone at my agency. And when you get a chance to work with so many creative and talented people, it helps grow your own personal production quality.
Essentially, your job title didn’t exist 10 years ago. How do you think advertising is changing?
Over the 4 years I’ve been at GREY, the first 3 were spent all on Broadcast. But the last year has been more focused on Social. An entire department has been created at GREY over the past year focused solely on creating content for our Clients’ Social pages. Facebook posts, Instagram images/videos, Tweets, etc. While the shift is just beginning, I think advertising agencies will eventually play a greater role in helping boost their clients’ social presences.
You’re currently working on a social media campaign for Papa John’s; can you tell us more about it? Where can we see it?
Papa John’s didn’t have much of a Social presence when we won their business last year. So we’ve created a bunch of programs lately in hopes of bringing excitement and a greater audience to their social channels. Posting creative content with high frequency to their Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, and Vine. Their broadcast spots focus entirely on the food, with lots of glamorous looking tabletop stuff. But for Social, we’ve gotten to have fun with it, involving more of their fans and culture.
In your opinion how/why does a campaign go viral? Is there a winning formula?
To me, viralability is based on two things. The first is human emotion. If you can make someone feel shock, nostalgia, laughter, or even tears, they will want to share it with the people they care about, so that they can experience those same emotions. The other is innovation. If it’s the first of its kind, something nobody’s ever seen before, people are impressed. And when people are impressed, they want to be one of the first to share it, because then they gain personal recognition for recognizing that a video will go viral in its early stages of release.