Gerry Graf and Maxi Itzkoff begin Slap International collectively
After the independent New York City store officially closed its doors and held its own funeral, the natural question was what its founder Gerry Graf would do next. Over a year after Barton F. Graf's funeral, we finally have an answer.
Graf teamed up with Maxi Itzkoff, a former partner and CCO at Santo of WPP, to create Slap Global, a global, creativity-led business accelerator. Before joining Santo, Itzkoff was Executive Creative Director for Del Campo Saatchi & Saatchi for approximately seven and a half years, followed by over two years as CCO at Saatchi & Saatchi Europe.
Slap Global operates in Buenos Aires, Madrid and New York. Santo will be based in Buenos Aires, while Graf will score in New York. A third founding member of Slap Global, Adrián Mediavilla, who was previously CSO at Gray Group Spain, will take the helm in Madrid.
In the US, due to brand issues, the company will operate as Knickerbocker Slap Global (there appears to be an existing agency called Slap Agency).
Graf stated that the name came from his love for New York City. It refers to the title character in Washington Irving's satire A History of New York from the Beginning of the World to the End of the Dutch Dynasty by Diedrich Knickerbocker, which Irving initially promoted with a joke about the fictional author.
The name Slap Global underscores the business accelerator's goal of serving as a “global wake-up call” for the industry, Graf explained.
The company will work with companies to develop solutions for a variety of ways beyond traditional advertising, including strategies for branding experiences, branding purpose, communication platforms, design, new business development and new products. Graf stated that the company will address a variety of customer business problems through creativity.
"I've been saying for 14 years that if it's smart enough, creative enough, everything an agency does is a piece of communication. That hasn't changed," Graf told Adweek, a point of view that is at the heart of philosophy and of Slap Global's approach.
“We need talent and good thinking to support this, and the model of working remotely and having access to some of the best minds on three continents helps us support these types of ideas,” he added.
The company currently has eight full-time employees and works with freelancers, including four in New York. According to Graf, more employees will increase to 12 in the coming weeks.
Slap Global arose organically from mutual admiration and appreciation for each other's work and complementary creative approaches by Graf and Itzkoff at a time when Graf was looking for a partner for a new company.
"I haven't been in the industry for about a year and have spoken to quite a few people. I was looking for a perfect partner as best I can. Nobody is perfect. I've just been waiting for this person who you respect and know, that you can work with her and be successful. That came with Maxi, "said Graf." Maxi thinks creatively in different spaces than I've traditionally done. He brings me to a different way of thinking; I'll do the same for him. We will be as tough as possible on whether an idea is good or not. "