Seven years ago, Andrew Keller and the Burger King creative team at Crispin Porter + Bogusky put a young social network called Facebook in an awkward situation. A campaign called Whopper Sacrifice offered Facebook users a free Whopper for every 10 people they unfriended. The problem was, the campaign generated notifications to people letting them know they’d been dropped — a no-no on the burgeoning site. The campaign was torpedoed, but not before making its impact. Keller and Crispin had heralded the arrival of a new type of advertising, using social media and its ability to build online communities to share brand messages.
In April, Keller — an art director by trade — became the first global creative director for Facebook Creative Shop, helping agencies and brands best leverage the platform to reach its 1.65 billion users. He reports to chief creative officer Mark D’Arcy.
The job is as challenging as it is familiar, Keller says. Facebook’s "mission is all about helping people share and making the world more open and connected — advertising plays right into that," says Keller during an interview last month at Facebook’s New York offices. "We connect businesses and people. What we can accomplish here is huge."
Speaking to the press for the first time since joining Facebook, Keller discusses what it’s been like to join the 150-person team and his first few weeks on the job.
Why did you decide to join Facebook as opposed to another agency?
I've loved advertising, and after 17 years, I just thought, I need some change. I want to try something different. And there are all these people that I love working with in advertising — people I’ve either worked with or met through awards juries — and I wondered, is there a way to work with more of them? To solve problems with people I love? That was the thing that made Facebook really compelling; I'm in a position where I get to collaborate with so many great creative people that I know from all sorts of different places.
What is the role of the global creative director at Facebook?
I hope to be an advocate for creativity inside Facebook. Collaborate with agencies to figure out the best ways to tell the best stories and create the most meaning on the platform. That's really my mission. I hope that creative people and brands say, "I think Facebook is a place I believe I'm going to do my best work."
What were your first few weeks on the job like?
It's interesting because there are these small pivots. The word "hack" is a really powerful verb to the culture of Facebook, but in advertising a hack is someone that's terrible in advertising. A lot of learning. When I started there were a lot of new products that were coming out, and that are still coming out, so trying to keep up with all of that. I want to learn all this stuff, I'm studying it, and I'm trying to get all the product stuff down.
What have you learned that you wish you had known when you were on the agency side?
This is going to sound really weird, but how awesome agencies are. Just sitting inside an agency, I had no idea. And then when you leave and you could look back and the culture is so much fun and there's a real focus on creative ideas. The opportunity for storytelling and connecting to brands. It's very real. It’s all going to become simpler, frankly, from the landscape that we had five years ago, "What media form? It's all fractured and I don't know." It’s become simpler, as aided by mobile and videos helping to streamline it.
What is the question you are hearing most from agencies?
Whether it's true or not, there's an element, from an advertising landscape, that television is at the center. But Facebook has this intimate relationship with people — you're right next to their friends in the feed. And there's so much data that we can know about all these people. When you consider what we have at scale--the number of people on Facebook is 1.65 billion — and that connection, it’s a big deal. The scale has come, but what was missing were these creative spaces. Canvas, for example, the advent of mobile. When all that comes together, I think there's an opportunity that, if you want to simplify the landscape, I would consider putting Facebook at the center.
How do you feel about your move to Facebook being held up as yet another example of agency talent heading to technology companies?
It was weird. I probably will get involved with collaborating around the design of products as they maybe connect with advertising, but it's not like I'm building product. I'm working within the realm of advertising at Facebook. Are there people from CP+B that went to those kinds of places? More of them went to other agencies or started their own agencies than went to Facebook, or Google, or Apple. Frankly, I love advertising. I was always annoyed by people that were in advertising but wished they were in film. It’s like, well go make a movie if you want to make a movie. We're making advertising here. There are all kind of ways to be creative, and all kinds of ways to be fulfilled.