Pop Culturalist As CEO

I don’t know how someone as irreverent as Steven Grasse of Gyro got past my radar, but he did. Until now. Now, I know there is at least one kook running a major agency today. There may be hope for our kind yet.
Here are some excerpts from an Adweek piece on Grasse that ran last fall:

In addition to doing ads for clients such as Puma, RJ Reynolds and Virgin Records, Grasse, 40, has turned his avocations into vocations. He has cashed in on the lad-mag appeal of rude clothing with his G-Mart and Sailor Jerry lines, and he directs the cult-film series Bikini Bandits.
What do you think is the most overrated campaign?
iPod. What is it? A bunch of silhouettes standing around? What the fuck is that? It’s kind of like my experience with MTV, making videos. If you’ve got a hit song, it doesn’t matter what the video is. The iPod is a hit product; it didn’t matter what the ads were.
Who do you despise most in advertising?
What’s his name-Bogusky? I think he’s a hypocrite. What’s up with the Burger King shit? You can’t do the “Truth” [anti-tobacco ads] and [handle a fast-food company like] Burger King at the same time.
What’s the smartest business decision you’ve ever made?
To not get bought out.

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. Brian Bernier says:

    The fact that Grasse disses Bogusky for the “Truth” ads is especially hypocritical in light of the fact that Gyro “handles creative chores for Reynolds’ Salem and Camel brands” What a pigfucker!

  2. I’m not entirely clear what Grasse was going for with that comment. Does he mean CP+B can’t handle two big accounts? Or does he mean it’s hypocritical to sell consumer advocacy on one hand and fast food on the other? Whatever he means, I’m always happy to give press to anyone who’s tired of the Coconut Grovesters.

  3. Carl LaFong says:

    I don’t think Grasse is a hypocrite: just a shameless showboater with an axe to grind. I haven’t read the interview, but I don’t think Grasse makes any secret of – or apologies for – shilling cancer sticks. Naturally, he is going to be none too pleased with the agency behind the “Truth” campaign.
    But however tainted his motives, Grasse is right to call Crispin on the carpet for condemning tobacco manufacturers and marketers while pimping artery-clogging fast food. (I think that’s what he was referring to, David.) Call it irony, call it inconsistency – but it’s an issue you won’t see raised by a press in thrall to the fair-haired lads of Coconut Grove, who accept everything they do without question or criticism.

  4. Puppy Dog Milkshake says:

    Bogusky is Polish for “Bogus.” Fraud.
    As for Grasse, this guy does ads for Virgin, and then does a Bikini film full of sluts who aren’t virgins. So he’s a hippoKrit to.

  5. Brian Bernier says:

    Geez, I

  6. I feel kind of bad for Gyro. This is an agency that branched out and did cool merchandise, online video applications, new products, virtual stores, all that dating 10 B.CP+B. They made brands cool with very brash and bold ideas, some I don’t have a clue how you’d sell to clients.

  7. I do have to give him credit for taking down the iPod campaign a notch. In interviewing MBA students for our summer internship this spring, about 50% of them answered the “brand you admire” question by talking about the iPod ads. It really helped us winnow down our applications.

  8. Trying so hard to be or represent as something you are not is hypocrisy in itself…

  9. Brian Bernier says:

    WTF. Why are you guys all so angry? Can