Farewell to a Super Hero: Griffin Farley


“And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”
~ Abraham Lincoln


I remember extremely well how I felt when Ben told me BBH were hiring Griffin. A mixture of ‘Bam! Yes!’ delight and excitement, with a small sliver of anxiety thrown in. I really hoped we would be worthy of him.

At the time, Griffin already had a thoroughly interesting and useful model for modern planning that he’d explored in public on his own blog. He called it Propagation Planning – “plan not for the people you reach, but the people they reach” – and it made a ton of sense. He practised and preached it with an elegant simplicity. He wrote beautifully. He wore a cool hat in his Twitter avatar photo. He had a name that sounded like it belonged to a mythical, dragon-fighting Knight. So far, so intimidating.

Of course it turned out Griffin was all of these things – incredibly smart, ahead of his time, thoughtful and wise beyond his years. But, miraculously, not in the slightest bit intimidating. Rather, he was the most generous of men; kind and good-hearted. He also immediately made himself indispensable. I’m not sure anyone else can claim to have played a major role simultaneously in the main agency, BBH Labs and BBH Zag. Griffin got everywhere… he made a difference to everyone.

It’s a rare thing, knowing someone who is truly talented and truly generous in equal measure. Very clever and very kind. Some people can pull that perfect balance off every now and then. Griffin was like that every single day. When I think about him in the weeks and years to come, it’s this that I will not forget.

As the e-book below (made for Griffin in the midst of his fight against cancer) attests, everyone at BBH – particularly all his close colleagues and friends at BBH New York, plus a lucky few of us in London – will remember Griffin for the great work he did, his absolute commitment right to the very end, his gentle optimism and his courage in the face of such adversity. But mostly, like everyone who was lucky enough to know him, we will remember the overflowing love he had for his family and his huge capacity for friendship.

RIP, Griffin. It’s an honour to say we knew you.

SuperGriffin eBook

Super Griffin eBook by Dean Woodhouse & Hugo Bierschenk, with the involvement of everyone at BBH New York.


12 Responses

  1. I had the absolute pleasure to have brought Griffin on at Hal Riney & Partners very early on in his career. He immediately became our secret weapon, tackling complex business and brand problems with a frightening calm.

    Once he put his teeth into something, he never rested until it was cracked – and even then he was pushing the ideas even further.

    Always a joy to have a beer, or three, with, Griffin was simply such a unique soul it’s incredibly hard to fathom him being stolen away from us all – particularly Katherine and his beautiful girls.

    He’ll never be forgotten, and we’re all better for having had him in our lives.

    Godspeed Griffin. RIP.

  2. I remember the first tweet announcing his arrival. From either you or Ben. I immediately followed him and we became SoMe friends and sharers. I invited Griffin to speak at BDW in NYC and talk about his work and propagation planning. He was nervous — his first big speaking gig, but so smart and willing to share. We had dinner at a Planningness conference and connected when we could. But it was never often enough. I will miss his quickness and charm and warmth. One of the good guys, for sure.

  3. Griffin was a great mind and an even greater person. From our back and forth blog comments to our occasional email volleys, he never ceased to amaze me with his sharp thinking. Even though we only met a handful of times, I feel like I’ve lost a close friend. You’re going to be missed so much, but you’re finally at peace. We’ve lost a good one 🙁

  4. Been reading his blog since college. He’s one of the people that inspired me to go into planning.

    I don’t think there’s a post I didn’t read. So sad that I never got to meet one of my personal ad industry heroes.

    R.I.P. Griffin

  5. Griffin and I talked online more than we ever did in person, but his spirit of collaboration, his lack of ego, and his enthusiasm came through in every interaction we had. Thanks so much for writing this post and highlighting what was not just an exceptional professional whose impact on the way people throughout the marketing industries think will continue to be made for years to come…but an exceptional person.

  6. I can easily remember, 3 years ago, when I was starting my first job as an intern in client service.. I wasnt very motivated because I couldnt understand how brands were beeing shaped were I worked. It didnt make any sense to mee. During that time, i started going deep in the web, trying to learn and to know what people from different places were thinking about it. And I can asure that the first time I entered Griffin`s blog, it all appeared very clear to me. Ive never had the opportunity to know Griffin or even chat with him online. But his blog and, most important, his toughts are the reasons that kept me working with brands, and enlightened my conscience. I got really surprised and sad.. But, as people said here, he was a really different person, and his will to share and cobuild ideias and toughts are what shall remain for us..

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