Buzzfeed has hired Jeff Greenspan, an exec with Madison Avenue and Silicon Valley experience, as its first chief creative officer.
The hire comes as the fast-growing digital-media company aims to work with brands and agencies to develop innovative sponsorship ideas and ad units. Traditional print publishers such as Condé Nast have been known to hire agency talent to develop in-house creative service teams, but the hiring of a chief creative officer at a young digital-media company is relatively rare.
Mr. Greenspan comes to Buzzfeed from Facebook, where he worked for a year collaborating with agencies and marketers to develop ads and campaigns that Facebook users would want to share. Prior to Facebook, Mr. Greenspan worked at Omnicom Group's BBDO, New York and Interpublic Group of Cos.' R/GA.
The majority of Buzzfeed's revenue comes from the content lists and posts it creates for advertisers that run in the same story streams as its editorial content. Taking cues from how it develops its own editorial posts, Buzzfeed works with advertisers to craft written posts and image galleries that readers will want to share with their followers on Twitter and Facebook.
But increasingly, agencies and brands have been looking to add more innovative, long-term projects to their campaigns with Buzzfeed, such as GE's recent "Buzzfeed Time Machine" sponsorship, according to company president Jon Steinberg.
Without a full-time "big idea" guy, "We felt like were leaving some opportunities on the table," Mr. Steinberg told Ad Age.
In his new role, Mr. Greenspan will oversee a 15-person creative team. He's bringing two new hires along with him to Buzzfeed, both of whom he's previously worked with in some capacity: Chris Baker, formerly of Google and BBDO, and one of the creators of the Unbaby.me browser plug-in that filters out baby photos from Facebook news feeds; and Mike Lacher, who worked with Messrs. Greenspan and Baker on The World's Most Exclusive Website.
In an interview, Mr. Greenspan said he and the other two new additions have a long list of ideas they haven't built yet that could be matched up with brands for Buzzfeed campaigns.
"A lot of agencies come up with big ideas, but they're not taking advantage of the organic behavior and conversations happening online," he said.
Mr. Greenspan is perhaps best known as the man behind the "Tourist Lane" project, which saw him divide a stretch of sidewalk on New York City's Fifth Avenue into separate lanes for tourists and New Yorkers. He's also one of the minds behind the "hipster traps" that popped up around New York City last year.