Ari Merkin is the chief creative officer and co-founder of the boutique ad agency Toy.
A New York native and Parsons grad, Merkin made a name for himself in the late '90s at Crispin Porter + Bogusky in Miami with the "Truth" anti-smoking campaign and an award-winning series of spots for Ikea (the famous "Many of you feel sorry for this lamp" spot). Merkin was eventually lured back to New York to work at Cliff Freeman & Partners. In 2003, he jumped ship and became executive creative director at Fallon/N.Y., where he created campaigns for the likes of Starbucks, Sobe, and Brawny paper towels. He also created Virgin Mobile's memorable "Nude" ad, featuring naked hipsters posing with their phones in the meatpacking district, as well as the company's buzzy Chrismahanukwanzakah campaign.
In 2005, Merkin and former Fallon/N.Y. president Anne Bologna went off to launch Toy. (It appears to have been a crushing blow to the agency: Fallon shut down the New York office after their departure.) Since starting up Toy, they've landed a slew of big-name clients, including Amazon.com, Walt Disney Co., Anheuser Busch, Office Max, and the Oxygen network. Their 2006 "Elf Yourself" campaign for Office Max was a surprise hit, and racked up more than 200 million visits in under six weeks.
In 2003, Ari Merkin won an unprecedented 13 Pencils at the One Show.
For the record
Merkin is an Orthodox Jew (the pan-religious Chrismahanukwanzakah campaign notwithstanding). He lives with his wife, Roneet, and their four children in Teaneck.