Ze Frank

Executive Vice President of Video at Buzzfeed.com
Internet Celebrity, Entrepreneur and Viral Media Consultant

Emotional connections in a virtual world.

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Biography

"Ze Frank is a rare gem" — Jack Black, LA Times

An "Internet Impresario" — The Courier-Mail

"Internet Legend" — The Guardian

Forbes Top 25 Web Celebrities

Ze Frank (pronounced "Zay") is one of the most influential online entertainers, turning out one online hit after another for years. He brings audiences an experience they will never forget, a truly entertaining and yet insightful look at how technology and creativity intersect, especially in web design, marketing and new forms of media.

Ze has unique experience doing new media design and marketing for important customers, helping them understand how to create contagious and viral media, how to leverage social media, and how to think about creative development in general.

He has frequently appeared at such annual technology events as Pop!Tech and the TED Conference and his online projects have attracted international attention. He created a series of video commentaries for TIME.com entitled That Makes Me Think Of...

Ze Frank has TEDGlobal literally weeping for joy.
What a genius the man is. #TED
— @TEDChris (TED curator, 2010)

Here's a run-down of Ze’s latest work:

A Show
‘A Show’ by Ze Frank is the recently revived and crowdfunded venture by Ze. Originally airing in 2006, the show aired 5 times a week. This past April, in order to bring it back, Ze raised over $150,000 on Kickstarter from old and new fans alike — the initial fundraising goal was $50,000. The Economist says of it, "Mr Frank's show was unique in 2006, and remains remarkable in 2012".

Star.me
Ze is creator and CEO of the new social gaming site Star.me. The premise is simple, even as adults we seek gratitude and validation. Star.me brings us back to the day of goldstars and the simple joy these illicit. Users are encouraged to participate in ‘Missions of the Day’, sometimes guest curated by other social media celebrities.

Young Me, Now Me
Ze’s original social experiment started in 2010 asked participants to reenact childhood photos as adults. The phenomenon resulted in the recently published book, Young Me, Now Me . Photos were not limited to the hilarious; as noted in The Huffington Post, ‘others are poignant reminders of how much people change - and how much they stay the same’

Ze is very funny and energetic as a presenter. He’s full of valuable ideas and is a creative inspiration. Very few speakers so effectively combine style with content, humor with ideas and insight. He is a very effective moderator and host, with special interest in social media, digital marketing, viral media, and online community.

Here's a tip: ask Ze to host or conclude your event. For conferences with multiple speakers, Ze can observe every presentation and comedically regurgitate each to wrap up your event with a bang. Here are just a few of the reactions to this year’s TED finale:

  • "Let me explain my 'off the charts' rating for Ze, who is, admittedly, a friend of mine. It gets that rating because he watched every performance, took notes, talked to other people, and over the course of 3 days — probably most of it done in 24 hrs at the end — compiled fantastic visuals and spot-on parody of most of the presenters in a hilarious but not tacky or mean way, with seamless rapid-fire execution ... it was a tour-de-force! WHO else can do that? Unbelievable!"
  • "Ze Frank — brave and inspired choice to wrap things up."
  • "And Ze Frank? Wow. Where did he find the time to put that together. He's scary smart/funny.Terrific session - a great way to end the conference!"
  • "Ze was smart and funny — hit all the right critiques."
  • "Ze Frank was a hit. He should be performing every year doing the same synopsis of the TED talks. His clever humor really does a good job at a quick refresh of everything we saw. It can get so mind boggling with all the information that is shared. His humor is a great tool to solidify the past talks into memory. Ze Frank was the perfect ending."
  • "Ze Frank was phenomenal — a great way to end our shared experience."

Credentials

  • Executive Vice President of Video at Buzzfeed.con
  • Advisory board of Bazaarvoice.com and Buzzfeed.com
  • Consults numerous clients on a wide range of issues, from the future of television to online marketing to social media.
  • Adjunct at New York University, Parsons The New School for Design, SUNY-Purchase, and has guest lectured at Pratt Institute and the Royal College of Art in London.

Books

Young Me, Now Me

Identical Photos, Different Decades

Ze Frank

Amazing Photo Pairs — One a Cherished Childhood Snapshot, the Other a Spot-On Accurate, Heartwarming, and Often Hilarious Modern Recreation

Everyone has childhood photographs that make them smile, laugh, even tear up. Young Me, Now Me starts with dozens of these wonderful old snapshots then blasts the cute quotient into the stratosphere by showing a second version of the same photo taken decades later by participants who have recreated the location, dress, pose, facial expressions and every other little detail in the original — with eerily accurate and highly amusing results. Features 140 full-color photographs, Young Me, Now Me presents the best of the best photo submissions to the popular blog of the same name along with charming anecdotes and colorful back stories for each. From a balding middle-aged man in short pants, white dress shirt, red tie, sandals, and socks squatting behind a tricycle just as he did 40 years ago to a painstakingly recreated family photo showing six generations in one frame, each image pair in Young Me, Now Me proves — in the most entertaining way possible — that as much as things change, cherished moments remain forever.

Ulysses Press (October 11, 2011)

Topics

Ze tailors each presentation to the needs of his audience and is not limited to the topics we have listed below. These are subjects that have proven valuable to customers in the past and are meant only to suggest his range and interests. Please ask us about any subject that interests you; we are sure that we can accommodate you.

If you're looking for something more fun and out of the ordinary, these talks can function as an evening's entertainment or as a counterpoint to an otherwise serious day of sessions. They are a collection of smart and funny stories that go beyond mere stand-up comedy and often incorporate material related to the conference theme.

Contagious Media: Beyond Viral Marketing

Length: 45 to 60 minutes.

Viral Marketing campaigns are risky and even when they work it is hard to convert that success into long-term value. Network–oriented thinking shouldn’t be in isolation, it should permeate all facets of a brand's online and offline presence.

This talk draws upon years of experience as a creator of widely shared media, as the facilitator of massive online communities, and as a social media consultant to a wide range of industries.

How do you build in “social imperatives” so that people share your media? How do you build opportunities for your customers to show you what they think is interesting? How can you use statistics to adjust your strategy in real time? How do you create “emotional resonance” with your audience? Once you have started a conversation with the audience, how do you keep it going? How do you increase participation and how do you get people to talk behind your back?

Values: Marketing in a connected world—how to effectively engage online audiences.

Contagious Media Workshop

Length: two 45 minute talks and an hour of moderated question and answer directed at the company's specific challenges.

Ze and colleague Jonah Peretti, co-founder of HuffingtonPost, cover contagious media in depth from both cultural and practical standpoints. The two presentations are followed by a planned Q&A session to address the specific concerns of the brand or company.

Smart Fun—The Hard Way: Lessons Learned from a Life Online

Length: Variable, up to an hour.

Through stories, interactive applications and tons of slides, Ze talks about his crazy experiences in the online world, starting with a viral hit that propelled him into the center stage of online celebrity (before that even existed) through the creation of the world’s first earth sandwich, to a two thousand person game of ro-sham-bo, to collaboratively written music about anxiety, to a dress up your vacuum cleaners bit. A funny and often touching look at the modern struggle of connecting with a vast but unseen audience.

Values: How to connect with your audience. How to change with the changing desires of your audience. Fun.

Smart Fun—Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Everything

Length: Variable, up to an hour; can also be done as a series of short interstitials throughout a conference.

A collection of visuals and stories inspired by years of online curiosity and research. From the history of airplane safety cards to the audience-assisted search for the creator of a random online viral audio clip. Very funny and fast paced. In the style of the performance that was a hit at the Ted conference, etc…

Values: Fun.

Thinking Social

Length: 45 to 60 minutes.

Using a mix of personal anecdotes and examples from companies that get it or don’t, this talk tries to get at the big questions surrounding social media.

Audiences are becoming more engaged and increasingly expect to be able to interact, give their opinions and converse with brands.

When and how do you decide to engage in social media platforms? How much time do you devote to social media and who should be doing it? If you think of social media as a “conversation” with your customers, then what is your brand’s “voice” and how do you find it? How do you keep the conversation going using “action chains” targeted at specific user expectations? How do you increase participation and maximize its value? What can be measured and what can’t?

The goal of the talk is to present the costumer with ways of thinking about these questions, and models for moving forward in an ever-changing landscape.

Values: Marketing in a connected world—how to approach Social Media; how to get the most from your customers.

Videos

Are you human? | TED

How Buzzfeed Makes a 'Creepy' Video go Viral | Nightline

Ze Frank's web playroom | TED

Feedback

A trade association for retail and supply companies:
He was fantastic! Great speaker, lots of laughs from the audience and they could be heard quoting some of his stuff days later. I’d recommend him to any other technology/marketing/forward-thinking group! He was very easy to work with onsite and very professional.

A merchant-led trade association:
Ze’s speech was well received by our audience and was exactly what we were looking for. Here are some of the comments from our post-conference survey regarding Ze:

  • The opening speech was fantastic!
  • Ze Frank was a jewel, very happy to see him.
  • Interesting subjects and Ze Frank (in response to "What did you like about the Summit")
  • Great keynote speaker
  • I liked so much the "think different" performance of Ze Frank

A major internet company:
It was GREAT! We all loved him, the audience loved him and I got good feedback from a variety of people and we got some good press on him.

He was charming, intelligent, philosophical and humorous. He BROUGHT it and it was a wonderful way to kick off our [...] Summit. We had over 400 people attend the summit and it was standing room only.

You were great to work with as well – very organized with the media kit and providing everything we needed to get Ze there on stage.

An international funeral trade association:
As a keynote speaker and panelist at our March 2010 Convention, Ze Frank delivered information on a complicated topic that gave our audience members a road map for the immediate future. This was no small accomplishment - sending them out with steps they could implement right away. But what Ze gave was less a "presentation" than a consultancy to our industry that showed a new way of thinking and feeling about Web technologies.

It would have been tremendously valuable material for anyone making decisions about how to use social technologies, but In a profession such as ours that hinges so much on empathy and interpersonal rapport it was an extraordinary development.

We had approached Ze with a broad, vague request: For our industry which is notably laggard regarding all things technological, can you help people make sense of how social media might relate to their work? Also, please try to make the array of Internet choices seem less intimidating.

From an educational programming standpoint we did not know what to expect but were simply looking forward to any information that would provide our members some guidance.

Ze far exceeded our expectations. As someone with longstanding experience in educational programming almost to the point of being jaded, I can say I was personally blown away to hear an outside speaker shed so much light on our profession.

Ze's presentation was, like his body of work on the Web, alternately wise, touching and hysterical - analysis combined with great entertainment, reflecting excellent research. It was instructive, empowering and took what I think appeared to many in our group as a dizzying smorgasbord of technologies and served it up as comfort food.

I have been involved with conference programming for over 20 years and few speakers have impressed me as much as Ze Frank in terms of the value of what he provided to our audience. I look forward to working with him more in the future.

An affiliate marketing agency:
I loved his presentation and the attendees were raving about it. I was laughing for the whole time and thought it really resonated with our crowd.

A marketing strategy magazine:
He was awesome. Everyone fell in love with him. Had so much positive feedback on the day.

A Fortune 100 technology company:
Excellent, excellent excellent. Bravo!

A Youth Marketing Conference:
SO good. Ze was perfect for the event, of course.

An association for electronic media professionals:
Ze was fantastic – he checked in with us on his arrival – we met and he really worked hard to understand the audience and what we wanted – he then amended his presentation. He was excellent and the audience laughed a lot, they loved him. We are very very happy.

A global marketing communications firm:
Dear Ze — You were a triumph yesterday. I can't even tell you how many people told me they loved your "presentation".

Since I've lived with a performer/humorist/writer for 25 years, I know how different your work was yesterday from some of the more typical approaches (all due respect to them too). And how many more risks you take.

The audience really, really responded to your unique take on digital life and human behavior....and it is clear to me that they appreciated the thoughtfullness that goes into what you say and do (and dance!).

Thanks a million for making us look so good.