Crispin Porter & Bogusky established a reputation during the 2000s as one of the hottest creative agencies in the US, or indeed anywhere for that matter, with a special talent for developing memorable, often brash, occasionally bizarre ideas. At its peak in 2008, CP&B was named Agency of the Year by all three of the leading trade magazines for the US ad industry; and then Agency of the Decade by Ad Age. Accolades like that, more often than not, presage disaster, and life has been much more challenging since then, and especially since 2015. CP&B first made its name with a string of startling and original ads for Burger King, and these proved a springboard to attract a set of even more prestigious clients. Yet even then the agency faced criticism that its creative output valued short-term impact above long-term effectiveness on behalf of its clients. The shop steadily expanded its global footprint, with additional outposts in the US as well as subsidiaries in Europe. However, the red hot reputation CP&B once enjoyed began to fade even before the departure of co-founder and creative leader Alex Bogusky in 2010. The cult-like devotion the agency originally inspired among staff and its many fans has steadily faded, despite the subsequent return to the fold of Alex Bogusky in 2018 with the title of chief creative engineer. (That stint lasted two years; he departed once more in 2020). Symptomatic of that general contraction was the decision to shutter the agency's original Miami office in 2018 as well as a third office in Los Angeles. All North American operations were consolidated in Boulder, Colorado; but there are plans to relocate in 2021 to the city of Denver. There are also outposts in Brazil and the UK, but a Danish outpost was quietly shuttered in 2020. CPB is still perhaps the best-known subsidiary of marketing services group MDC Partners but it faces a growing challenge for supremacy there from stablemates 72andSunny and Anomaly, both of whom have overtaken CPB in both billings and, arguably, prestige. AdAge estimated revenues of $105m in 2019. Erik Sollenberg, previously head of Swedish agency Forsman & Bodenfors, also a unit of MDC, became CEO in 2017, but his tenure has been marked by a gradual downsizing of the business including most recently the loss of two major clients: Domino's in 2020 followed by Infiniti the following year. Sollenberg's departure was announced in 2021; his successor is Marianne Malina. However, the defection of key clients has continued.
Capsule checked 7th July 2021
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Historical profile information for CPB Group
Marketer Moves 27th Sep 2021: Multiple departures from CP&B including chief creative officer. See Marketer Moves (members only).
Adbrands Daily Update 20th May 2021: "Half An Ad". While its embattled parent agency in the US undergoes a full management reset, Crispin Porter & Bogusky's London office continues to stay in the game with the help of main client Pernod Ricard. And is repaying that client loyalty with consistently strong creative work. Here's the latest, a witty and highly inventive campaign for a light version of Ballantine's whisky. It contains half the alcohol of the main product, so the agency made only half an ad, three times over. The visual gags are funny and surprising, the last one especially so. Another example of spirits advertising that truly breaks out of the usual mould.
Marketer Moves 14th April 2021: New CEO at CPB Group. See Marketer Moves (members only).
Adbrands Daily Update 2nd Dec 2020: "Against The Tide". We haven't heard much from Crispin Porter & Bogusky's London outpost for the past year, but they've surfaced once more in time for Christmas with a dramatic new campaign for Pernod-Ricard's The Glenlivet whisky. The new film isn't perhaps as powerful as last year's time-travelling epic, but you have to admire the boldness of the concept. That conveyor belt treadmill is astonishing. You might imagine it was constructed inside a computer rather than in the real world, but in fact it was actually constructed for real (albeit with a little digital polish around the edges). A little less of the gloomy lighting and a more dynamic voice over might have elevated the mood, but like last year's, it's still better than most of the other spirits ads in current circulation.
Adbrands Daily Update 2nd Nov 2020: In a crushing blow to both Crispin Porter & Bogusky and its parent company MDC Partners, the former's most high profile client has pulled its account after 13 years. Pizza chain Domino's is to transfer its business to Work In Progress, an independent shop launched four years ago by six former CPB executives, several of whom had previously worked on the Domino's account. The killer blow is that the move was prompted not by the quality of CPB's creative but its position within a holding company. "I really feel that the independent agency model gives us more flexibility and less distractions," Domino's CMO Art D'Elia told AdAge. Coincidentally, Work In Progress is also the agency for another specialist fast-food delivery service, Jimmy John's.
Adbrands Daily Update 5th Nov 2019: "Original By Tradition". It's about time we heard more from Crispin Porter & Bogusky, which has kept an uncharacteristically low profile of late. Its London office comes crashing back - literally so - with a splendid film for Pernod-Ricard's The Glenlivet, which makes excellent use of complex sets and clever CGI to recount the evolution of one of the world's finest whiskies. The brand might be all about tradition, but that doesn't mean you need to follow the same traditions to drink it. Scotch ads can often be a little dull, but this one is quite the opposite.
Adbrands Weekly Update 25th Oct 2018: Crispin Porter & Bogusky is the latest agency to push back against the rising cost and workload involved in awards shows. In a joky but genuine statement announcing a fake awards scheme, The Grand Quitty, newly returned creative chairman Alex Bogusky said the agency would no longer submit entries to any awards schemes. "Is it a coincidence that awards and award shows have expanded at the same time that ad industry revenues have contracted? Maybe. But it's certainly a sign we're not focused on the right things."
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