Crispin Porter & Bogusky (US)

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Crispin Porter & Bogusky established a reputation during the 2000s as one of the hottest creative agencies in the US, with a special talent for developing memorable, often brash, occasionally bizarre ideas. The agency 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. The agency steadily expanded its footprint, with additional outposts in the US as well as subsidiaries in Europe. However its Canadian office was split off again in 2012 because of client conflicts. It remains one of the industry's most admired shops, although the cult-like devotion it originally inspired among staff and its many fans has steadily faded since 2010. It is still perhaps the best-known subsidiary of marketing services group MDC Partners but faces a growing challenge for supremacy there from stablemates 72andSunny and Anomaly.

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MDC Partners

Recent stories from Adbrands Weekly Update:

Adbrands Weekly Update 11th Oct 2018: Crispin Porter & Bogusky announced the closure of its second US office in Los Angeles, with all operations in North America now consolidated in the main HQ in Boulder, Colorado. CP&B's original base in Miami was shuttered earlier this year.

Adbrands Weekly Update 9th Aug 2018: In a surprise development, admired creative guru Alex Bogusky is returning to Crispin Porter & Bogusky after eight years working mainly outside the advertising industry. He will adopt the title of co-founder & chief creative engineer, working alongside CEO Erik Sollenberg and chairman Chuck Porter. CP&B's incumbent chief creative officer Linus Karlsson will depart the agency after only nine months in his role. "This is a decisive moment for the future of the advertising industry," said Bogusky. "The needs of brands have changed, and it's high time to reexamine the best creative approach to meet those needs. My time away from advertising was largely spent advising and investing in tech startups and I learned about the processes that drive those successes. I think advertising agencies can benefit from the lean and agile practices that have revolutionized so many other industries."

Adbrands Social Media 16th Jul 2018: No doubts about exactly who Nissan's Infiniti luxury brand considers to be its competition. Crispin Porter & Bogusky's latest campaign starts like a traditionally dull race track car ad and then gradually develops a nice little line in self-deprecating humour. The agency even finds a cute way of demonstrating all the car's luxury features while pretending to disparage them. Needless to say, the Infiniti ends up on top by the end, even if Konrad the Test Expert hates that fact. 

Adbrands Weekly Update 5th July 2018: Former Crispin Porter & Bogusky chief creative officer Ralph Watson filed a lawsuit against that agency, its holding company MDC Partners and multiple individuals employed by those two companies on multiple charges including wrongful termination of employment, discrimination, defamation and civil conspiracy. Watson already has a suit in progress against anonymous Instagram account Diet Madison Avenue, which accused him, as well as several other executives at different agencies, of sexual harassment. Virtually all of the men named were dropped by their agencies despite little apparent evidence to back up Diet Madison Ave's allegations. Watson says in the suit that he was wrongfully terminated by MDC despite being an "exemplary performer during his entire tenure with the agency... as a direct result of Diet Madison Avenue's false statements, pressure and interference." MDC and CP&B said they stand by their original decision to terminate Watson and vowed "to vigorously defend themselves and their employees" from the lawsuit.

Adbrands Social Media 24th May 2018: "110 Years". Cute animation in the latest spot from Crispin Porter Bogusky Brazil for Johnnie Walker. This must be one of the few brands left that can still today make its original mascot, the celebrated Striding Man, the core of its advertising without seeming hokey or lame. That's an immense benefit since there are so few other ways you can advertise alcoholic spirits without falling foul of the regulators. We winced slightly at some of the decade-themed musical cues but the overall effect is very nice. 

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Background

Free to all users | see full profile for current activities: Although it feels like a hot new agency, CPB actually celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2015. It was founded by Sam Crispin in 1965 when he bought out the Miami office of what was then Arthur Mogge Advertising. He renamed it Samuel B Crispin & Associates. He was later joined in the business by son Charles, and they recruited copywriter Chuck Porter in 1987. Renamed Crispin & Porter, the agency continued to handle mainly regional accounts in Florida. Sam Crispin retired in 1990 (and died in 2015 at the age of 90); Charles Crispin left in 1993 (to join the insurance industry). In their place, Chuck Porter made rising talent Alex Bogusky a partner in 1997, and the agency's name changed again to Crispin Porter & Bogusky.

Fed by Bogusky's irreverent and often controversial ideas, the shop steadily picked up speed. A key development was a high profile but low-earning brief to handle the state of Florida's anti-smoking account. One of the ensuing ads featured cigarette industry leaders testifying earnestly before Congress accompanied by a laugh track. Another depicted a fake awards show set in Hell, in which awards such as Greatest Number of Deaths in a Single Year were handed out to former tobacco executives. This campaign won CPB its first national account, from newly formed anti-smoking body American Legacy. A series of hard-hitting, bitterly ironic ads followed, based around the tag line "what if tobacco ads told the truth?”, using body bags as stand-ins for the people usually depicted in tobacco ads.

In 2001, the agency sold a 49% stake to marketing services group MDC Partners to fund further growth. (That holding increased to 77% in 2007, and then to full ownership in 2009). Just days later the shop was rewarded with the brief to launch Mini cars in the US. CPB did wonders with a comparatively limited budget. Other major accounts have followed, although the agency has maintained a balance between national and local business. Among the few missteps was the launch of a California office in 2001 (closed in 2003). If there is a threat to CPB's current hit run, it is that attention-grabbing ads do not always translate into bottom line profit for clients. Molson and Ikea, for example, two important clients in the early 2000s, both moved on despite strong creative work.

However, the shop also gained a reputation for having a special talent for reaching the elusive young adult market. The Burger King account in particular grabbed attention with a number of wholly out-of-the-ordinary and often bizarre ideas. Amongst these was Subservient Chicken, a website which illustrates BK's "Have It Your Way" offer by allowing users to issue random instructions of their own choosing to a guy dressed in a chicken suit. That and other ads earned CPB numerous accolades in 2003 and 2004. In 2005, the group scored its most prestigious account to-date when it won German motoring giant Volkswagen in North America. (The agency resigned Mini to avoid conflicts).

An even bigger project walked through the door in 2008, when CPB was handed a $300m global assignment for Microsoft, although the first ads from the brief, featuring Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld, were widely panned. The "I'm a PC" campaign proved more bearable, but didn't come close to matching the power of Apple's "PC vs Mac" ads. Even so, CP&B gradually expanded its dominance of Microsoft's agency roster to become the software giant's favoured marketing partner until 2014. See full profile for current activities


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