In 1988, Crispin Porter & Bogusky planted its flag in Florida, opening a Miami office where the creative shop first made a name for itself. Now, nearly three decades later, it's the end of an era as the agency prepares to close the Miami operation next March.
"This is something we've been talking about for a long, long time and, ultimately, I have been convinced that it's the best thing for the agency, but it still breaks my heart," says Chairman Chuck Porter.
"With the way the industry and the economy is and the way things have evolved, it just no longer makes sense to have three offices in the U.S.," adds Porter. "It's not like we have a ton of clients in Miami and it just seemed smarter to consolidate."
While Miami was where it all began, the office is now the smallest of CP&B's locations in the U.S. with about 75 staffers, most whom work in finance and accounting. The majority of client-facing employees will relocate to either the Los Angeles or Boulder offices, as well as some in other departments. Holding company MDC Partners is also looking for other options for staffers within its network and has a program in place to help Miami employees find jobs.
CP&B Miami Executive Creative Director Tom Adams will move to CP&B L.A.
Recently, the Miami operation has worked on the likes of mobile marketplace Letgo, Brazilian aerospace manufacturer Embraer, baked goods company Bauducco and Aspen Dental. All CP&B Miami clients will move to Boulder, Los Angeles and São Paulo.
Once CP&B expanded to Boulder in 2006, five years after opening up in Los Angeles, Porter says Boulder became the U.S. hub. But this doesn't lessen the iconic nature of the Miami office, which turned out campaigns that put Crispin on the creative map.
"The agency grew up in Miami," says Porter. "I think growing up in Miami was a very big part of our personality and a formative factor for the agency."
By personality he means "challenger mindset," says Porter. "I think growing up in any second-tier market does that, and I think Miami did that more so than some others because it's way out on the corner of the country. No [client] thought of going to Miami to get advertising done unless you were a cruise line."
In the beginning, CP&B Miami worked on accounts such as Intercontinental Hotels, Pam Am Airlines and Jamaica Tourism, says Porter, and then it branched out to diverse local clients, like Bank of Miami, Miami Herald and the Miami Marlins and some niche national brands like Shimano Bikes.
But after CP&B launched the national "Truth" anti-smoking campaign in 2000 and introduced the Mini Cooper to the U.S. in 2002, Porter says "people started to notice."
One of the most head-turning campaigns from CP&B Miami came out in 2004 for Burger King. The campaign brought a whole new take to the brand's "Have It Your Way" tagline by introducing Subservient Chicken, a chicken-suited character who would do (almost) anything you asked it to. In addition to two commercials, the initiative included a website created in conjunction with Barbarian Group that allowed viewers to demand the chicken to do random things. The site earned a million hits the day after its release, and the following week, those jumped to 15 million. Ten years later, David and Code and Theory resurrected the Subservient Chicken in an "explosive" reprisal.
CP&B snagged Ad Age's Agency of the Year award in 2004 and 2008 and was crowned Agency of the Decade. It had won Creativity's Agency of the Year four times by December 2005.
Buy now it's a new dawn at CP&B, including revamped leadership. The shop named Erik Sollenberg, CEO of Swedish agency Forsman & Bodenfors, as global chief executive in August. He will share the role with current Global CEO Lori Senecal until she retires at the end of the year. In September, CP&B hired Linus Karlsson, most recently chief creative officer of Ming Utility and Entertainment Group, as its new global chief creative officer.
"My objective is to make the work better," Porter told Ad Age in September. "We're doing a lot of great work now, but I think as we've gotten bigger, we've gotten a little hierarchical. So my choice was either to go back to work or find someone who could help me do this—and that was a much more appealing proposition."