I swear it was because of the ads.
That's not the (only) reason Crispin Porter + Bogusky is our Agency of the Year. Several notable things emerged from this year's selection process. One of those things was how far ahead of everyone else CP+B seems to be in terms of really doing the doing in the innovative/media neutral sense, of being structurally and psychologically inclined to create and produce different kinds of communications. But the agency's work doesn't just amount to a tutorial in integration for its own sake. Examining CP+B's '04 output, what's apparent is how simple (in its own way), and, it seems, effective much of it is. As Alex Bogusky neatly sums up in our Q&A (see p. 28), "The creative work is just us using the tools at our disposal to solve business problems." Or, as Burger King client Russ Klein maintains, it's "not a gratuitous venture in creativity"(see Campaign of the Year, p. 32).
Aside from making the advertiser both money and cool, and vindicating CP+B after haters said the agency couldn't handle the truth of a big bad client, the success of the Burger King campaign will likely have some other happy side effects. The fact that Burger King is not Nike and that the fast food category has hardly been on the cutting edge of creative suggests to the advertising community that one doesn't always need a glamorous client in order to do interesting work. Right now, the "boring" clients, for whom agencies have long done boring commercials would seem to be ripe for new, targeted work (As new Fallon ECD Paul notes in the profile on p. 12, nobody wanted to work on Unilever's now sexy Lynx when first faced with the prospect at BBH London).
A campaign like "Subservient Chicken" could also have the effect of attracting more creative talent to interactive and other media. With every ad initiative that brings fame of this sort to creator and client, young creatives have that much more hard evidence that a huge TV spot for a beer brand isn't the only path to glory for agency and marketer (and yes, many of them still think that, according to a startling number of you out there).
Another thing that has been evident about CP+B is the degree to which Bogusky has been the defining, driving creative force, getting the utmost from every idea and dollar that comes out of the agency. It was interesting and was likely not just for the sake of a cool picture that Bogusky chose to share the cover this year with CD Andrew Keller. It'll be intriguing to see how the agency's power structure evolves as the agency grows in size and scope.
With the continued rise of CP+B, a veritable New York advertising renaissance, major new creative regimes at the big agencies, and a supposed upturn in the industry's fortunes, we are bursting with anticipation for '05.