Crispin Gets Fat on BK Chicken

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CHICAGO ( -- If you're forking over $64.99 for a limited-edition vinyl figurine of cult character Subservient Chicken, you might think you're lining the pockets of Burger King. But in actuality, most of that chicken scratch is being scattered around Crispin Porter & Bogusky.

In the latest twist in how the Miami shop is redefining agency compensation, Crispin licensed the character it created for its client and bankrolled the project as a means to keep the Burger King bird relevant.

Agency project
Designed by street artist and toy designer Tristan Eaton, the agency hatched 1,800 Subservient Chicken figurines and an additional 250 units of a Spicy version. The dolls are being sold by SBK Global, the same group that produced the Volkswagen Fast figure -- hotly traded on eBay -- that was created as part of Crispin's 2006 Cannes Grand Prix-winning sales promotion campaign for the automaker.

A Burger King spokeswoman referred calls to the agency when asked about the dolls, saying it was the agency's project.

Why the marketer didn't want to fund the project is unclear. "If a client doesn't have the money or doesn't want to do it, we can invest our own skin in the game," said Rob Reilly, VP-creative director at Crispin.

Not just the money
The payoff, he said, isn't just about money. "The whole model is the more you become invested, the stakes are high, and it forces you to do your best work."

Crispin hasn't actively promoted the figurines so far, but includes a link to purchase the regular chicken from its viral site. The spicy figure is harder to find. "Superfans like to discover things," said Mr. Reilly.
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