Agency A-List: Crispin Porter & Bogusky

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2. CRISPIN PORTER & BOGUSKY
Alex Bogusky
  • Now a big hotshop
  • Media-neutral savvy
  • Domino's, BK co-exist
  • Nike comes knocking
  • Vies for Microsoft
Crispin Porter & Bogusky is no longer a medium-size, indie hotshop from Miami. Now, it's a big, MDC Partners-owned hotshop from Miami and Boulder, Colo.

Doesn't sound like a particularly earth-shattering transition, does it? Certainly, the fact that MDC Chairman-CEO Miles Nadal took advantage of terms laid down when he acquired his minority stake and purchased another 28% of the agency last year wasn't surprising given Crispin's success and probably doesn't change much about the agency on a day-to-day basis.

Alex Bogusky's agency continued to set the creative bar about as high as it gets; it was second in 2007 creative awards, according to Ad Age sibling Creativity, just behind TBWA/Chiat/Day, New York. The honors poured in even as Crispin was growing past the 600-employee mark and took on several of the kind of mass marketer that tends to ruin a shop's rep with pesky "Show the product"-type requirements.

Perhaps most importantly, Crispin's output continued to show the kind of media neutrality marketers say they're seeking.

Familial bonds
In addition, Crispin managed to grow a second location, in Boulder, into a serious office with serious revenue and a distinct culture in less than two years -- without wrecking the first office in Miami. The two are now similar in size and have shown an aptitude for cross-office cooperation that would be the envy of many agency networks with multiple locations.

By adding Domino's Pizza's creative and media planning to a roster that includes Burger King Corp., Crispin has shown client conflict can be overcome, even in the viciously competitive fast-food sector -- if you're good enough.

Last April, Nike stunned the ad world with the announcement that it would move work to Crispin from longtime agency Wieden & Kennedy. Wieden continues to handle the bulk of Nike's business, but the fact that the sports-apparel giant felt the need to seek out Crispin can certainly be considered another tick, or swoosh, on the hotshop's checklist.

Other nice-to-have additions to the roster: Best Buy Co.'s Geek Squad and American Express Co.'s small-business-service account. With its proficiency at tuning in to pop-culture trends, it's no surprise Crispin was among the shops Microsoft Corp. called upon in its quest to up its hipness quotient. Microsoft, whose agency of record is Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann Erickson, is planning a $200 million to $300 million blitz hyping consumer products, and Crispin at press time was one of two contenders.

At the same time, there were a few bumps in the road for Crispin during 2007. The agency said goodbye to its Miller Brewing Co. business, ending a troubled relationship, and rubbed consumers the wrong way with its resurrection of Orville Redenbacher in a spooky form for ConAgra Foods. That cost Crispin the business, which also included the Slim Jim account.

Importantly, Volkswagen of America is still a Crispin client, despite talk that turnover in the top VW marketing position didn't bode well for the shop's hold on the business. The VW watch doubtless will continue in 2008, and so will the carping of the creative community outside Crispin, fond of accusing the shop of being a one-trick pony.
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