Less than 18 months after CPB announced that Alex Bogusky was returning to the agency, the co-founder will once again be leaving the building.
CPB Partner and Chairman Chuck Porter says Bogusky made the decision to depart, citing the desire to reprioritize and focus more on family. “We spent 80 hours talking about it over a month,” Porter says. “It wasn’t an easy decision because there were a lot of things he liked, but he thought it wasn’t really fair for the agency if he wanted to reorder his life and not step away.”
Bogusky, says Porter, will not leave immediately but will transition out over the next few months.
In August 2018, eight years after the storied creative departed the MDC agency, CPB surprised the industry by announcing that it was bringing Bogusky back as co-founder and giving him the newly minted title of chief creative engineer. But the homecoming didn't turn out as many had anticipated.
Bogusky, one of the few larger-than-life creative directors left in the industry, was known for breaking new creative ground for clients like Mini and Burger King. (Famously, he instructed his staffers to think of the press release and the story a campaign would generate before the media itself—an approach that's now become standard practice in the industry.)
Expectations ran high with his return, since Bogusky stepped back in just as the agency was in reset. Earlier that year, CPB closed its flagship Miami office and two month after Bogusky rejoined, the shop shuttered its Los Angeles outpost. The return, coming at a time when agencies have been struggling to reinvent themselves in the face of shifting client needs and increasing competition from consultants, was heralded as something of a second coming.
In an interview with Ad Age, Bogusky said he intended to remain close to the creative because “it’s the quickest way to have a positive impact,” he said, and “if I don’t jump in on the work and with the teams, I won’t have a real sense of how to improve the process.”
But since then, there has been a dearth of bold, game-changing ideas at the shop. The agency produced some entertaining work, but arguably nothing more notable than what it had been delivering already. There was a co-branded campaign for Hotels.com and Poo-pourri to steer couples through their “first poo with Boo,” while another for Fruit of the Loom saw the brand creating a limited-edition tee, with fan and NFL star Alvin Kamara. Since he signed on, the agency took on global creative duties for Scotch whisky brand Ballantines and also added fast casual chain Noodles & Co. and North American construction company Sunbelt Rentals.
Outside of the work, the agency’s moves in the months after Bogusky’s return seemed like jargony press release fodder. There was the shop’s rebranding from CP&B to CPB, along with the introduction of a “leaner” and more “agile” creative process the agency branded as Gut+ and “Crisp Jam,” a product offering dedicated to project-based work promising to “get to big ideas fast.” Bogusky seemed to spend much of his time on a podcast, "The Woodshed," about "demystifying the creative process."
There were also a number of head-scratching stunts. In October of 2018, the agency and Bogusky announced “The Quitty Awards,” declaring the shop was dropping out of the awards circuit and encouraging other agencies to do so too.