Why the Ad Industry Needs Alex Bogusky

He Respected the Consumer and Loved the Work

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Bart Cleveland
Bart Cleveland
I was saddened when I read that Alex Bogusky was leaving our industry. Saddened for us in advertising, particularly. The industry is not in good shape and losing the person that has been the most influential to our improvement over the last decade hurts us in ways I don't like to think about. Alex not only revolutionized us, he made us enjoy the trip.

I've known Alex since the mid-'90s when Crispin Porter & Bogusky was an agency of 35 people. Every time we crossed paths, I left the encounter with my dreams rejuvenated. Alex has the kind of infectious energy and enthusiasm that makes you believe you can do anything. His agency certainly demonstrated such a belief on a daily basis.

So I am sad because he is the shot of adrenaline our industry needs now more than ever. I take nothing away from his partners and co-workers when I say that few have done what Alex did. He would be the first to state that he couldn't have become what he did without them. Yet, I can think of no one who caused revolutionary change in our industry the way he did. He didn't threaten to jump out of a window to sell work. He walked his clients to the window and showed them what lay over the horizon. He made them believe there was something better for their customers. Something real.

Alex not only conquered our industry, he dramatically changed they way we do things. And more importantly, the way we think. He did so by paying attention to people who buy things rather than our industry's rules.

I guess it comes as no surprise that Alex is moving on, but it disappoints me because I'm not sure we'll see someone like him again for a long time. The last time we talked, he came down to speak to The New Mexico Ad Fed. He spoke to a packed house and by the end of his talk he had us all believing we could conquer the world. In my mind, this is classic Alex Bogusky. He was leading an industry, but he took the time to visit one of its more remote segments because he knew there were people here that shared his passion.

Another reason I believe we need Alex is in the 15 years I've known him he hasn't changed. The first time I met him he was giving a talk to the Creative Club of Atlanta. Afterward, he had some time on his hands before his flight home. I asked if he wanted to come by and visit my little 10-person agency. Not only did he do so, he sat around and worked on a job with us. He was one of us then and every time I've crossed paths with him since, he's the same guy. He always treated me like an equal when I knew better.

So, why am I writing this? Because the next Alex Bogusky is out there and I hope he or she steps up. Alex told me he never planned for Crispin to become what it became. They just did what they thought was right with all of their might and it happened. So who will be the next Alex? You may be and don't even know it. Perhaps if we all step forward and try to start this industry's next revolution, there will end up being more than one. Wouldn't that be nice?

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