Crispin, Porter +Bogusky: Creative Genius?


I love the Burger King ads that have the big plastic king head in them. They are usually so ridiculous they are funny. And big plastic heads are always funny, even when they try to be serious.

The ads were done by Crispin, Porter + Bogusky, and now Businessweek has a look at the "Craziest Ad Guys In America".

Everything Crispin does for a client is with an eye toward gaining media attention for the brand, which is why it insists that clients break down corporate silos separating advertising, public relations, and other units. The agency turns away clients that don't give it access to every part of a company, says Hicks. The 40-year-old ad man came to Crispin in 1995 from Chicago giant Leo Burnett Worldwide, where he worked on the Kellogg Co. (K ) account. He was recruited by Chairman Chuck Porter, now 60. (Agency founder Sam Crispin left the business in 1993.) By the time Porter arrived at CP+B in 1988, he had already set a policy to punt clients that treated the agency as an ad servant rather than as a partner. Hicks, the "suit" who oversees day-to-day business, rarely wears one and doesn't even don a necktie when meeting new or prospective clients.

Few traditional boundaries between client and agency are observed at Crispin. In its first meeting with Burger King in 2004, recalls the chain's chief marketing officer, Russ Klein, the partners pitched a plan for turning the packaging and tray liners into ad vehicles and changing the doors and parking lot signs before they ever pitched an ad idea. They even rewrote an employee handbook on their own initiative. At MINI, and now VW, the agency has been creating a line of original gear for owners. For Molson, it got the brewer to spend $1 million retooling its bottling plant to put labels on the backs of bottles for Crispin to use as an ad canvas with funny pickup lines. "Cups, beer labels, door handles are all places to make a worthwhile brand statement, not necessarily an ad," says Jim Poh, Crispin's director of creative content distribution.

The story focuses on CPB's attempts to revive Volkswagen, but I found the descriptions of the company's corporate culture to be the most interesting.

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