Love or hate their work. It’s all good for Crispin Porter & Bogusky.
December 12, 2008
No other agency in recent memory has gotten more publicity good, bad or otherwise than Crispin Porter & Bogusky. For about a decade they’ve been changing the game for the rest of us. Their early work on “truth” was groundbreaking and devastating. Subservient Chicken is almost like a God. Frankly, since hitting their stride, CP&B hasn’t really faltered –not if you define success by their criteria.
What, you say? Hasn’t really faltered! Their Burger King is a creepy monster. Those VW crash spots made me cringe. And Whopper Virgins are an insult to society. All of that is arguably true. But it is also why CP&B is so successful. Their mission (to make their clients famous) has been accomplished. And it has been accomplished in spades. Even this blog is a support point for them as an agency. Haters are just more clicks. More proof of an idea’s power.
Crispin looks for work that will create buzz, urgency, relevance and drama. They are willing to tip over bunches of sacred cows to get it. And, for better or worse, most of the rest of us are not. Myself included.
In my last post I called Whopper Virgins ingenious. I also wondered if it was the right thing to do. I still wonder. And yet, either way, CP&B is smiling. The more I wonder the more buzz they are getting. If 1,000 people read this post and then three other bloggers write about it and in turn their readers comment….You see where I’m going, where it’s going. Crispin has delivered thousands of impressions for its client. And they are the most relevant and radioactive impressions in the market place: young, urban & digital. But I said “arguably” because none of this might sell any hamburgers.
In many respects, so what? That is not the promise CP&B made to BK, or, I’m guessing to any of its clients. I’m speculating (based on their creds and communications), the agency only spoke about making BK relevant and cooler to certain populations and that the rest would take care of itself.
Do I agree with this philosophy? Not always. But I am impressed by it…and the agency. They are maddeningly consistent. They always delight or piss everyone off. One of the two. Sometimes both. They are seldom, if ever, middle-of-the-road.
And here’s another great, big point. Considering all the criticism and praise, have you ever noticed it’s always about the work and never about the agency? I happen to know CP&B is a sweatshop. People are paid less and expected to work more. But you never read about that. Draft FCB is in the press a lot. But for them, sadly, the criticism is mostly about the agency and rarely the work. Big difference.
People who know me know I would never kiss anyone’s ass, especially a competitor. And I’m not doing so here. CP&B is playing with fire. Clients can and will get burned by them. I also would add, unlike a LOT of creative directors, I do not think it’s important to try and “be” Crispin. I’d rather try and “beat” Crispin. Big difference there, too.