After changing our business forever, Alex Bogusky resigns from Crispin Porter & Bogusky.

July 12, 2010

Alex Bogusky: “That’s all folks!”

For the better part of our new century, one “ad” agency has dominated the media landscape, transcending advertising and changing marketing forever. This same agency not only managed to thrive during economic turmoil but continuously spat in the face of industry naysayers and doom and gloom mongers, all the while making game changing, firestorm igniting, award winning, fame inducing, I-wish-I’d-done-that, kind of work.

Of course I’m talking about Crispin Porter & Bogusky. I once called them the Doyle Dane Bernbach of our time. A huge compliment, I know. Yet, I agree with the comparison now more than ever. CP&B has done to our business (and popular culture) exactly the same thing DDB did almost fifty years ago: Changed it. 4EVR.

Crispin’s version of Bill Bernbach? Alex Bogusky. And now, at the relatively young age of 47, Bogusky is resigning from the agency that bears his name, presumably to write books, ride bikes, stop the BP oil leak, and then some. Having received considerable earn out from MDC’s purchase of the agency, Alex can do whatever the hell he wants. Apparently, that includes bidding adieu (at least temporarily) to Ad Land.

For those living in a trailer down by the river, Alex Bogusky has been the agency’s creative leader since its inauspicious beginning some 25 years ago in Miami. His creative philosophy likely began the same way yours and mine did, to do persuasive communication that is smart, beautiful and entertaining. But it rapidly evolved into something unique and, at times polarizing. Pre-supposing social media and all that it entails, Alex wanted a Fame Factory for his clients, an agency that created conversations not just ads. It’s motto: “Don’t show me a script, show me the press release.”

CP&B’s anti-smoking “Truth” campaigns put the agency on the map. Launching the Mini-Cooper in America didn’t hurt. Then Burger King, Ikea, VW and more. CP&B was off to the races and just as quickly “off the chain.” Like it or not, no other agency generates heat –for their clients and for themselves- like Crispin Porter & Bogusky.

And so his resignation has caused a furor. Fast Company printed this story, painting a snarky picture, especially as it related to MDC Chairman & CEO, Miles Nadal. The piece made Alex out to be an “existential, rock star” (cool!) and Miles some sort of jilted “life partner.”

On their own blogs, Nadal and Bogusky quickly came out in refutation of the Fast Company story. Their passionate yet professional replies likely tell a far more truthful rendition of the story than the one posited by Fast Company. I’ve posted them here:

Alex\'s blog reply

Miles\' blog reply

Yet, these are more refutations than explanations…

Why did Alex Bogusky resign? I’m not a journalist and I’m not looking for angles. But I am deeply curious. Here’s a man at the top of his game, doing a job most of us can only dream of doing, and he just walks away. Why? I’m certain it wasn’t a business decision. Far from it. Next post, I’ll share comments made by one of his partners and bits from a conversation I had with him as well. Who knows; maybe resigning was a hoax. Just more hoopla. And I mean that in a good way.

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13 Responses to “After changing our business forever, Alex Bogusky resigns from Crispin Porter & Bogusky.”

  1. Jason Fox said

    I’ll go ahead and take a stab before you post your alluded-to conversation. My guess is that, like many of in advertising, our passion is being creative. We may like advertising, even love it at times. But we always, always, always love being creative. So if you can afford to be creative without the headaches that accompany the ad game, why the heck not? He certainly doesn’t need to make a bigger name for himself in this industry.

  2. Jeff said

    He’ll be back. It’s impossible for someone whose lifeblood flowed for so long and in such a significant way throughout an industry to just walk away. He’ll have some nomadic wanderings for a while, wax philosophical, ride some bikes, then ultimately come back (possibly start his own company) when he comes to the self-realization it’s not just is lifework, but also the medium through which he can make the most profound statement to the world… but that’s just my opinion.

  3. SRP said

    On the subject of Alex & miles, here’s a vid of them together on Fearless:

    PS: Real people in background…or extras 😉

  4. jim schmidt said

    I don’t understand why more people don’t do what he’s done. You have one life–doesn’t it make sense to try different things? I’ve never understood the lifers who hang around even after they’ve made enough money to try something else.

    • SRP said

      Now that you mention it, how come you don’t try something else? Is it the need for serious income (young, big family) or do you love your job? For me, happily, it’s both.

  5. dave ross said

    steffen, didn’t mean to scare you 😉

    if you read alex’s last half dozen or so posts a little more carefully i think you may come to the conclusion i have (right or wrong), that
    1. he wants to change/save the world
    2. he got another large payout so now he can afford to save it full time (and perhaps even earn a living doing it)
    3. he’s grown tired of clients trying to control/stifle his POV. (

    The last one leads me to the questions of…how much do our public expressions as part of our personal lives have to adjust because we’re in this business, and…where do we draw the line?

  6. jim schmidt said

    It’s both for me as well. I’ve got 4 kids and I do enjoy writing for clients who I have a lot of respect for. But I don’t enjoy the ad biz part of it at all. Too much posturing etc.

  7. Van Gould said

    Steffan, I can’t figure out why people misspell your name so much on here. Anyway, I’m interested to see what happens with Bogusky. Do you think he could become the Favre of advertising?

    • SRP said

      I actually do not think Alex will just come back as an ad mogul/aging creative hero. (That job is already taken 😉
      But creative people gotta create so we’ll here from him again. My next post has some pretty revealing stuff in it so come on back…

  8. jim schmidt said

    clearly part of his angst was doing ads directed at kids for products that are bad for kids. that’s a tough one for any parent to deal with.

  9. Dawn Dingman said

    I love that a well respected ad person with a wad of cash might spend their time speaking out against advertising to children.
    I’d rather work on ads for Blackwater then ads for children.
    Go Alex!

  10. SRP said

    The perfect narcissist or searching monk? Latest article on Alex in Fast Company is something else:
    And Alex responds on his blog:

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