Crispin-Porter + Bogusky: How to Build a Better Agency

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With a long list of clients including mega brands like Burger King, Coca Cola and Netflix, advertising agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky (CP+B) must be doing something right. To shed light on what continues to make CP+B successful in an era of constant change, Danielle Aldrich, CP+B president, spoke with Alex Bogusky, CP+B co-founder and chief creative engineer, who was beamed live through a bionic mannequin for the discussion.

When first asked about what CP+B does so well, Bogusky described how many agency cultures have become homogenized over the past few years. For clients to want to work with an agency, they must be able to clearly see what makes an agency’s culture and methods unique. At CP+B, Bogusky said being exceptional has always been deeply embedded into the agency’s core values and goals.

Having established this key piece of advice, Aldrich narrowed the conversation’s focus to specific concepts CP+B uses in its daily operations. This began with an examination of why CP+B refers to their offices as factories. Bogusky said the reason lies in their commitment to only create products rich in value.

“Anything that doesn’t actually get out there, get made, we put zero value on it and that’s what it’s about for us to think of ourselves as a factory. We make products,” Bogusky said.

Bogusky’s idea of a “maker-culture” can be of real use to agencies that tend to put too much emphasis on discussions and procedures. While these elements should not be ignored entirely, Bogusky said viewing a successful meeting as the sign of a job well done can hinder progress in actual areas of agency production. What’s more, he believes that agencies should never think that they are done learning and growing.

“If you decide you’re a thing, you essentially stop growing,” Bogusky said. “[Advertising] is changing every day all the time, and so we want really high impact clients who are looking to do new things, we want high impact people who are looking to do new things.”

But CP+B’s innovative perspectives don’t stop there, as the agency also uses an interesting concept to work with budgets. Because they are often a source of stress and extreme fixation in the advertising world, budgets must be viewed using what Bogusky referred to as “budget relativity.” That is, sometimes advertising professionals need to remind themselves of just how much money they actually have at their disposal.

According to Bogusky, one of the best ways to adopt this outlook is to acknowledge the budget at the start of a project and immediately move on with the actual product creation. By avoiding constant discussions about budgets, agencies will likely approach their work with greater positivity and less frustration.

Overall, when considering CP+B’s overwhelming success, perhaps the most vital advice Bogusky gave was to develop exclusive agency values. If these values are then used to drive product planning, there’s no telling how far an agency will go.

“One of the most powerful levers for us to pull is to be unique. That uniqueness first shows up in [agency] DNA, but then each of those attributes also creates strategy,” Bogusky said.

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