Power of ad agency’s name boosts business, careers

What’s in a name? A lot, if you’re the Crispin Porter + Bogusky LLC advertising agency, which has an office in Boulder.

CP+B is the agency that did the 30-second Grey Poupon teaser ad for the 2013 Academy Awards, a zany remake of the original Grey Poupon mustard ad in which a man in one car asks a man in another car, “Pardon me. Would you have any Grey Poupon?”

The new TV ad directed viewers to a website where they could watch a “behind-the-scenes” video and enter a contest, said Andrew Keller, chief executive of the agency, who is based in the Boulder office.

Such is the work of the 800-or-so-person-strong global agency, which made its name with viral advertising campaigns including the “Subservient Chicken” and “Whopper Sacrifice” ads from the agency’s Burger King campaign, as well as the ItsTheTruth.com anti-smoking campaign.

When Crispin Porter opened an office in Gunbarrel in 2006, the company brought along a wealth of talented employees. The ad agency is owned by MDC Partners Inc. in New York (Nasdaq: MDCA).

As it happens in many industries, ambitious employees often move on.

In Crispin Porter + Bogusky’s case, those “move-ons” have become a separate force to be reckoned with in the Boulder region in recent years.

Such evolution and growth is good for everyone, Keller said. CP+B is so diversified with offices in Miami, Santa Monica, California, London and Sweden, that Keller said he couldn’t imagine that any new spinoff companies could have a financial impact on business.

“I think it’s good for Boulder, frankly,” Keller said. “It’s good news if more places attract more creative people and more clients to Boulder.”

When an agency such as CP+B is named “Agency of the Decade” by Advertising Age, an industry journal, it also gives a certain cachet that carries over to the people who leave, Keller said.

“A lot of people look at us as a place that not only attracts great talent, but trains great talent,” Keller said. “We accept that, too. It’s part of us maturing as an agency.”

So, what’s in a name? A lot, if you’re Alex Bogusky.

Bogusky left the ad agency that bears his name to start Common in Boulder with three other people, including his wife Ana, in January 2011. The social-entrepreneur firm bills itself online as “part creative community” and “part collaborative brand.” Ana is another CP+B alumni.

When asked about the CP+B connection, Bogusky was sanguine. He was laid-back about his departure and its importance, saying he is “semi-retired” these days.

CP+B has seen spinoffs for years, Bogusky said, leading to new ad agencies to be reckoned with in Los Angeles, New York and Philadelphia.

“Crispin is a really famous place, so people really trade on that, but it only works for a certain amount of time,” Bogusky said.

Regardless, Common, www.common.is, has become a powerful force in the social entrepreneur community, charging a base price of $250,000 to put on “maniacal business attack,” or MBA, events, where 10 to 15 people come into a company for four days to work on issues that client companies want to change. Clients have included the Wolfsonian Museum in Miami Beach, Florida.

“We’re able to do a really intense few days and hopefully change the trajectory and help out some folks,” Bogusky said of the MBA events.

Bogusky and his wife also started the “Fearless Cottage” in Boulder, which they say is a place where they and their cohorts can work on “a consumer revolution,” according to their website, www.fearlessrevolution.com.

Bogusky also is an investor in Made, a company founded by three Crispin Porter + Bogusky alums. The Boulder advertising company focuses on “Made in America” products, and has grown to 36 people in less than a year.

Its “Made Movement” online retail store took off with a collaboration with Esquire magazine, www.mademovement.com, to sell products for the 2012 holiday season.

What’s in a name? A lot, if you’re Dave Schiff, one of Made’s three founders.

Schiff, Scott Prindle and John Kieselhorst started off with their computers plugged into a power strip they took to an Amante coffee shop in Boulder, Schiff said. The trio now has an office and has recruited other former Crispin Porter employees, some of whom have been willing to take new jobs for less money because they “believe in what they’re doing,” Schiff said.

“We have managed to attract the best people in the industry. There’s a zealous approach that you can’t really put a price on,” Schiff said.

What’s in a name? John Winsor and Evan Fry, both formerly of Crispin Porter + Bogusky, opened Victors & Spoils in 2009 in Boulder, which they bill as a creative agency built around crowdsourcing. Claudia Batten, the third co-founder, also co-founded the gaming ad network Massive. Crowdsourcing is the practice of using the power of the Internet to get people together to work on any particular project.

The Paris-based Havas agency bought a majority stake in Victors & Spoils in April, while the three founders continue to own a minority stake in the shop.

What’s in a name? A lot, if you’re Steve Babcock, formerly at CP+B, who will head the new Boulder office of Evolution Bureau, a San Francisco-based firm that bills itself as a digital marketing agency. Babcock will be joined by David Gonsalves and Rich Ford, each of whom also worked at CP+B for at least three years.

Evolution Bureau’s clients include Juicy Fruit, Skittles, Zynga, Absolut, Jameson and Facebook.

What’s in a name? A lot, if you’re Jeff Graham, who helped start the Grenadier LLC ad agency in Boulder this year. It’s a division of Barkley, a Kansas City ad firm with 250 employees.

It’s exciting to see Boulder become a destination market for ad agencies looking to relocate or open a new office, Graham said.

“It’s one of the kinds of places where a whole bunch of great ad agencies aren’t necessarily supposed to happen,” Graham said.

As a boutique ad firm focused on “challenger brands” that aren’t established yet, Grenadier is working on a campaign for Fruit20, a flavored bottled water product from the Sunny Delight beverage company, among others, Graham said. Employee experience at Crispin and other heavyweight ad agencies around the nation has helped give the fledgling firm legitimacy, he said.

Existing Boulder advertising agencies such as TDA Advertising & Design were happy to see Boulder’s reputation go up in the advertising world with the arrival of Crispin Porter + Bogusky’s office here, said Thomas Dooley, chief executive and founder.

TDA clients include brands such as French’s Mustard, Noodles and Co. in Broomfield, General Mills and its own Sir Richards Condom Co.

“We’re very grateful to Mr. Bogusky for dropping his great big shop into Gunbarrel,” Dooley said by email.

A few other former Crispin Porter + Bogusky alumni who started new companies:

Trina Arnett started Trinalytics LLC, www.trina-lytics.com. Dave Nadeau started Rhymes With Pixel LLC, a digital artist shop, www.rhymeswithpixel.com. Shaz Sedighzadeh started The Supply LLC, an online agency technology recruiter, www.thesupply.com.

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