insurgents in your organization

Late last week, Alex Bogusky was elevated from CD of Crispin Porter + Bogusky to “Chief Creative Insurgent” of the ad agency’s parent company MDC Partners.

Hmmm.

Since, by definition, an insurgent is a rebel who revolts against authority or acts contrary to the policies of their organization, Bogusky has his work cut out for him. He’s fighting against “The Man” while simultaneously being “The Man“. That’s tough work.

While I typically despise jargon-ish job titles that have no meaning, the big idea behind this insurgent idea is right on target.

Every organization should have an “insurgent” that provides a contrarian point-of-view for the group. There needs to be someone to stand up and challenge the “that’s the way we’ve always done it” mantra.

The trouble is that most businesses quickly get rid of…or chase off their insurgents. There’s less chaos in the organization when everyone colors inside the lines. There’s also less opportunity for new growth and the ability to react / evolve to a world and market that’s changing faster everyday.

And insurgents have a rough life. They’re usually hated by fellow members and leaders of the group.

Maybe this CP+B move is smart. Maybe having “The Man” be the insurgent is the answer. If anyone can pull it off, Bogusky can.

do as they say not as they do

Q. — As a general rule, what industry (as a whole) has the worst web sites?
A. — Ad Agencies.

I’ve noticed most agency web sites have a few common characteristics:

  • Rule #1: Flash!
  • Staff / Management Bios: Wacky, fun, and meaningless. There is a über-creative photo of the person pretending to have fun.
  • Site Navigation: Not at the top, bottom, left, or right. In order to click around to the other pages on the site, you’ll need to take a bus to another location.
  • Contact Info: Phone numbers, emails, etc hidden on the most illogical page possible.
  • Office Pictures: Two ways to go here. 1) If it’s an “agency” of one guy with a Mac in his bedroom, then you’ll see some creative use of stock photography. 2) If it’s a real “agency”, the wackiness continues with pics of the foosball table, the aquarium, and the video game area to show potential clients how their billable hours are being wasted while creativity happens.
  • Philosophy: Starts off with “We’re a new type of agency.” and the rest is filled with meaningless jargon and buzzwords.
  • I don’t think we can say it enough: Flash!
  • Portfolio: Just a few logos. Maybe a shot of an ad. The ROI is never mentioned. This link is always called “the work”
  • Blogs: All staff members seem to take turns “writing posts” by copying / summarizing chapters out of the advertising textbooks they couldn’t sell back to their college bookstore.
  • Content: It seems everyone shot down everyone else’s ideas until there was no content left
  • Timeliness: Site is never updated. (except for every few years when the whole thing is torn down and replaced with something similar.) Rinse. Repeat.

I’m sure I’ve missed a few. Your thoughts?

UPDATE: I published this just a few hours before CP+B launched their new agency site. Looks interesting. http://beta.cpbgroup.com/

sacrifice your friends for free meat

This month, it will be six years since Crispin Porter + Bogusky took over the Burger King business and started serving up quirky and viral campaigns that have been critically acclaimed by those in the ad biz. Coq Roq, Whopper Virgins, the Subservient Chicken, the resurrection of the “king” and more — it’s all from CP+B and has definitely brought the buzz to BK.

And yet — six years ago, Burger King was the #2 fast food outlet in the US. Today, Burger King is the #2 fast food outlet in the US. Advertising admired by the advertising community is not always the key to success.

But there’s part of me that actually likes the concept behind CP+B’s latest creation. It’s a Facebook application called Whopper Sacrifice. (Find the microsite at http://www.whoppersacrifice.com/)

Basically, you load the app; delete 10 of your “friends”; and BK sends you a coupon for a free Whopper. The app also lets those “friends” (please use airquotes) know they’ve been deleted for a burger to perpetuate the viral effect. It’s top notch Burger King classiness.

I think BK and CP+B have tapped into the Facebook backlash that’s simmering under the surface of the masses. Everyone has a few pieces of dead wood that they could let go.

And just in case you do actually need all your “friends” (airquotes again) or if you’re like me and just like to scam corporations doing little tricks like this — there’s already a group of people on Facebook who are willing to be your “friend” just to be sacrificed.

Obviously, there have been viral campaigns played out on Facebook before, but none aimed so directly at the Facebook experience. It will be an interesting one to watch.
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UPDATE 1/14/09: Facebook has removed BK as a friend – http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/01/14/facebook-blows-a-whopper-of-an-opportunity/

bill gates as kramer. no es bueno

I had high hopes when Crispin Porter + Bogusky took over the MSFT campaign. I expected something creative, edgy, and/or amusing. I was doubly excited when I heard Seinfeld was involved. Imagine my (and your) dissapointment with this garbage:

Questions:
Yeah. He’s 95% embedded into the brand. But didn’t Bill quit his job awhile back? Why is he here?
Shoes in the shower?
Why the Spanish subtitles?
Moist and chewy?
What’s the point?
Most importantly, the questions that ANY ad should answer and that this ad fails miserably at — What’s being sold here? and What’s the call to action?

Frankly, it’s as bad as when the local car dealer calls in his kids and does an ad just to entertain himself. I hope Jerry, Bill, and CP+B had a fun time shooting it.

Who are you marketing to?

Ah, it’s good to be the King. Or is it?

News that Burger King had a bad day on Wall Street got me thinking….What’s the relationship between marketing and Wall Street perfomance?

Crispin Porter + Bogusky have done a fabulous job with the creative side on the BK advertising. And not just the mass media ads. They have come up with some creative web memes and non-linear marketing that really has increased the TOMA for BK’s target demo.

The trouble is that there aren’t many of Burger King’s target demo working on Wall Street. “We make money the hard way…we visit Subservient Chicken” isn’t a slogan with the big brokers.

There’s a reason companies take out expensive-white-space-intense-full-page-ads in the Wall Street Journal that are full of corporate meaningless buzzwords….It’s to have TOMA with the movers and shakers on Wall Street.

“4th Quarter earnings down for InGenamon Corp, but I saw something in Tuesday’s WSJ that they’re preparing to create meaningful synergistic relationships with their core client base. I think earnings will rise for them. We’ll still recommend the buy.”

While BK’s marketing may be starting to have an effect on customers, I bet they drastically change course after this news to affect the stock. It will be a bad move in the long run.

Don’t please the stockbrokers. Please the customers. The stockbrokers will be happier in the long run.

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