Crispin Porter + Bogusky

The new Burger King looks more like Five Guys Discuss 0

Driven Thru

Burger King bowing to Five Guys?

Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Chris Nixon via Compfight

Fast food is a tough category. While McDonalds obviously has the secret sauce to the number one spot, the actions of number two through five are like watching a three ring circus. Only one can be something for everyone, everyone else, needs to figure out how to be the anti-something for everyone and pick their niche.

Chipotle is the envy of the industry- with a ridiculously low ad budget (they actually dropped from $7.5 million in measured media in 2010 to $5.8 in 2011 according to Ad Age Mar 12, 2012, “Chipotle aims to buck fast-food convention- while it still can“) and a menu that doesn’t change much and a business model that doesn’t rely on “Sales” or price off promotions. Chipotle has a value proposition: a big portion of fresh locally sourced food, that’s made to order in front of you. Subway uses part of the same model and is the number two fast feeder: A custom made sandwich at a reasonable price.

Lately, Burger King has ditched one of the hottest agencies in the country, Crispin Porter + Bogusky, cut ties with CMO Russ Klein (who has bounced back at Arby’s) and gone back on the mission to out-McDonald’s McDonalds:

The restaurant’s menu will include a record 10 new items, among them, made-to-order smoothies and three new salads. Burger King also will increase its marketing efforts, featuring soccer player David Beckham, talk show host Jay Leno, actress Salma Hayek and singer Mary J. Blige in upcoming commercials. The chain plans to send out 40 food trucks across the country to hand out food at events and set up sampling inside some Burger King locations.

The chain is reportedly attempting to broaden its menu with healthier and more snack alternatives in an effort to appeal to mothers, families and Baby Boomers. Burger King and its franchisees will spend an estimated $750 million to revamp stores over the next 12 months.

via Burger King to Roll Out 40 Food Trucks Nationwide | Mobile Cuisine – Food Trucks, Carts & Street Eating.

Burger King built their business on the Whopper- a burger that used to be bigger and tastier than a Big Mac. The company hit pay dirt when they challenged market leader McDonalds with “Have it your way” as a way to differentiate their offering as made to order and fresh- utilizing “Flame broiling” instead of frying- positioning them as the burger kings- in the same way you make a great burger in your back yard. Burger King appealed to some of the same triggers that work for Chipotle and Subway- their food was made more the way you make it at home. Home cooking beats the factory- that was a message and positioning that resonated.

To be the Burger King, all they had to do was make the best burger our there. Now, they are placing bets on salads, frappes, wraps and famous faces. Compare that to upstart chain, Five Guys. The whole business is focused on making burgers and fries. When you order- the cashier calls back the number of patties that need to be on the grill- nothing else. Take out the frying surface and replace it with open flame grilling and they would be the penultimate burger kings.The oversize portions of freshly cut fries as well as the fresh meat burgers make them the new Burger Kings. Advertising is mostly accomplished by word of mouth and the reviews posted around the store remind you that this is the burger joint of old reincarnated. Note- they don’t have a dollar menu, don’t do couponing, no TV ads either. Like the Chipotle model, the entire kitchen and process is on display.

My visit yesterday to Burger King to check out the “new changes” confirmed that BK isn’t the Burger King anymore- despite having cast aluminum burger flippers for door pulls, once I got into the line and watched the digital menu screens show me salads getting the sexy dressing pour and sundaes getting drizzled with chocolate sauce – I almost forgot I was in a burger place. The menu is schizophrenic with “stackers” for a buck- and the next step up is a burger starting at $3+. To confuse matters there are a ton of chicken offerings, salads and who knows what else. No one told me it would be at least three minutes for the “Chicken snack wrap” until after I ordered and the confusion of trying to speed things up by switching, then not switching my chicken for a second stacker reminded me of a three ring circus.

The moral of the story is to be successful, a brand has to know who they are and stick to it. That’s why the new Burger King is obviously Five Guys.

Why isn’t there customer service 2.0? Discuss 1

For every question I get about the wonders of “web 2.0″ it’s rare that we hear clients ask “what can I do to make my customer happier?” Will a mobile version of your website make them feel better about the washing machine they just bought? No.

It comes down to customer service- and understanding that the best marketing is outstanding customer service- “marketing as a service.”

Amazon got it when an ad agency suggested they spend at least $30 million a year on ads- and instead they decided to give their customers free shipping (of course, once they started into their own products like the Kindle- they had to start advertising).

One has to credit Crispin Porter + Bogusky for taking on Domino’s Pizza- and not only telling them that the quality of their pizza is the problem (they probably told VW that being below average in the JD Power car quality charts wasn’t helping sales too) but getting the company to pay money to tell customers that their pizza did suck, but it’s better now:

You can spend all the money on marketing you want- just remember, if your product or service is less than stellar- good advertising will only kill your product sooner.

That’s the beauty of web 2.0, not, when you screw up, someone will tell a lot of people- either on your site, where you can respond and try to fix it- or on anyone of millions of other sites, including their own- where you may or may not be able to respond. If you haven’t set up Google Alerts on every product name, company name, key people in your business- you may be finding out the hard way when things are going wrong.

If there is one place we need customer service 2.0 it’s government. Unfortunately, most politicians and bureaucrats think they are immune from finger pointing (although they’re all aces at it). The rest of the nation already understands the value of open, honest communication, unfortunately we’re still doing government with rules from long before the information age.

If you want an in your face take on customer service, I give you Gary Vaynerchuk of Wine Library speaking at SXSW (parental advisory for naughty words):

As a parting thought- thanks to Gary- it also doesn’t hurt for your company to have a personality either. Try reading “Personality not included” by Rohit Bhargava- it’ll wake you up to what kind of service is possible with personality.

There is no “App for that” when it comes to customer service- it all comes from the choices leadership makes. Advertising or free shipping? Quality product or lower pricing? A warranty that customers can believe in, or a legal trap to play gotcha?

Customer service should be first on everyone’s mind, everyday, because there is an app to tell the world when you screw up- you’re looking at it now. Comment below at will.

Ads you want to watch, and ads you don't (but do anyway). Discuss 9 Comments

We live in an attention society. Everybody wants it, few get it, and all of us give it.

Advertising legend Howard Luck Gossage said “People don’t read ads, they read what interests them and sometimes it’s an ad.”

In today’s marketplace, people watch and share the outrageous. The question is, is it outrageous in a way that extends your brand message? Is it something that helps you make your point about why brand X is better than brand Y?

Evian, a company that sells the most commoditized product in the world- water, gives us an entertaining ditty with babies roller skating to the track of “Rappers Delight”- anyone 40 and older- their core market, remembers this song, and thinks babies are cute. This ad will get a lot of positive spread.

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Then, there is an ad, probably done by the bad boys of advertising, Crispin Porter + Bogusky for Internet Explorer 8 and it’s private browsing feature. You’ll watch this- go, eehhwwwwww- and then tell 10 friends. O.M.G.I.G.P. or “Oh, my god, I’m gonna puke”

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If given the choice, which would you prefer represented your brand? And, if trends continue, the puking woman is outscoring the babies in views on YouTube by a landslide, so think carefully.

Why Crispin Porter + Bogusky is the reigning king of Hoopla (advertising) Discuss 0

Crispin Porter + Bogusky is proving why they are at the top of almost every agency search consultants list. Burger King continues to have same store growth after years of failed campaigns, and changing agencies. VW was almost ready to give up on the US market, again, but have at least started to rebound sales. But what started out as an embarrassingly bad intro for Microsoft with Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld, and then into an “I’m a PC” has now hit pay dirt by not even talking about Microsoft’s products, but by doing a comparison between PC hardware and Apple hardware.

“Laptop Hunters” is credited with changing perception of brand value, according to a BrandIndex study:

Based on daily interviews of 5,000 people, BrandIndex found the age group gave Apple its highest rating in late winter, when it notched a value score of 70 on a scale of -100 to 100 (a score of zero means that people are giving equal amounts of positive and negative feedback about a brand). But its score began to fall shortly after and, despite brief rallies, hovers around 12.4 today.

Microsoft, on the other hand, has risen from near zero in early February to a value-perception score of 46.2.

via In Mac vs. PC Battle, Microsoft Winning in Value Perception – Advertising Age – Digital.

Hefty gains in a short time, although Apple hasn’t sat idly by:

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But, while this battle royal can wage for years, the real reason that Crispin Porter + Bogusky keeps winning for their clients is that they get the fundamentals right.

They know that advertising is supposed to surprise and delight, not inform and sell. They take great pains to make sure that you might actually want to talk about the ads they do around the water cooler at work the next day.

Today, they pulled one out of the hat for me. I own a copy of “Hoopla” which is their monograph. For the most part, it’s heinously designed making it almost impossible to read, but, inside the back cover- I discovered (via a tweet by Alex Bogusky) there is a secret second book:

This guy @DomineConcept discovered the hidden book that was bound inside the back cover of our book Hoopla » link to Dominé Concept | Hooplanetics and a ripped up HOOPLA book….

Which led me to carefully operate on my $50 copy:

A secret book awaits inside the back cover

A secret book awaits inside the back cover

I’ve also been watching the CP+B Ebay auction of their interns time:

ANNOUNCING THE CP+B INTERN AUCTION

In the past, our interns have created work for companies like Burger King, Volkswagen, Guitar Hero and Microsoft. And now they can do the same for you. Bidding starts at $1 for three months of service with all proceeds going to the hardest working people we know – the CP+B interns themselves. So bid early and often, and world-class advertising can be yours for a fraction of the going rate.

via Crispin Porter + Bogusky Intern Auction: Summer 2009 – eBay (item 270392380113 end time May-27-09 10:57:37 PDT).

Which is currently going for $5,400.

It’s innovative, it’s interesting and it’s not strictly advertising. It’s a conscious effort to manipulate and shape contemporary culture, cajoling and dancing outside the boundaries of conventional advertising wisdom. Everything can be an ad if you make it interesting enough.

And that’s why they are winning awards, accounts and owning the crown of the Hoopla kings.

Comparison advertising: making a comeback? Discuss 3 Comments

Comparison advertising. It’s been around for a long time. In days of old, it was the way to go. Choosy Mom’s choose Jif, the Pepsi Challenge, We’re number 2, so we try harder, the demos showing how Bounty was the “quicker picker upper.”

During the boom years, comparison advertising became passe among market leaders- why give credit to your competition.

Typically, it was a way to leverage a smaller brand against the leader.

Audi challenges BMW and loses

Audi challenges BMW and loses

It’s a dangerous proposition. Look at the smackdown Audi gets from BMW in their billboards in Santa Monica on the right. Those who don’t study their craft are doomed to get hit twice. Honda fired Chiat/Day from their motorcycle account. Their new agency came up with “Follow the leader” to which Chiat/Day came back- now working for Yamaha with “Don’t follow anyone.”

When the economy goes bad- all bets are off. It’s time to go into the cage for a brand on brand death match.

While scrapping for every dollar might not be an option as consumers cut back, the damage it can do to a brand is real. Do you really want to be the cheapest, lowest price product when the money starts flowing again.

Chuck Porter once said at the Cincinnati Ad Club “Anyone can do a better price and product ad, all they have to do is have a lower price” so it sort of shocks me when Crispin Porter + Bogusky starts running ads for Microsoft based on price.

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Where “Laptop hunters” Lisa and Jackson go to buy a laptop for under $1,500 and do a comparison between Apple and a PC.

After the drilling Apple has given Microsoft with their “Get a Mac” campaign, which has won an Effie,  and has been credited for doubling market share, Apple had to see it coming.

But, this is the kind of attention Microsoft wanted when they hired the best ad agency in the country to try to breath life back into their bankrupt Windows/Vista brand.

Crispin Porter + Bogusky is again proving that edgy, strategic advertising can get people talking about a brand differently, quickly, by pushing buttons.

They did it for anti-smoking with Truth, Mini with “Lets Motor”, the creepy King and subservient chicken for Burger King, un-pimp your auto for VW and now MSFT is getting the treatment.

[The reality is: both Apple and Microsoft will be in trouble if some 17 year old does for Linux what Blake Ross did for the Mozilla code base to create Firefox.]

Realize that Microsoft isn’t even comparing their product to Apple in the ads- they are comparing their partners hardware- people aren’t validating Microsoft in the buying ads- but Sony, HP, Dell etc.

How many companies would spend their marketing dollars on promoting their marketing partners?

When times get tough, consumers do spend more time evaluating major purchases. However, it’s not price that they look at as much as value. Giving consumers reason to talk about your brand value is only a good idea if it is really there. Look at the response to a Business Week story on the subject of the Microsoft challenge- compared to a holy war.

Maybe the best advice still comes from that old Chiat/Day ad: “Don’t follow anyone” and don’t compare. Leadership has its privileges.

Alex Bogusky and bicycles for your mind…. or to ride b cycles for free Discuss 0

Alex Bogusky spoke at SXSW this year about his involvement in a free bicycle project in Bolder. The podcast audio is available here: Can an ad agency change the world with free bicycles

It’s a long listen, and without the slides- if you aren’t a bit familiar with the B Cycle project, the later part will get a little slow.
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And while the B Cycle is sexy and intriguing- the beginning of the podcast has some insight that hint at what makes Crispin Porter + Bogusky the hot agency: hint, it’s not about being an agency.

Alex claims to hate advertising and that he reads AdBusters- and not Ad Age. They don’t hire people for jobs, they hire smart people and let them figure out what to do- he calls CP+B a “Holding company for smart people.”

They don’t worry about deliverables- but more about “Business momentum”- and if you understand that business runs on cash flow- the idea of momentum makes perfect sense. Now that the agency numbers 900 people and has 1.5B in billings, things are a lot different from when he worked at what he considered the “third best agency in Miami” and was employee number 16.

For one thing, they no longer feel limited to doing “advertising” and claims that anything good that he’s been a part of, comes from sticking his nose where they don’t belong. This includes doing things like telling Mini that putting mileage restrictions on the sub-compact, while encouraging people to “Let’s Motor” didn’t make sense. This is marketing thinking, practiced at the highest level.

Just as accountants originally were part of assessing and evaluating business processes for profitability- instead of just how to account for taxes(and how to avoid them)- advertising is just one subset of the marketing process- not the end all and be all.

If your agency isn’t giving you insight on the complete customer connection experience, you don’t really have an agency- just an ad vendor.

In it’s early ads, Apple claimed the personal computer was the “bicycle for your mind”- and now, we have great minds rethinking bicycles. Spend some time with both the podcast- and thinking about the B Cycle concept- and how an ad agency can be a thought leader on solving the worlds problems, instead of being blamed for creating so many of them.

How to make a campaign relevant: hinge on insight Discuss 0

Sure, Burger King has seen 20 consecutive quarters of same-store-sales-growth since it finally hired an ad agency that “gets it” (Crispin Porter + Bogusky) and then let them do their thing.

Of course for that to happen, you also need a Chief Marketing Officer who “gets it” and it seems Russ Klein has some pretty good insight on what to green light:

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Mr. Klein: “Whopper Freakout” was a great example of tension and the way deprivation affects the way someone who is a loyal Whopper fan. We try to make all of our briefs hinge on some sort of social or anthropological insight that’s charged up with tension. It’s not like we’re trying to set our hair on fire to get tension.

via Burger King’s Russ Klein Promises More Premium Products – Advertising Age – CMO Strategy.

The line that we put in bold italics should be on a big sign above any marketers desk. It’s much easier to get an emotional response to something that’s already got emotions attached.

No one cares about your nifty new twist on your features, advantages or benefits- no, they want to know what’s in it for them- in a way that makes them lust for your product and trust your company.
Interestingly enough, the article on the other side of the spread was “Why emotional messages beat rational ones.” This quote sums it up nicely:

What the data show us is that emotional campaigns are almost twice as likely to generate large profit gains than rational ones, with campaigns that use facts as well as emotions in equal measure fall somewhere between the two.

It turns out that emotional campaigns in general generate a wider range of desirable business effects, each of which plays its part in improving profitability. But they excel in one noteworthy area: reducing price sensitivity, and hence strengthening the ability of brands to secure a premium in the marketplace (or, in the current economic climate, to hold firm on pricing).

To create messages with meaning, start looking at what decisions a buyer has to make to choose your product, and think of how it fits into the rest of their life- then find what makes them uncomfortable and make it engaging or funny- be it the complexity of a car- broken down into the parts that go together like the Honda Cog ad they point to in the second article or the “Whopper Freakout” campaign. Either way- you’ll get more interest, which should translate into more sales.

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The 140 character headline will be big in 2009: watch Twitter as adroit copywriters test their skills: Discuss 0

I thought about writing this post in 140 character Haiku- but that would be tough and time consuming. Twitter is fast and instant. The simple answer to “What are you doing” can be the ultimate test bed for concepts to our attention deficit audiences. Want to find out what people think: test it on your followers.

Leading tweetheads can make hits magically appear on a site in minutes with a 140 character or less tweet with a link. Launching a new product? Want to test a headline? Tweet the variations to different audiences and see what hits show up. A whole new practice of market research will appear- with the ability to get almost instant feedback.

Soon PR and ad agencies will be evaluated by their social network juice. How many people can you connect to who will work as brand evangelists? Crispin Porter & Bogusky launched Subservient Chicken for Burger King when the agency was 150 staffers- by just emailing their friends about the site. Quickly, the site ended up on top of the viral site hall of fame list. Now the agency is at 600+ employees.

While Twitter is still only reaching a small subset of the population at large, it’s reaching the all critical early-adopter, influencer crowd. So along with client lists and credentials, maybe hiring an agency should also involve checking out their social networks. Friends, followers and connections are the new currency of media power- and a great 140 character (or less) headline will be critical.

Accessible and searchable should be part of profitable. Discuss 0

At what lengths will an agency go to spend a clients hard earned money. If you are Crispin Porter + Bogusky, to Greenland, Thailand and other far away places to make a spot called “Whopper Virgins.” The concept is brilliant- do the ultimate blind taste test, find people who’ve never eaten a hamburger, and may not even know the difference between McDonalds and Burger King.

So far so good. But then after a very expensive shoot, and a brilliant, entertaining short documentary, you fail to let the world find the site online as discussed in Ad Age:

…Whopper Virgins, its latest endeavor, may be the best yet… if you can find it.

The Whopper Virgins experience begins with a TV commercial with a brief teaser that directs you to WhopperVirgins.com. … it’s running heavily during weekend football games. Go to the site and you’re treated to a video of Burger King running a Whopper vs. Big Mac taste test with people in Romania, Thailand and Greenland who have never eaten a hamburger before. It’s poignant and amusing, if you can tolerate the implicit ethnocentrism.

What if you don’t remember the exact Web address and Google it? You still better remember the domain name. While whopperVirgins.com ranks first in Google for “whopper virgins,” it’s invisible when you omit the plural.

There are three areas of neglect here:

* The domain: WhopperVirgin.com is a parked domain filled with ads for Burger King store listings, Virgin Mobile gifts, Virgin Atlantic flights, Virgin Islands vacations and Virgin Mary checks.

* Search engine optimization: The microsite doesn’t appear on the first three pages of Google results for “whopper virgin” searches.

* Paid search: While reviewing Google’s listings over several days, there hasn’t been a search ad running on “whopper virgin” queries.

This is a major missed opportunity. Google Trends shows that recently, the volume of searches for the singular and plural versions have been nearly equal. “Whopper virgin” searchers must either go to an intermediary site or refine their search. Why can’t consumers ‘have it their way’ and get to Burger King’s site even if they’re off by a letter? This multimillion-dollar branding campaign could have covered all its bases with a $10,000 search marketing investment. As it stands now, Burger King risks frustrating consumers instead of serving up one whopper of a video.

Burger King’s Whopper of a Virginal Search Slip-up – Advertising Age – DigitalNext.

We’ve been preaching the same thing, ever since Crispin did the expensive “Manthem” spot. In fact, most ad agency sites are just as oblivious to both search and accessibilty. Both of which should be critical to any client and their budget.

Before you approve a large web budget, you should first, try to google your agency. Go to www.google.com and type in: site:youragencyurl.tld like site:thenextwave.biz

If they don’t have more total results than we do, start wondering (especially if there are more than 2 commas in your budget). We’re happy to evaluate digital strategy for any one who is about to spend a gazillion dollars on an online based campaign like Whopper Virgins.

In case you want to see it- try it right here, instead of going to the site that does nothing for search.

Crispin Porter + Bogusky crashes Microsoft Discuss 0

It only takes 3x longer than an Apple ad to say absolutely nothing about why you should buy Vista- or believe Microsoft is anything different than the company that has ignored it’s customers for, well, since day one.

Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Gates meet in a mall at “Shoe Circus” and do exactly what Seinfeld is best known for- talk about nothing. As they walk out of the mall, after Bill has flashed his Shoe Circus Clown Club membership card, Seinfeld asks for a sign about the amazing future those geniuses at Microsoft have been dreaming up- just to get Bill to wiggle his ass on camera.

That shot is probably the most honest part of the whole spot: since Microsoft has been showing us their ass for as long as we’ve used their operating system and software. Software that crashes, software that attracts viruses like shit seduces flies, and a user interface that has never been intuitive- making the complex – harder. For the life of me, why does an end user need to know about a “registry?”

When Crispin Porter + Bogusky pitched this campaign- sources said that the winning concept was “Windows, not walls.” Somewhere along the line, they seem to have gotten sidetracked.

The Mojave Experiment was an attempt to do a “Pepsi Challenge” for Vista- only it was Vista in both cups. The website can’t be watched on a Mac- so forget about getting those customers back- and, it showcases one of the key problems Microsoft refuses to face: computing standards make for a better computing experience. From the earliest days of Mac vs PC it’s been the fundamental unique selling proposition that makes Mac’s the brand that can charge a premium and generate loyalty- once you learned how to do something in one program, it worked for all of them. Microsoft keeps thinking that the reasons users don’t like their software is because users are stupid- instead of realizing it was never about the software- it was about what you as a user, could accomplish with the software.

CP+B may have finally met a challenge that great ads can’t solve. This was only the first salvo. However, if Apple decides to release their OS X operating system to run on all Intel based PC’s for $249 (about double what they charge to run it on a Mac) Microsoft’s stock will fall faster than GM’s when gas hits $5 a gallon (as if it could fall much more).

In the end, we still come down to the old adage: “It’s not creative if it doesn’t sell.”

“Hi, I’m a Mac” from Chiat/Day has doubled market share for Apple in the last 2 years, while Apple is still charging a premium on their hardware. Go look at the comments on the YouTube spot above- and repeat after me: “I’m a PC and I’m leaving the building.”

Part II: a 4.5 minute showing Bill and Jerry trying to hang out with the “little people”- now Bill is doing the robot. Smacks of desperation.

Somewhere there has to be a strategy?

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