Crispin Porter + Bogusky is the über hot ad agency of the last few years. We write about them, other people write about them, and everybody has an opinion. While celebrities have their paparazzi, the hot agencies have their armchair quarterbacks.
We write about them, because we know there are people searching for great, smaller, independent agencies- and hope they take a look at us (we think we understand web 2.0 better than CP+B and can help our clients get bigger bang for their buck)- but also because, well, the ads are interesting to us.
So, while Seth Stevenson writes in Slate why he hates Crispin ads- (and we have a few we detest too)- we thought this section was worth discussing:
Why I sort of hate the hottest ad agency in the country. - By Seth Stevenson - Slate Magazine
Strong reactions. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, a vigorous response is precisely what Crispin wants. As CEO Jeff Hicks told me, “We make a conscious effort to have our brands commented on and talked about.” It’s his feeling that in a world supersaturated with content—video games, Web clips, text messages, etc.—to “break through and be noticed is a huge victory.” Crispin is the master of breaking through, getting attention with its provocative TV ads and also with smart viral projects (remember the Subservient Chicken?).
But is all attention good attention? This is an age-old question at the heart of the ad game. And there’s really no right answer. Sometimes a provocative, attention-getting ploy is just what a brand needs. Other times, the tactic falls on its face.
You see, local car dealers have been doing the same thing for years (as did a really obnoxious carpet dealer named Buddy)- they did ads that people talked about- that “broke through” - and that drove our community nuts. Yes, they all have top-of-mind awareness, but, no, it wasn’t the most effective way of advertising. David Ogilvy suggests that you create ads that your mother would be able to like, understand and accept- screaming, being obnoxious, etc. isn’t the answer.
When we were challenged with changing the image of Mendelson’s Liquidation Outlet, we refused to put the owner on his own spots- screaming “I’m crazy Sandy, I’ve got deals” (which of course he did after we ended the relationship)- instead we created the “explorer dude” and his “shopping safari” concept- coupled with the tagline “The first place to look for every last thing”- which cut through the clutter, yet didn’t annoy.
As the industry leader, with everyone scrambling for competitive advantage, Crispin is able to sometimes dicatate to their own detriment. The Haggar Dog Crap spot- while entertaining, may loose the pants in the joke. And while we enjoyed the “Unpimp your auto” campaign for VW- it alienated an audience that could one day be potential VW buyers.
Creating an emotional response is critical in advertising- but, when given a choice, go for something your Mom would enjoy.