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.
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.