Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Alchemists

I found this movie trailer on Room 116, it’s for a movie called The Alchemists, a documentary on some of the most influential advertisers of our day. This will a significant film, no matter how it actually turns out because there has never been a film created for the public that accurately gets into the details of the creative process of advertising. I believe it will do two positive things. First, it will educate the public on what we really do. Hopefully I’ll get to do less explaining to my friends and family. It’s kind of like pulling the curtain back and revealing the Wizard of Oz. Second, There is a chance that the film might portray our job as something “decent” to the public. It would please me to see the public realize that we aren’t evil people with a plot to corrupt the world. Of course, there’s a chance that the film may actually reinforce this mindset. I guess we will see.

• Watch the Trailer

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

What CP+B Has Taught Me

My time at CP+B is coming to an end. It has been intense, long, exhilarating, too short, fun, challenging, easy, tiring, amazing, and very real. I have learned far more than I desired and missed out on too much. It’s these crucible types of experiences that are never forgotten. I hope my notes have given a peek to those who want to see what this place is all about. Below I will try to summarize much of what I have learned for those who missed out.

Before I get to the summary, I wanted to address something I mentioned to some friends. A few weeks ago CP+B had a few all-agency meetings in which Alex, Chuck, Jeff Steinhour, and a few BK big dogs spoke. I took notes and by request intended to post what was said. I want to apologize to those who are expecting these notes and explain why I have decided to withhold. It’s like many experiences in life that can only be understood by being there yourself. Working at CP+B is like this. You really can’t grasp how hard they work, how strong their culture is, or how much energy is within the walls without working there yourself. So I have chosen to keep the events of that meeting to myself, so they remain as inspiring as they were the day they happened.
If this disappoints you I have some advice of my own, work on your book, make a contact, and apply for an internship at CP+B around April. Like CP+B has shown me, good things come to those who work for them.

Here is an attempt at a summary of what I have learned here at CP+B:

1. A strong culture is what makes CP+B successful. Foster a culture unique to your organization, believe in it, and live it.

2. Advertisers don’t have to back down to every whim of the client. In fact, if you aren’t pushing for what you believe is best you are giving less than what they contracted you for.

3. Say the simple message. The strategy, nothing more. (Thanks Paul K.)

4. Most agencies don’t get as much recognition as CP+B because they don’t work as hard. Believe it, I’m not exaggerating.

5. Working too hard inside all the time can make all the work look alike, and push even the most creative to quit.

6. Making boundaries between the youngest creatives and the most experienced creatives can be really annoying when you believe in the principle that the idea is boss.

7. CP+B truly believes the idea is boss.

8. Do something that relates to culture, or even better creates it.

9. There is a reason behind all the madness of CP+B. Don’t believe it? Compare the cost of rent in Miami to the cost of buying in Boulder.

10. Don’t pay attention to haters.

11. While some egos do exist at CP+B, nothing gets in the way of the work getting out.

12. Everyone is busy. Everyone helps.

13. Communication could be much better if everyone listened to the traffic department.

14. Do something courageous, bold, and brave.

15. Alex is not a robot. He is somewhat of a genius. If you have ever wondered if he really deserves the attention, know that I personally witnessed his wisdom and it comes because he is a real person.

Thanks to all who gave these entries even half of a wink,

Concept Hunter

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Input = Output

Up until now my only posts about Crispin Porter + Bogusky have been positive. I admire much about the agency and the way they work. However, if I am committed to sharing my truthful observations I must include my criticism.
Advertising is a very intense industry, everyone works hard, no matter what agency you work in. However, I feel that CP+B must be near to the top of the list . No matter what day and hour you walk in to the agency you will find people working. As an intern I recently spent a full week and a half working until at least 3am everyday, on several priority projects. It was expected no one flinched at the thought. So believe me when I say CP+B is likely the hardest working agency right now. This is good to know. With all the hype the CP+B receives, it is nice to know that it has been paid for with extreme effort.
So now I get to my criticism, which is that advertising is also an industry dependent upon ones ability to communicate effectively with everyday people, and in order to do this you must make a practice of taking in the world around you. In general, CP+B seems to be lacking this practice.
So much work is done inside the concrete block of an agency that It seems they are getting better only at talking to themselves. For example, a once, very mainstream VW audience has now become a, people-like-CP+B VW owners audience. The humor in the BK campaign is very much CP+B humor. I also recently saw a concept that combined two CP+B clients in one execution. That just feels wrong and not in line with true creativity. This doesn’t mean they aren’t doing a good job. The clients are happy, sales are up, and I am very impressed myself. This may be just a personal opinion in the end, but I feel that it takes great input to create great output. Get out side and live for a while. It may improve the ability to talk to people you live with. We should always remember that it is these people who are the very audiences seek to communicate with.

Breed a VW rabbit

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Surface Level Thinking

I haven’t been in the business long. I’ve only worked at a few agencies and seen a few different styles. So when I talk about the industry as a whole, I’m sure there are exceptions. However, from my observations I feel there is a tendency that hinders the ability for creatives to come up with innovative traditional and “nontraditional” advertising. Too often the creative brief will state the required medium in the first paragraph. I have learned and agree with something they do here at Crispin Porter + Bogusky. I call it surface level thinking. Long before you start thinking of a medium, you begin by thinking of the most basic, creative way to express the value of the product. For example, the target of the Volkswagen GTI has a nagging urge to drive fast. What if we represent this urge with a character that says out loud what these drivers are thinking in their heads? You come up with a ton of these small thoughts and present them to your Creative Director. After you have a few good thoughts then you continue to push them out until they eventually fall into the best medium fit for the message. The key is to stay on the surface and let the best ideas find their way to a root (medium). CB+B calls this thinking of creative content. I heard about this process first at a Utah Ad Fed luncheon where Jamie Webb spoke about it. Jamie did a great job explaining it, but now I realize how possible it is that no one really understood him enough to know how to do it. I hope this post helps.

• Why the sumos?

Friday, June 16, 2006

Technology in Advertising for Dummies

No, I don't mean to be offensive; I'm referring to how we all are learning how to use technology to convey advertising messages. I'm also referencing three projects that we can use to learn from; similar to how we use "(blank) for dummies" books. I'll start with the most impressive example first. uses live video feed from a VW Rabbit taxi cab. The cab driver has never been to NY and you as the viewer get to experience it all with him. This is an genius CP+B project that mixes new technology in a unobtrusive manner, and it's something more than just a website.

The second example is a videocast and minisite by Nike and Google. For those less familiar with videocasts, they are free downloadable video clips created and posted by anyone. This project is called Joga Bonito (Play Beautiful), and promotes the play of futbol, football, or soccer, with finesse. The amazing part is that it combines the great videocast with a minisite that allows you to join the Joga community. Joining gets you in contact with other soccer fanatics and gives you a personal Joga blog, which you can use to keep in contact with these fans. Visit iTunes to find the videocasts and to see the minisite.

The last example is another VW/CP+B project. If you go to you can customize a Jetta and crash it into various things. It is a fun way to use CGI in a educational manner and keep the severity of car accidents in a humorous tone.

After my last post I received a comment that I sounded a little lofty. Well, I agree. I did get a little high on a soapbox. However, I believe there is a drastic change that needs to occur in several dinosaur agencies. It doesn't make them wrong or stupid; the bigger the ship the longer it takes to change course. I felt that these few examples may be a good example of how admirable companies like VW and Nike are willing accepting these technological advances. Let's not fall behind. Let's lead the way as advertisers and embrace these great new media.

Monday, June 12, 2006

The Key Ingredient

I've come to believe that the key ingredient to the success of an advertising agency is confidence. At least that is why CP+B is doing so well. On their home page,, they refer to themselves as a factory, and that is exactly what they are. Every aspect of the agency is set up to create exceptional work. The process they use holds no prejudice to name or status. As you go through your day meeting people you'll find out that everyone is a believer. Everyone from the account side to the creative directors; from the media people to the interns—they all believe that nothing but the best creative work will come forth because of their contributions. The changes in the industry and emergence of new media are nothing of a scare here. In fact they are usually using the media before it becomes highly popularized. It's because the people here use this new media in their lives and are not scared to use it to talk to others like them. They are confident that the "Idea [truly] is Boss". I know many agencies claim this same motto but they probably don't realize that they aren't truly following it. They have fear. Fear of changing the structure of the creative department; fear of losing clients, or fear they may offend that old proud creative director. Joseph Jaffe, author of, Life After the 30–Second Spot, and voice of the Across the Sound podcast said, "Resistance to change is directly proportionate to what the old regime has to lose." I very much agree. After all it's easy to believe, "if it worked once why shouldn't it work again?" Wrong. Doing more of the same thing will only get you more of the same results, and if the results are not what you want, you need to change. I don't blame the agencies that want to change but don't know how. Well, I know I'm no authority, but begin with this thought. What should you fear most, taking a risk to keep up with new changes, or falling away completely?

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Phenomenon of Our Generation

They have their critics and their fans. What's sure is that they have started a wave in the industry that can't be ignored. I like to think of them as the phenomenon of our generation. Each generation has one, Weiden/Kennedy, Chiat/Day, Doyle Dane Bernbach. This one is ours. I have had my reservations about some of the work but what I can't deny is that the work is smart. I like smart. So, I took a chance, following some good advice I left a job opportunity to take an internship at our very own CP+B. I intend to share some insights from my experience. Not breaking confidentiality, of course. I know that many advertising professionals are curious to know if the hype is real. Even I was curious to know how they sold their crazy ideas to their clients. So without giving away too much, I hope to make these next few posts an informative testimonial on what happens within the walls of our generation's advertising phenomenon.

•Photo proof of my association is shown above. My "Flop Flips".

Smart Ideas.

I've decided to change the subject of my posts on this blog.
Instead of just commenting on advertising I've decided to include principles, lessons, and advice that I have picked-up and learned. Most of the stuff will come from the great minds of the creative directors I work with; other stuff will come from my own thoughts. I hope that this will become a resource to other creatives and inspire the young guns, like me. Let's start with this nontraditional piece for Benjamin Moore paints. Ignoring the, "It's been done before" critics,
I think this is a great idea. I've seen many a print ad that have tried to say the same thing in a much less impacting way. Why do I like it? Because it's smart. I get so tired of the creative that just thinks of the craziest thought and forces it to fit the client's needs. Even the crazy work of Crispin Porter + Bogusky has very well thought out planning work. The premise of each idea fits the target audience with perfection. Don't insult the audience. A good idea is both smart and creative.

•This ad was found at Advertising/Design Goodness

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Mac vs. PC

I had to make mention of these ads. I get a kick out of the controversy that comes from the "Mac vs. PC" issue. I like them, probably because I relate to them in some way. I have had similar conversations before. However, I don't know if it is a good TV spot. Not because I'm afraid PC users will be a offended, I could careless. I just think that the reason for promoting this issue should be to get Mac users to be even more proud. It doesn't really get the mass audience to feel the same way that the Mac audience feels. Therefore, on is where it belongs.

•• View the spots

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Visa Worm

So far I haven't liked the "Life Takes Visa" campaign but this next one really caught my attention. I think I was annoyed by the oversaturation of Visa ads during the Olympics. One night I couldn't get the theme song out of my head. However TBWA/Chiat Day came up with this spot that combined several things that relate to me. First, breakdancing. I love anything with breakdancing esspecially a worm that does "the worm". Second, flip-book animations. At times in my childhood I made flip books on anything I could find, even library books. Third, the classic record scratch'n, synthesizing song. I used to here this song at all the breakdancing functions in high school. It may not be the most clever concept but I loved the execution.

  • View the Spot

  • Friday, March 10, 2006

    Interactive-Guitar-Shredding Genius

    I saw this one from Room 116 and had to blog about it. It is a great example of the advances in interactive communication. It mixes animation and interactivity to allow the user to be part of the actual storyline. I'm amazed with the technology and pleased with the art. This type of thing is going to be more and more a part of advertising.

    Visit the website

    Wednesday, March 08, 2006

    VW Madness

    Once again, CP+B has produced some very intriguing work. This time it is for one of advertising's greatest brands, Volkswagen. They are running two campaigns, "Fast" and "Un-pimp My Ride", both leave you with a reaction that Crispin Porter loves to create; the "What the...Chuckle, chuckle, No way did they just do that!" reaction. I'm occasionally skeptical about the CP+B work, especially when it involves musicals. However I have to admit I like the core message of these campaigns. The core message of the Fast campaign is that the GTI makes you want to drive fast. For the Un-pimp campaign it is that the GTI is already a pimped with stylish German engineering. Simple, True, and Memorable. My only concern is that it seems to clash with the VW advertising of the past. VW has such a longstanding reputation for intelligent and clean advertising. It's no question that the famous "Think Small" work of Bernbach is classic. Does this Fast really match the intelligence of Bernbach's work?

  • View the "Un-pimp" Campaign

  • View the "Fast" Campaign
  • Friday, February 17, 2006

    Talking bad about Chuck

    Charles Schwab advertising has taken a huge risk with its new "Talk to Chuck" campaign. To the creatives that managed to get this crazy execution successfully by the client, I give you credit. However, I don't like the approach. Yes, the animation gets your attention. Yes, the style gives the finacial institute contemporary feel. Yes, it's original. BUT it's just too obvious. The tagline "Talk to Chuck" is too forced. The animation style has no relevance to the message. The attempt to be new and hip is just too straight forward for the skepticism of today's media savvy consumer. Everyone knows what they are trying to do and half of them are just creeped out by the art. What do you think?

  • View the "Chuck" Campaign

  • Thursday, February 16, 2006

    Super Bowl XL

    I know I'm a little behind, been busy recently, but the Super Bowl can't go without mentioning.
    Let me just compare my personal top ten with U.S. Today's top ten and some comments

    U.S. Today Top Ten:
    Bud Light A secret fridge stocks Bud Light.
    Budweiser Young Clydesdale dreams big.
    FedEx Cave man uses prehistoric overnight delivery.
    Sierra Mist Sierra Mist can't clear airport security.
    Bud Light Men pretend to work on rooftops, but relax instead.
    Budweiser Sheep streaks at big game.
    Ameriquest Patient's family walks in on medical misunderstanding.
    Bud Light Office manager motivates employees with hidden bottles.
    Ameriquest Plane turbulence creates awkward situation.
    Budweiser Stadium crowd turns a wave into a Bud promotion.

    My Top Ten:
    FedEx Cave man uses prehistoric overnight delivery.
    Ameriquest Patient's family walks in on medical misunderstanding.
    Ameriquest Plane turbulence creates awkward situation.
    Bud Light A secret fridge stocks Bud Light.
    Sierra Mist Sierra Mist can't clear airport security.
    Bud Light Camper sprints faster than a bear.
    Dove Girls hate their looks
    CareerBuilder Lady works with jack asses
    Sharpie Pirate uses clickable sharpie
    DIet Pepsi Kung Fu can stunt double

    I think the Fedex spot gave the most laughs and the Ameriquest spots are clever genius.
    The Bud Light campaign was great as ussual. Sierra Mist was a plesant chuckle. Dove made every girl I know feel good, effective. Sharpie was an under-rated laugh. Diet Pepsi gets respect from me only because I worked on it with DDB NY.

    Some other comments: Michelob, I can't handle another tackle joke. Totally over done with the Office Linebacker and several other spots. United Airlines, great art direction but maybe a little too artsy for the general public. Disney NFL, great feel good spot, however it can't be played after the Super Bowl, not too smart. ESPN Mobile, cool and often overlooked, probably too weak for the Super Bowl. Slim Fast, Stephen I respect you so much that I understand this isn't representative of your best work. Hummer, this gets a negative reaction for some reason, probably because the coolness of the Hummer is fading fast. Emerald Nuts, way too far guys, like drawing words from a hat, dumb. I have strong opinions about several others but this will do.

  • View Super Bowl XL Spots

  • Saturday, January 21, 2006

    What's Inside Kevin Garnett?

    A very fun, artistic spot released by Adidas for Kevin Garnett's new basketball shoe. The first time I saw it was on TV and the war scene caught my eye immediately. I kept thinking, "is that KG?" and then got the payoff when I saw the last scene. I like it, especially the juxtaposition of the quiet piano music. The name of the spot is "What's Inside." I like the title, even though it is similar to "Intel Inside." It hints to the character of the athelete and the thought that it's the athelete inside the shoe that matters.
    Overall a pretty good combative move against the old LeBron James

    Unfortunately I can't find a free viewing version on the web.
    If you have an Ad Age login you can see it on the spots of the week.

  • View Ad Age Version
    Or go to the
  • Adidas Website
  • Friday, January 13, 2006

    Mac Attack

    I will submit my own opinion on this one.
    The new spot launched during the MacWorld conference about the Intel chip. The spot is an obvious cut at the PC world; I quote, "Starting today the Intel chip will be set free and get to live life inside a Mac". Once again an ingenious spot for Apple. Why? well it's true that there is no real chance of Apple taking over the computer market, but in the eyes of the savvy consumer (the target audience) Apple just took the upper hand. Who cares if PC users get mad, who cares if Intel is upset. This ad is made to get Mac users to buy more Macs and be proud of it. Once Intel finds out how many of these chips their selling in Macs, because of Apple's marketing, their complaints will gradually become silent.

  • View the Spot

  • Wanna Hear a Honda?

    This spot was submitted by my friend Stephen, a copywriter at Ogilvy NY. He suggested that the best format for the spot would be in a movie theater with surround sound. I couldn't agree more.
    Honda is a company built on innovation. Does this spot hit fit the brand?

  • View the Spot