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What Alex Bogusky's Departure Means for MDC, Ad Industry

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Call it the end of an era. Alex Bogusky, the oft-long-haired ad man who has won piles of industry awards, graced many a publication's cover, raced motorcycles and, like any real celebrity, boasted legions of fans, haters and Twitter impersonators, is leaving MDC Partners.


And he's not only leaving the Toronto-based holding company, to which he sold Crispin Porter & Bogusky, the agency he joined as an art director in 1989 and helped build and export from Miami to Boulder, Co. He's leaving the industry altogether.


That his interests have strayed from the ad world is far from shocking. Over the past two years Mr. Bogusky, who turns 47 this month, has spent less and less time with clients in favor of writing books, advocating green transportation such as bike-sharing programs and hosting an online talk show from a new headquarters he refers to as the "cottage."




Outspoken beliefs

What is curious is the timing of his departure. It comes at a time when Mr. Bogusky has been increasingly airing his outspoken personal beliefs, which could be viewed as a liability. It's not clear whether the holding company felt it was time for him to speak on behalf of himself -- and only himself -- or if he determined those beliefs no longer jibed with his profession.


In November 2009 he published "9-Inch Diet," a book which, coming from someone who'd crafted advertising campaigns for Domino's Pizza and Burger King, would seem inflammatory enough. People magazine plugged the book -- but failed to note Crispin's client list included a few famous fast-feeders.


More recently, Mr. Bogusky posted a lengthy essay decrying children's advertising that mentioned current Crispin client Burger King.


Among the excerpts:


* "My old client at Burger King used to talk about pulling all the kids' advertising as a way to garner some positive press and put pressure on McDonald's to do the same, knowing that it was a much, much bigger part of McDonald's business."


* "As we took on the BK account, we politely offered that we could not work on that part of their marketing. And in subsequent years we declined multiple invitations to work on the kids' business. Once one of our adult spots for 'SpongeBob SquarePants' (hard to believe, but young adults love Sponge Bob) was repurposed and re-edited by another agency to add toy footage and aired on Nick. I was livid and we got it pulled."


* "It's not a matter of the rightness or wrongness of the products being advertised. That is a grey area. But there are children and there are adults. And the duty of adults in society is to protect its children. And that is black and white."


The essay dropped at a time when Crispin is running TV commercials featuring children for its new Kraft Mac & Cheese client, and key client Burger King is clearly examining its agency roster under new global chief marketing officer Natalia Franco. It's easy to surmise Mr. Bogusky's ramblings are becoming a sore spot for Crispin and its clients.


MDC Chairman-CEO Miles Nadal declined to elaborate on the company's written statement provided earlier this morning, which thanked Mr. Bogusky for his service; Mr. Bogusky, meanwhile, did not return requests for comment.


In order for him to exit, MDC had to break its contract with Mr. Bogusky -- whose face as of this story's publication was still emblazoned on the company's website. His Crispin contract wasn't set to end till December 2010 thanks to a contract extension he signed in November 2007, when MDC upped its incremental investment in Crispin. (MDC now owns Crispin outright.)


Deutsche Bank analyst Matthew Chesler in a note to clients today shrugged off the exit. "What does all this mean for CPB?" Mr. Chesler wrote. "It means that we are all looking in the rear-view mirror at a transition that has already happened. If there's any disruption in account activity or loss of talent, it certainly won't be because of Bogusky's resignation."


Ad industry effect

And indeed, Mr. Bogusky for the better part of two years hasn't touched client business at the agency, having trained a new band of creatives that are winning accolades such as its Interactive Agency of the Year award last week at Cannes. But his departure does mean he won't be influencing the creative at other agencies under the MDC umbrella, as he was set to do in his new holding-company-wide role. It also raises the question of whether the ad business will be affected by one of its most visible creative leaders leaving it altogether.


Industry recruiters are torn.


"It's always sad when the person whose name is on the door leaves," said Sharon Speilman, managing director at Howard Sloan Koller Group. Clients tend to look at an agency and assume that the man whose name is on the door is actively involved with every aspect of their business, but it's really about how they influence everything about the agency's culture and mission. And I think Alex has always done that. He brought in the kind of people that believe in his mission."


She added: "The disappointment to MDC is the influence he would have had on other agencies. Would he himself have attracted people that MDC might not have? That's possible."


"It's not like he was sitting playing a meaningful role in the day-to-day execution of all those agencies," said Pat Mastandrea, partner at the Cheyenne Group. "People don't get into one career industry and stay for the rest of their lives anymore. As a trend, we have an opportunity today to have multiple careers in a lifetime. It's time for him to be moving on and doing something ... he represents a great role model for creative people."


Susan Friedman, head of New York and California-based search firm and recruitment firm Susan Friedman Ltd., believes "it will have an interesting impact on MDC. Many agencies are changing their creative leadership as the business is changing. People get tired and want to reinvent themselves, and this is a time for agencies to be reinventing themselves, so why not the top people?"


Next up?

Indeed, 2010 has been a year for many of the industry's most prominent players to explore new horizons. A long list including the likes of Gerry Graf, Colleen Decourcy, Ty Montague and Rosemarie Ryan have all left their jobs at big agencies to try new ventures.


As for what Mr. Bogusky will do next, it wouldn't be a surprise if he gave directing a try. After all, at one time he was shopping a movie to Hollywood and, as recently as last year, was rumored to have been working on a documentary-slash-reality show about the agency. Meanwhile Ad Age readers are torn between having him lead the government's anti-childhood-obesity task force and starting a TV talk show.


What he won't be doing? Working with Crispin clients or earning some $2 million a year.


Mr. Bogusky is subject to a multi-year non-compete agreement -- a "non-solicitation/non-servicing agreement" -- that he originally signed in January 2001, when MDC bought its initial 49% stake in Crispin (as of October 2009 it owns 100%. Deutsche Bank in its note estimated that the company would save $2 million or more annually with him off the payroll.


Contributing: Brad Johnson


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Pa, dobro, bivalo je to vec da carevi kazu: "Ako je za vajdu, dosta je bilo..."

Na primer: http://www.dellafemina.com/jerry.html

(Obratiti paznju na kojem sajtu se nalazi biografija.)


IMHO, najpoucniji deo teksta: "People don't get into one career industry and stay for the rest of their lives anymore. As a trend, we have an opportunity today to have multiple careers in a lifetime."

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Aw ... Alex Bogusky + Miles Nadal = BFF

By Brian Morrissey on Tue Jul 6 2010


Bogusky If you thought the long holiday weekend meant we could move on from Alex Bogusky's decision to leave advertising, think again. Fast Company.com came out with a post by Danielle Sacks about Bogusky (pictured). This is the same writer who once began a piece about Crispin Porter + Bogusky by quoting a staffer comparing Alex to Jesus Christ. The latest item suggests some drama behind Bogusky's "divorce" from MDC Partners. Not so, both MDC CEO Miles Nadal and Bogusky claim in dual blog posts of their own. Nadal gives the creative superstar some heavy praise, going on to quote from a "Love, Alex" e-mail Bogusky sent when he resigned. Bogusky's take affirms his fidelity to Nadal: "I left advertising. I did. But I didn't leave Miles, and I don't plan to leave any of my other friends I've made over the years." Phew.



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alexbogusky’s posterous

Fear is the mortal enemy of creativity, innovation and happiness


My First Flower


"Stop and smell the flowers," is apparently a misquote from a 1958 book by golf legend Walter Hagen. "You're only here for a short visit. Don't hurry. Don't worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way," he said. I didn’t read the book, but I’ve known the phrase my whole life it seems. I sort of prefer the misquote, “Stop and smell the flowers.” To me, it has always been a euphemism for slowing down and enjoying life. But I think I’ve come to realize this one is best taken quite literally.


It took me 46 years to actually stop and smell a flower and I would suggest that was way too long.


A few weeks ago I was on a walking back from lunch. This is important. Because it is much more difficult to stop and smell the flowers when you’re driving. So walking is key. Anyway, there was another man coming the other way across the street and he seemed very happy. Suddenly he noticed something on my side of the street and made a beeline toward me. As he passed he commented, “I wonder what these smell like.” And as I walked away I heard him say, “not much smell at all.” Well, I wanted to be this happy, but I didn’t want to bite on his style right away. So I made a mental note to try this flower smelling on my walk home. On the next walk home I remembered the man, but I was running late for something so I considered putting it off until another time - but then it hit me: the “stop” really means stop. I’ve smelled flowers before. Plenty of times. But not when I was supposed to be doing something “more important.”


So I stopped and I smelled them. At first, it felt a bit silly. Then I went to another bunch and smelled them. I wondered if I looked like a crazy person. But I pushed on and pretty soon I felt like I had stumbled on gold. The willingness to stop what I was doing because I found myself in front of some flowers was a test I had been failing for 46 years. The silent question to me all this time has been, “Are you really here, Alex? Are you truly paying attention?” “Well thank you for asking, oh, asker-of-silent-questions,” I say, “I’m doing better. And I’ve finally started smelling your flowers.”


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alex bogusky collector plate




My co-workers will get a kick out of this one. I'm usually going on and on here about the greatness of Alex Bogusky's work. Well, maybe he's not so smart. He never registered his domain name, AlexBogusky.com. Or maybe he lost it in a poker game. And now someone's selling it on ebay. Along with the adorable Alex collector plate graphic, pictured above. You don't actually get the plate - but you could download the photo of the plate. It's all currently waiting for a $100 bid. I think I'll bid on this today.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Conspiracy theory: There is no person named Alex Bogusky.

Proof 1: The surname "Bogusky" is derived from "bogus".

Proof 2: The name "Alex" is so obviously fake.

Proof 3: The person called Alex Bogusky looks so Reptilian.

Proof 4: The person called Alex Bogusky plays "More Than Words" on acoustic guitar, which can be done with no risk for mental health only by Nuno Bettencourt, Reptilians, or 3D-simulation.

Possible conclusion 1: Alex Bogusky is an identity in WPP (which is not a communication services group, but acronym for "Witness Protection Program", but that's another conspiracy theory).

Possible conclusion 2: Alex Bogusky is 3D-simulation, digitally created when Crispin & Porter didn't know what to do next.

Possible conclusion 3: Alex Bogusky is Reptilian.

Possible conclusion 4: Nuno Bettencourt is Alex Bogusky and for this prank he will burn in hell while listening "More Than Words" played by Extreme tribute band Simulacrum & The Reptilians.

Possible conclusion 5: I should make some coffee and do some work instead of this...

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  • 2 weeks later...



(5) Members Only Each key card to Bogusky's FearLess Cottage carries this text: "The recipients of this card have demonstrated that they are capable of pushing aside fear in pursuit of doing the right thing."


: I

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  • 2 months later...

Alex Bogusky as Ralph Nader: What Do You Think?


Months after leaving behind the 20-year ad career that made him famous, Alex Bogusky is officially starting a new one as a consumer advocate.


As announced via Twitter and a new website yesterday, he's going from the self-created post of "chief insurgent officer" at ad holding company MDC Partners to being the lead "insurgent in the new consumer revolution."




Just what does that mean? :mellow: Mr. Bogusky -- in a way not so unlike how Ralph Nader began rallying against unsafe cars 50 years ago -- wants to be the one to lead a new civic consumerism. While there have been plenty of hints of Mr. Bogusky's growing activist leanings -- in blog posts and books such as "The 9-Inch Diet" -- the website he unveiled yesterday was a clear sign he hopes to turn that activism into a business platform, and perhaps a legal-reform platform.


Said the site:


"The fact is we all consume to live. The food we put in our bodies, the clothes we put on our backs, the devices we use to do our jobs, and the energy that goes into everything we touch. Together we consume A LOT. Yet our expectations are too low. We think we have to accept the bad that comes with the good. The pollution that comes with the energy. The unsafe working conditions that come with low prices. The toxic materials that come with convenient packaging.


In a manifesto announcing the new venture, Mr. Bogusky even alluded to the Nader comparison: "What does this make me? I think I'll be a consumer advocate for a while. Alex Nader or Ralph Bogusky? I'm not sure a former advertising executive is allowed to become a consumer advocate, but I plan to give it a shot. This is still America after all."


The revenue model for Fearless appears to be a multi-pronged approach of speaking engagements, consulting, freelance design projects and e-commerce -- selling American Apparel tees and books Mr. Bogusky has penned through the site. Calls to Mr. Bogusky's office at the Fearless cottage in Boulder, Colo., were not returned.


He's not doing it alone. He's brought on a few contributors to a blog and is assembling a "FearLess Force" of artists, filmmakers, graphic designers, web developers, art directors, writers, photographers, illustrators, researchers and planners to work on what, for now anyway, appears to be pro bono efforts. One of the first projects is a crowdsourced effort to rewrite and modernize the Consumer Bill of Rights John F. Kennedy established in the early 1960s.


By all accounts, Mr. Bogusky had a highly successful, much-envied, ad career. What are your predictions for this career move? Is it hypocritical for him to go from making millions while at Crispin, helping sell fast food to consumers, to now rallying against unhealthy foods or toxic products? Or is such an adjustment in thinking an evolution to be admired?




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I don't think Alex is done working in advertising, he's just done working for advertising agencies. I would guess that he's going to continue posting to his blog, filming episodes of Fear Less, and doing speaking engagements. He's going to continue the work he started as Chief Creative Insurgent of MDC, trying to influence corporations to do business in a more transparent, sustainable way, and he's going to continue to influence people in advertising to think bigger, push harder, and act out of love. And I can't wait to see what he does next.

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Meni se cini da je ovde relevantno vise momenata.


Prvo, gospodin dolazi iz sveta u kojem su ideja o proizvodu i sam proizvod konkretizovani do skoro krajnjih granica, te samo u slucaju dovoljno fleksibilnih klijenata ta ideja o proizvodu i sam proizvod mogu biti dooonekle pomerene od strane angazovanih agencija, ako za taj pomeraj postoji argumentovano opravdanje.


U ovom slucaju, gospodin ima maglovitu ideju o proizvodu i nekonkretizovan proizvod.


Nekako ga sve vreme zamisljam kako u britanskom Apprentice-u drzi prezentaciju, mlatara rukama po vazduhu i viche: "Bash je super, bash je super", a lord Sugar cutke drzi glavu u dlanovima i zabrinuto ga gleda.


(Da ne bude zabune - pod "proizvodom" podrazumevam robe, usluge, ideje i "imidze", dakle, ne samo neshto shto "moze da stoji u rafu ili izlogu".)


Drugo - pokusacu da objasnim na razlicitim primerima.


Dan-danas se zna ko je smislio - tacnije, izumeo - kolica za supermarket i zgrnuo besne pare na tom svom izumu.


Zna se i ko je "otac" darvinizma (shto li se tako zove? :) ), ali i ko je svojim teorijama prethodio i potencijalno uticao na tog "oca".


Zna se i ko je naslikao Gerniku, a ako neko zeli da zna koja imena stoje iza AES+F-ovih kolektivnih umetnickih ostvarenja - lako je saznati.


U samom advertising-u - i tu, istovremeno sa drugim, dolazimo do treceg i cetvrtog - najkasnije od DDB-ovih istorijskih kampanja prisutna je sledeca cinjenica: kada se govori ko je konkretno zasluzan za konkretnu kampanju, uvek se pojavljuje vise imena.

Neko od tih imena je kreativni direktor.

Neko od tih imena je art direktor.

Neko od tih imena je kopirajter.

Neko od tih imena je graficki dizajner.

Vremenom, prikljucila su se i imena reditelja.

I autora muzike.

I digitalnih animatora.

I web-divelopera.

I web-dizajnera.

I game-dizajnera.

I social media prakticara...

Itd, itd...

(BTW, tu negde su se prikljucila i imena account planner-a...)


I to su druga, treca i cetvrta stvar.

Vredovanje licnog stvaralastva je vazan i snazan motivator.

Zato je uvek vazno obezbediti i mehanizme ustanovljavanja i vrednovanja licnog doprinosa kolektivnom stvaralastvu.

To je narocito vazno za vidove stvaralastva kojima su potrebne razlicite ekspertize, a samo ostvarenje ne bi ni moglo da postoji da u proces nije ukljucena vec i samo jedna od njih, ma koliko koraka da je ta pojedina ekspertiza tehnicki "udaljena" od prvobitne "velike ideje" ili "kreativnog koncepta".


Cini mi se da ovde, za sada, imamo samo guranje u prvi plan imena gospodinovog.

I da ne postoji nista drugo osim "guruizma kreativnosti" u nekakvu "dobru svrhu", ne bas najbolje objasnjenu.


I, za kraj - ne mogu da se setim da l' sam ranije vec place-ovao ovo, ali cini mi se relevantnim za koncept celog projekta - zavrsne reci Kunstlerovog predavanja na NED-u:


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