Bouldergusky’s Rocky Mountain High

In their January issue, Creativity asked Alex Bouldergusky, “Why Boulder?”

I think because it’s very different from Miami, and we wanted to give our people a choice, an option. In some ways it’s completely opposite from Miami, and that’s good. Also, the Boulder/Denver area didn’t have an agency where we thought we would be stealing their home turf.

I believe Jonathan Schoenberg of TDA may have a slightly different read on this. I’ll call him and report back.
The article also reveals that the genesis of the idea to open a Boulder office came from the preponderance of hurricanes south Floridians have been dealing with, of late.
Bouldergusky will spilt his time between Miami and Boulder, but his kids will attend school in Boulder.
[UPDATE] I just got off the phone with Jonathan Schoenberg. He said he wishes he could be mad (for our sake), but he is not. In fact, he says he’s had a good rapor with CP+B for five years now. Also, that TDA just hired an Art Director from CP+B, and that members of the CP+B staff have, and will continue to speak at CU, where Schoenberg teaches.
Schoenberg said that this development is “good for Boulder,” like any great company coming to town would be. Lastly, he said he finds it humorous that one of Bouldergusky’s motivations for the move is to provide an “affordable” place for his associates to live.

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. Adpulp knows that as a Colorado copywriter I’m a sucka for anything involving this issue.
    There’s a lot of great shops here already. Great, but almost unknown.
    I’m hoping that Crispin’s presence will turn people’s attention to our lil ‘ol state. When Goodby was on the rise, everyone noticed Butler Shine, Venables, GSH, and so forth. When Fallon became famous, so did Carmichael, HuntAdkins, MW, you get the idea.
    In many ways, many of Denver’s agencies are much like Crispin about eight years back. Good, but geograpically isolated. I’m hoping the tide will turn.

  2. Jay,
    I think Crispin coming to Boulderado is a good thing for the Front Range ad market, and that your wishes will be realized to some extent.
    I also think Bouldergusky and crew have never heard of Integer, Sukle, McClain Finlon, Cultivator, Karsh + Hagan, Thomas + Perkins, Barnhart, Morey Evans, Henry Gill, etc.
    While a quote may always be taken out of context, it seemed to me there was a bit of dismissiveness in Bouldergusky’s statement.

  3. Maybe. I just think that there are no national players that have all the blue chip FOrtune 500s they’ve got on their roster. Our agencies want to be in the limelight, and I’d put my money on a few making it (I can see one or two getting featured in CA within four years). But I’d also bet that somebody still calling that out as arrogant.
    I’m actually a bit shellshocked by the industry looking for any chance CP+B to stumble. They are no doubt, media hounds. But all this backlash seems like the “cool” thing to do. Be a rebel. Lash out against the hot shop of the day. Why is that? Not everything they do is fantastic. Name any agency that hits home run after home run after home run.

  4. Carl LaFong says:

    Actually, Jay, I think Butler Shine and Venables Bell were started by ex-Goodby employees well after Goodby had already ascended to the upper strata of the creative firmament. But your point is well taken.
    As to being “shellshocked” by the industry backlash to Crispin, it’s really not all that surprising. I don’t think anyone — least of all me — would dispute that they consistently do stellar work. People are just sick of hearing about them all the time. Whenever someone down there has a bowel movement, it gets written up everywhere — including here.
    I daresay that the press is as culpable as the agency itself in this. As you rightly point out, “not everything they do is fantastic.” But you wouldn’t know from reading the avalanche of adulatory articles in “Adweek” and “Creativity.” They gloss over Crispin’s admittedly rare missteps like Coke Zero and never ask them the tough questions. Like, say, how an agency that rose to prominence with the “Truth” campaign can turn around and pimp for Burger King and Miller. Or are obesity, alcoholism and drunk driving just not that big a deal?
    As long as there are knee-jerk apologists and abject acolytes who automatically praise everything Crispin does as if they are the subjects in some Pavlovian experiment, then there will be others who continue to resist the hype.

  5. I just think they’re fun to make fun of.
    Strangely enough (and to their credit), I can’t say the same for Goodby, Wieden, GSD+M, Martin, and Fallon.

  6. I think what’s most bothersome isn’t the media onslaught that ballyhoos CP+B. It’s the waste of time everyone is putting against slamming them. That’s what bugs me. Blog after blog after blog after podcast (by the way, American Copywriter, you guys are a riot) after blog looks for ways to trash and bash them. Look at most blogs and the comments number is (0). Add CP+B to the equation and they skyrocket. E.Schenk’s had around 26 for the UnPimp Your Auto (which I like more than Fast).
    It just amazes me that we’ve got so much interesting content in blogs and yet we’re so obsessively focused on beating up the pretty boy in the industry.
    Yeah, they pimp Miller. So do a lot of other hot shops, two in the list my buddy Burn just mentioned. I, by the way, do it for a certain brewery in Colorado.
    I blame the press for spreading the germs. There a lots of cool shops around the planet, and they know they get a reaction out of CP+B. If people want to learn about cool shops popping up, talk about them.
    You reading this Adweek and AdAge? I want to know about 86 the Onions in LA. I want to know about la comunidad in Miami. I want to know about Creature in Seattle. Modernista in Boston. The list goes on. But so does picking on CP+B…

  7. Carl LaFong says:

    Great points, Jay. But to be honest, I don’t see all that much Crispin bashing on blogs. Many of the people who commented on the new VW work on both Adpulp and Ernie’s blog raved about it. (I didn’t care for the initial print component of the campaign, although I still haven’t seen the TV. Sounds great, though.)
    You want futher proof? Check out the excellent Ad-rag blog. Very little criticizing of Crispin there.
    But even if Crispin was being bruised and bloodied on a handful of ad blogs, I wouldn’t shed any tears over them. They still have the press in the palm of their hand. And anyway, I sincerely doubt they will lose any sleep worrying what insignifcant little pishers like me think about them. They create, we criticize. Who do you think gets the better end of that deal?
    I wholeheartedly endorse your call to the media to shine the spotlight on other, equaly deserving agencies. But rather than stepping outside their narrow confines, it’s so much easier for them to just crank out another article on a junior art director at Crispin. It’s the triumph of journalism by press release.
    I also wanted to clarify a point I made in my previous post. I don’t think “pimping” beer is in and of itself immoral or unethical. What I do find somewhat dubious is that this particular agency made its name crusading against the evils of tobacco marketing — then they turn around and use the exposure and expertise they gained on this account to hawk potentially harmful products like fast food and alcohol to the very same audience.
    Hypocrisy, hubris or chutzpah? You make the call.

  8. Also, great points. And the fact they see us pingponging about this is just reinforced reasoning to keep the CP+B media-machine going.
    One interesting sidenote. When it comes to adschools, VCU, Miami Ad School, Brainco, and similar institutions that focus solely on our biz come quickly to mind. For the four-year schools, CU-Boulder is on the rise. Big time.
    Given that CPB has aligned with Miami Ad School, I wonder if they will seek the best of the best Buffaloes for recruitment. I know TDA has taken many young promising students under their wing.
    Developments to come

  9. Jay,
    I don’t know where are you coming from. The mainstream media is IN LOVE with Crispin. Have you read Creativity lately? Whatever bashing happens on blogs is inconsequential by contrast.

  10. As bloggers, you guys do an excellent job of being objective. Journalism straight up. But the most negative commentary I view from your readers tends to bash that agency.
    I know mainstream media is married to Crispin. The point I wanted to make was that people are sick of hearing Crispin, but quite honestly, it’s the media delivering it. I would love to hear about all of these other up and coming shops, too. You, yourself, do a good job of seeking out the small agency gems no one else has heard of. People should focus on that. Help the little guy. The little trains that go.
    Creativity and other magazines does pretty much the opposite. Crispin this. Crispin that. That’s all fine and dandy, but it is a little overkill. And for them to maintain subscribers and readership, they’re going to recognize who everyone is talking about. What’s ironic about it is that all magazines are talking Crispin. So now that all articles are about that shop, that’s what everyone talks about. So more articles come out. And more talk. A vicious cycle.
    All I’m saying is that many responses I am viewing in my opinion are rather immature. I just expect more from advertising professionals. Am I off base with that?

  11. Not all our comments are from ad pros. Even if they were, I wouldn’t expect too much in the way of maturity from our peers, Jay. It’s a juvenile business in many ways.

  12. Carl LaFong says:

    True enough, David.
    Sure, some of the criticism Crispin receives from posters can be simplistic and mean-spirited. But I’ve also seen some thoughtful, incisive critiques that provide a balance and objectivity missing from the lap dogs in the mainstream press.
    Conversely, several of the posters who praised the recent VW work were hardly models of restraint and maturity. Like the guy who said, in effect, “if you don’t get these commercials, you should get out of advertising.” Or the delightful gent who told critics to jump off a bridge.
    Nice, huh?
    Of course, they are entitled to their opinions. I think it’s healthy to hear all points of view — especially when they are contrary to your own. More than once, I’ve reconsidered my own opinions when challenged by others.
    I pretty much agree with most of what Jay said in his last post — especially the part about how commenting on how the press kisses up to Crispin only generates more exposure. It is indeed a vicious cycle — which I am only serving to perpetuate with this post.
    Irony, thou art truly a cruel mistress!

  13. boulder is a village, i don’t get it, they just like to ski, self indulgence

  14. The spotlight itself should be the concern. There is much to gain from CP+B exposure, yet so much to reveal at the same time. Over the years our “Rocky Mountain Ad Scene” has become a secluded & uninviting entity. What this region needs is a resurgence of community… specifically the DAF. We barely have a local network anymore. Does anybody have a desire to reconvene or is this all just about the individual? CB+P is coming here because of the lifestyle. Yes, we are blessed with our geographical assets, but why not promote the fact that we’re happy to have already lived and worked here and take this as a platform to share our accomplishments and fortunes. Whatever CP+B perceives of the “competition” won’t matter, its the attitude of the lifestyle that will be identified. When they realize that we don’t even have an organized advertising federation it might contradict some of the expected lifestyle allure.
    -John F.
    Karsh + Hagan

  15. I heard that Boulder is one of the rising Creative cities in the US.
    (it’s the eighth question down)
    And Richard Florida says so too in his book.

  16. Piet Miller, Amsterdam says:

    Hmm…mister Bogusky is probably a great Mork from Ork fan.

  17. Diana Crystal says:

    Oh CP+B has heard of all the agencies Blum mentioned in his post.
    They didn’t become the most celebrated creative shop in the world for the past decade being dumb. And the level of the creative/press won’t go up for other shops in the Boulder/Denver area (besides TDA) unless they look deep within themselves and do really, really good work. Name another Miami shop (besides the little, all-hispanic 20-person agency La Communidad) that people notice… There’s no one because no one else does good work.
    Like Genius posted its about self-indulgence and quality of outdoor life for the CP+B gang.
    Crispin’s got balls. Big ones. And they’re not afraid to be punks and have fun. They openly admit they stole their way to the top. Afterall, who else was there to stop them? Its not that the Crispin work is that stellar, its just that entire industry got really mediocre. Goodby has being putting people to sleep for years. Comcastic is not so fantastic, HP is high-gloss execution and big agency nothing and the Saturn work feels like GM again. GSD+M does pretty faucet ads for Kohler, so-what cute-stuff for Southwest and forgettable headlines for BMW. Martin got bad the second they started doing the Geico work. And Weiden… Weiden… I can’t say anything bad about Weiden. Just bad luck timing with Nike and their sweat shops.
    Crispin will use the community talent. They’ll teach them to be good and how to win awards on an international-level. Be afraid of Crispin, very afraid. There’s more brain power there than you’ll ever know.