Lessons From Alex

This month, the Variety Playhouse in Atlanta will host folks like Ani DiFranco, Shawn Mullins, and Suzanne Vega. But last night, it hosted Alex Bogusky, in an Atlanta Ad Club Event.
Going in, I thought this would only perpetuate the dude’s so-called “rock star” image. (I’ve always said there are no rock stars in advertising.) But it turned out to be a nice, informative evening. The whole thing was set up like an “Inside The Actors Studio” episode, with Patrick Scullin of Ames Scullin O’Haire as the host.
Alex talked, showed a few case studies, and took questions. He’s sharp, dryly sarcastic but fairly mellow as a speaker. He didn’t turn Whoppers into wine or drop the secret to the universe. But he did talk about the CP+B process and how he, along with Chuck Porter, took a small shop and turned it into what it is through trial and error.
I can’t summarize everything he said, and I’m sure he’s said it at other places, but basically, CP+B likes ideas that can turn into PR opportunities, even to the point that creatives pitch ideas in the form of press releases. They look to hire people that have talent but have been ground down by other mediocre agencies (hey, maybe I have a chance). They keep their AEs very involved, and AEs are critical to any account’s success but don’t let them kill work.
If there’s a lesson here, it’s that great agencies reflect their leaders. Seems to me Alex didn’t have a master plan, he just knew the kind of agency he wanted to lead and the kind of work he wanted to do. So if you interview at a place that wants to become the “next Crispin,” forget it. You can’t replicate their culture.
All in all, it was an evening well spent. A good reminder that the people at the top of the agency set the tone for everything that goes on at the agency, which is something to always keep in mind.



About Dan Goldgeier

Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. Dan is also a columnist for TalentZoo.com and the author of View From The Cheap Seats and Killer Executions and Scrubbed Decks.