Burgerman Bogusky Flips and More Late-Summer Follies

It’s been an interesting, albeit slow, few August weeks round these parts, so here’s a bit of a Creativity-related fill-in.

One of our favorite publishers, PowerHouse books, sent by a catalog for its new season, which, strangely, included a huge, front-and-center push for a book on small-plates portion control written by none other than Alex Bogusky. If you failed Know Your Advertising Creatives 101 (and no shame in that–certainly other coursework has greater world relevance) Mr. Bogusky is the Chief Creative Officer of Crispin, Porter + Bogusky, the Miami-based ad agency whose clients include Burger King and Domino’s. The evangelical pizza business is new, but CP+B’s relationship with Burger King is going on a decade, in which time they’ve revitalized the marketing, with a rock-n-jock approach hitting hard in the agency’s breadbasket, the young adult male. Masterminding the resurgence of a fast food giant by making over-consumption cool through CGI, by tying it to masculinity and using little people is all well and good. As a marketing initiative, making the King famous and selling $3.2 million Xbox games at $3.99 per is smart as hell. We awarded a Creativity Award to the King Games last year and when I spoke to Bogusky he talked about watching his son’s “relationship” with the King grow, and how “It’s really sinister to use advertising on your own children like that.” Of course, in the Bogusky household I’d imagine the kids are pretty well-fed and, considering dad’s writing a diet book and is a big fitness guy, not eating shitty fast food much. But I think of the 3,299,997 other copies of the games that went out the door around the 2006 holiday season and see families that maybe can’t afford the great, $50 Xbox games all the time, and eat Burger King for dinner three or four times a week, and are sinking into this marketing-consumption cycle that sees their children spending more time with the Burger King, on the table, on the TV, as a playmate, than maybe their own parents who would arguably have good eating sense were they around. (“This chasm [which examined marketing and advertising studies conducted between 1992 and 2006 and looked at foods and beverages marketed to blacks vs. whites] creates an environment that contributes to obesity.“)

But scenarios like those, which doubtlessly play out around the country, aren’t really germane to this situation. Not surprisingly, aside from issuing a tacit ‘people can eat anything they want as long as it’s in a controlled portion’-type statement the CP+B was mum on the issue, allowing the HUGE NEWS (or huge rumor reported as news) that Jerry Seinfeld was starring in the agency’s upcoming Windows efforts to overshadow the potential clusterfuck of having your creative Moses start to turn against the brands he built. (Seriously, one person I was speaking to about the affair called it “The biggest Fuck You to a client in the history of advertising.”) The clients themselves heard about it from us, and Ad Age reported BK as being “blindsided.”

Will it stick? Nope. I don’t think there will be any negative repercussions as far as Crispin’s clients are concerned. Which is surprising. While the general public doesn’t seem to give a damn, Initially I thought the story had legs, at least in the business community. But many thought the thing was a stunt. It’s not–I’ve seen an advance layout. Behind the Seinfeld thing it didn’t really go anywhere, other than a few of the ad blogs, Gawker, and short bits in U.S. News & World Report and The Globe and Mail and a web comic. If the Seinfeld thing, which sounds like a rumor, was a plant to pull attention from the book, congratulations are in order for a hand well played. But it seems like the whole situation’s being chalked up to a zany ad guy. Those creative types are so unpredictable! What will he do next!

I’ve got a suggestion. Miles Nadal, the CEO of Crispin’s holding company, MDC, says he’s already “pre-ordered 100 copies.” The contentiousness of the agency’s relationship to its holding company (as MDC’s #1 prize) was the subject of a few paths of conjecture re: the book, but it’s good to see Mr. Nadal wants to either to boost Mr. Bogusky’s sales or help out a lot of fat friends. But one CEO’s buddy ego donation doth not an Amazon bestseller make. To truly leave its Sales Rank of 417,599th in the rearview, this book needs to be made famous, CP+B style. For that, I propose a reality TV/Web show, featuring the Bogusky family ascribing to the 9-Inch Diet while only eating foods from CP+B clients. We’ll chart their progress over two months to see if this revolutionary exercise in self control can counteract the abuse of all the junk in Burger King and Domino’s.

you mean the big 'Burger King is making kids fat' conspiracy?
you mean the big 'Burger King is making kids fat' conspiracy?

In other news, 42 Entertainment finally was able to speak about the Dark Knight ARG campaign it ran for over a year. And I filled in for two sessions of Creativity’s top-notch video show, Top 5. If you haven’t already, you can sign up to have the podcast beamed to your iTunes every Monday.

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