Alex Bogusky on Ad Agency New Business

If you’ve ever had a dog, you’ll recognize this: talk to them using a certain tone of voice and they’ll cock their head to the side and look at you expectantly. They know you’re talking to them, and they know it’s important that they try to understand. Of course, understanding is hit-or-miss.

So it was for me listening to Alex Bogusky in April. I’ve read about Alex and Crispin Porter Bogusky and seen him quoted over the years, but this was the first opportunity to hear him speak, and his topic was new business. Remember, he’s a creative guy and not every creative guy speaks new business. Which, of course, was one of the first things out of his mouth…”Why the f__k did I accept an invitation to speak at a new business conference?”

Perhaps I’m not the only one in the audience who felt a bit like the dog. My analytical, logical brain was trying to wrap itself around the words coming from the mouth of someone who’s probably more creative in a day than I’ll be in a year.

That being said, I did boil his remarks down to something that’s thought-provoking to me. Here goes: Alex Bogusky on New Business in 50 words or less.

Definition: Cheating = Breaking The [Unwritten] Rules

Crispin Porter Bogusky’s success in new business was breaking the rules that the previous generation created to protect what they’d created. Don’t cheat if you don’t want to win. Cheating is breaking the rules. If you break the rules, clients will think you’re smart.

How do you cheat?

  • Identify the rule(s).
  • Break them.

As one of the rule-followers, implementing advice like this is hard. So I’ll be looking for more creative people to help identify the unwritten rules that should be broken.

How can you break rules to help your agency be more successful?


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