The first time I heard Alex Bogusky’s voice was in 1991. I was running Creative Search in Raleigh, NC — a creative headhunting firm specializing in recruiting talent for regional creative agencies. He called me and declared that he wanted to build something special, an agency “that will ruin it for everyone” and that the only way for him to do it was to attract the “best rising talent” in the business (Alex referred to these relative unknowns as “mutts”) and he needed my help to do it. He was just named Creative Director of the fledgling shop with 18 employees in Miami and he was now empowered by Chuck Porter to act on this vision.
If I had a buck for every creative director who called me with this request, I could afford to spend the 4th of July in The Hamptons. But, there was something in this guy’s voice that was irresistible, like a force of nature. I bought it and devoted my commission-only time to help Alex build his agency. At first, it was a challenging sell. Hurricane Andrew hit Miami in ’92 and Tony Montana’s city was not exactly the creative epicenter of the country to begin with. Alex was undeterred. Hurricane Andrew forced Alex and Chuck to re-position the agency. They would get away from being a “South Florida shop.” They eschewed the typically lifeblood local accounts — tourism, real estate, hospitality. All that business was dead for the time being.
Instead, Alex pledged to follow his passion and chase smallish, but national outdoor enthusiast accounts, even if they were West Coast-based companies. He “lived” these brands (as did most of the staff at C&P). Creating great work for these outdoor brands enabled the agency to target hip, young demographic accounts — morphing eventually into the “kings of pop culture.” It was a 10 year ascension to the throne. The account trail went like this: Giro Helmets>Shimano>TRUTH>Mini>Burger King>Volkswagen>Microsoft. And along the way, I helped Alex recruit the best “mutts” in the country and moved them to the land of lox and bagels.
Alex recently delivered a keynote speech on new business at an Adweek-sponsored conference in New York City. The theme was “defying convention” and “breaking the rules.” I did not attend because I had a new business pitch, but I heard most of it before — from 1991 to 2001. Here are the YouTube videos of the keynote: