01 Oct 2002

Thinking Outside the Centerfold


With a slumping economy and an increasing number of communications outlets competing for diminishing advertising dollars, media companies have had to give ground to attract advertisers. A case in point was graphically evident last spring in Playboy magazine, when Miss June deferred her coveted centerfold position to a car, the new Mini from BMW. Behind this coup was a hot new advertising agency, Miami-based Crispin Porter + Bogusky (CPB), whose president is Jeff Hicks (MBA '97). With a client list that includes IKEA, Bacardi, Molson Beer, and Coca-Cola, CPB was named Adweek magazine's Agency of the Year for the Southeast region in 2001. Calling it “a year of maturation,” Hicks explained his firm's success by saying, “We uncovered a depth in the agency that had not previously been acknowledged inside or outside the shop” (Adweek, January 28, 2002). With annual billings of $225 million and some 160 employees working in Miami and a new Los Angeles office, CPB is now garnering plenty of attention.

But CPB had shown indications a few years earlier that it might become a force to be reckoned with. Its antismoking “Truth” campaign, which began in Florida in 1997, played to teenagers' natural rebelliousness and got them to thinking about how tobacco companies exploit them. Experts consider the “Truth” campaign to be one of the most successful social marketing efforts of recent years. Said Hicks, “The things we're most noted for have nothing to do with advertising and everything to do with advertising. We're this hybrid company that creates and distributes creative content designed to make brands famous.”


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