Monday, March 10, 2008

Crispin Figures Out the Web a Little Late

Crispin Porter + Bogusky is an agency other agencies love to hate. They get all the press and are allowed by their clients to do things no other agency is permitted, such as not tracking billable time. They do, however, create buzz-worthy work.

Their most famous example is Subservient Chicken, a site that took the Internet by storm in 2004 and catapulted CP+B to fame. Many in the business snickered about how Crispin didn't even program the site (that was done by The Barbarian Group), and some felt the site, which featured a guy in a chicken suit following commands entered by site visitors, did more to promote Crispin than their client, Burger King.

I've respected Crispin's work, their process, and their results, but I often felt Crispin's style got a little repetitive, shooting too often for shock and weirdness rather than usefulness and functionality. But, it appears Crispin is getting the religion now, according to an interesting article on "The new 'viral' is going to be a business solution for clients,"says Interactive Creative Director Jeff Benjamin.

Their most recent work isn't likely to generate 500 million visits as did, but it will drive brand loyalty and improve brand image more than a dancing fellow in a bad costume. Their latest Web project is Domino's pizza builder, which lets users craft their own pizza online, name it, then have it delivered to their door. It's brilliant!

The article mentions other interactive agencies and how they once created functionless microsites but now strive for features "that gives people time back," as noted by Nick Law, CCO for North America at R/GA.

As a person who's been involved with the Internet for a decade, it's a bit funny to read breathless accounts of this new focus on usability. For example, it's noted The Barbarian Group is now starting "with the customer in mind, helping them navigate quickly through an experience or to worthwhile content." Doesn't it seem to you that starting with the customer in mind has always been the way to success on the Internet or in marketing (or anything else in business, for that matter)?

Better late than never, it seems Crispin and other interactive agencies are finally figuring out they're in the business of driving their clients' business, and not merely creating traffic or buzz. Says Crispin's Benjamin, "The days of making funny things that may or may not have an effect on the client's business are ending."

Hear hear! But as far as I'm concerned, those days aren't ending; they died and have been buried for years!

Check out the entire Adweek article here. It's a great read.

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