Gaining an Agency Edge by Using Lean and Agile Development in the Creative Process

AMA CEO Russ Klein talks agency insights with Alex Bogusky, co-founder and chief creative engineer at Crispin Porter + Bogusky

AMA CEO Russ Klein spoke with Alex Bogusky, co-founder and chief creative engineer at Crispin Porter + Bogusky, about the latter’s foray back into the agency world, how to combine data with creative and how agencies can survive and thrive.

On returning to the agency world

Bogusky said that during his time away from the agency world, he didn’t pay much attention to the field — which he now says may have been to his benefit. “I never was a fan of advertising,” Bogusky told Klein. “I was a fan of doing things in culture. I was a fan of making change.” What made it through his own filters were campaigns from unique start-ups like the Squatty Potty. He said it was a lesson in learning what sticks for the audience, rather than looking at the industry through an insider’s lens.

On combining data and analytics with creativity

Bogusky was on the front lines of ushering in digital advertising, and Klein asked whether he thought data and analytics were taking over creative decision-making. Bogusky said agencies must engage in the gathering and analysis of data, but that he’s personally putting more energy into drawing data from earlier stages of the creative process, rather than waiting for a nearly finished product.

“Anytime you get too dogmatic about anything and too fundamentalist about anything, it’s a problem,” Bogusky said, emphasizing the power behind computers and people working together, versus one or the other.

On the future of the agency model

The classic agency model isn’t quite working, Bogusky said, as companies want to bring quality up and costs down. “You have to have process, automation and use of data so that you can more quickly train earlier-stage staff, more junior staff to compete against that high-end talent you used to have to hire,” he said. The goal is to not simply say, “Trust me,” but to back it up with data and automation.

“I believe in bringing lean and agile development to the creative process and using tools and technology to do that,” Bogusky said. He recommended running experiments and getting comfortable with being wrong, because it leads right to the next thesis and experiment. “Stepping stones to milestones,” Klein said.