Before Crispin Porter + Bogusky, Burger King went through creative agencies like shit through a goose.
In the 10 years before BK hired Crispin in 2004, the marketer had four lead creative shops: Ammirati & Puris; Lowe; McCann Erickson; and Young Rubicam. Crispin’s seven-year tenure seems like an eternity by comparison.
Ammirati handled the business from 1994 until 1999, when the shop merged with fellow Interpublic Group agency Lowe. A year later, however, the account went into review and landed—in early 2001—at McCann, another IPG shop.
McCann’s reign lasted just two years, with BK shifting the business—this time without a review—to Young & Rubicam in 2003. That move stemmed from connections that Y&R worldwide CEO Mike Dolan had with members of the board of then BK parent Texas Pacific Group.
Y&R’s ouster a year later also was abrupt, with Crispin parlaying its hot shop status and proximity to the Miami-based client. At the time, observers questioned how a major client like BK would change Crispin’s risk-taking culture. Instead, however, Crispin arguably influenced BK, making the brand hipper to its most frequent customers: teens and twentysomethings with big appetites and small wallets.
Unlike its predecessors, Crispin shifted away from the formula of focusing on single, anthemic campaigns to producing multiple efforts—with hits and misses—at the same time.
One campaign featured “The King,” a sometimes creepy mascot, who wore a plastic mask with a fixed smile. Another effort centered on a Whopper family in which the dad and son bickered back and forth while costumed as a Whopper and Whopper Jr., respectively. Yet another campaign used a guy with small hands to call out the size of BK’s sandwiches.
Memorable one-offs included the over-the-top spectacle of Hootie and the Blowfish’s Darius Rucker singing a parody of “Big Rock Candy Mountain” in a 2005 spot directed by David LaChapelle.
Beyond issuing a joint statement on Friday (March 18), BK and Crispin thus far have been mum about their divorce, which came six months after 3G Capital acquired Burger King Holdings for an estimated $3.2 billion. The deal led to the installation of a new CEO.
The hit to Crispin is significant, both in terms of revenue and the loss of a national creative platform. BK is said to be a top five client of the agency, representing nearly 10 percent of its total revenue. Crispin’s No. 1 client is Microsoft. Other big accounts include Domino’s, Best Buy and Old Navy.