This Man Is Not Alex Bogusky. And That's OK

How Andrew Keller is reshaping CP+B

He may have come up under Bogusky, but Keller’s brought a much different vibe to the agency. “It’s probably become, to a degree, more democratic,” says Porter. “Andrew is more of a consensus builder than I ever was or Alex ever was. I think we were maybe a little bit more … is there a pleasant way to say tyrannical?”

Keller’s much different management style is not lost on clients. “He empowers his people,” says Russell Weiner, CMO of Domino’s. “I love my creative team. I love them with Andrew, and the cool thing is, I also love them when he’s not involved.”

“I don’t think they bring a prepackaged solution to the table,” adds Jonathan Craig, CMO of Schwab. “We’re open to being pushed and finding new and creative ways to get our story out there.”

Keller still gets his hands dirty when it comes to creative, but his role is “less about creative now and more about the thing he’s always been the best at, and I think even better than Alex was: making sure that things strategically lined up and the things we were pushing against in culture made sense, versus just doing something frivolous or salacious,” says Rob Reilly, Crispin’s worldwide CCO.

It's a mid-October Friday afternoon in Boulder. Keller is batting around ideas with Danielle Whalen, the evp/group account director who handles CP+B’s work on Fruit of the Loom. The agency just two weeks prior launched a new campaign under the “Start Happy” tagline. The TV commercials feature a racetrack pit crew and a stuntwoman in nothing but their underwear—emphasizing the point that the right pair makes hard jobs easier.

So far, the campaign has generated 29 news stories and 106 million earned impressions. Traffic to the brand’s website spiked 294 percent compared to October 2012, and 234 percent compared to the 2013 weekly average. The agency is getting ready to start the next phase—a LinkedIn promotion that will send fresh underwear to some 25,000 people who have just changed jobs. There's more to come—Crispin has been digging into Fruit of the Loom's business, and is intent on helping it deliver an updated message across  all possible channels. “When we’re able to have this kind of relationship with a client where we’re doing packaging for them, and products for them, that’s much more like the Domino’s relationship,” he says. “When we get those relationships going they’re the most powerful relationships on both sides.”

The campaign is fun—and for a dusty brand, unexpected—but it doesn’t quite seem like a shoo-in for a Grand Prix. Lions, though, are not what matters most, Reilly says. “I’m more interested in when we get the chance to revive brands or fix a really hard problem like Fruit of the Loom or like Grey Poupon or give Schwab a whole new perspective… Doing those kinds of things may not win awards, that doesn’t mean the work isn’t great.”

In fact, the agency's cheekily overblown revival of Grey Poupon’s 1980's “Pardon Me” commercial this year earned an Emmy nomination (The prize ultimately went to Grey, for Canon). Perhaps counterintuitively, CP+B's work with mid-Western, consumer-packaged-goods giant Kraft (which owns Grey Poupon) been among its strongest performers at Cannes in recent years. In 2012, CP+B picked up a Titanium Lion for helping Kraft hire Ted Williams—a homeless, drug-addicted former radio announcer and internet sensation—as “the golden voice” of flagship Macaroni and Cheese. This year, CP+B won two Cannes Lions for Grey Poupon—one silver and one bronze, and the agency's only 2013 awards at the annual festival other than a creative effectiveness Lion for past work for now-departed client AmEx.

Staying in a business mind-set is essential considering the pitfalls always on the horizon in the agency world. Both Applebee’s and Arby’s have recently seen churn in their marketing ranks—the kind of thing that always puts an agency on notice. Keller says neither client has signaled the desire to launch a review—and he isn’t worried. “There are volatile moments of change potentially in the future, so it’s best to just keep doing great work and to keep looking for new business,” he says.

“They push the envelope a bit, but they also understand that at the end of the day it’s our business to sell sandwiches,” says Jennifer Dodson, Arby’s vp of advertising and content integration.

CP+B declined to comment on pending pitches, but sources previously identified the agency as a finalist, along with Arnold and Leo Burnett, for creative duties on, which spent some $40 million on media in 2012.

But the gaping hole in its portfolio isn’t a travel website—it’s an auto client. The shop that helped launch Mini in the U.S. had traded up to VW until late 2009 when it departed in search of more mainstream appeal. CP+B pitched Porsche but failed to pry the account away from incumbent Cramer-Krasselt.

Never say never, as a dogged Keller sees it. “We’re patient,” he says. “I think it’s going to happen.” 

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