Fallon shut down its New York operations, and BBH has struggled for years to make its New York agency a powerhouse like its London headquarters. Even Crispin stumbled with its 2001 attempt to expand to L.A. Launched as a full-service West Coast branch, the agency was scaled back in three years time, with CP+B moving its accounts to Miami, leaving only some media buying functions in Venice. While the office won business and produced recognized creative, the expansion approach wasn't right for the agency, says Porter. "It's not like L.A. wasn't successful, but philosophically we had come to this place, you don't try to duplicate yourself," adds Bogusky. "We had the factory humming (in Miami). We knew what we could do and what we could do it really well."
The principals say the lessons they learned in L.A. will be applied to Boulder. "I would never do that again," says Porter. Boulder will not pursue its own client base, the way the dismantled office had, but will simply serve as another place for the agency to live and work. "I think it's all going to work," predicts Porter, who expects that eventually both offices will house equal staff numbers.
While Bogusky and about half of its 80 creatives have made the move, many have elected to stay in Miami, such as Paul Keister, Rob Reilly, Rob Strasberg. While Porter notes that many staffers serendipitously congregate at the Viceroy in L.A., he admits it'll be delicate balancing Boulder and Miami. The most important thing as the agency grows, he says, is that people "feel as much connected with the work as they always have."
In effect, the opening of the Boulder office is a way to invigorate the agency and keep it evolving. "Alex and I often talked about, 'What are we going to do to keep people excited?'" says Porter.
While building from scratch in Boulder would seem to be cost-prohibitive compared to adding to Miami, as they assessed the cheaper real estate and materials, "money very soon became a non-issue," says Porter, adding it cost less than the 22,000-square-foot Miami space they considered.
Boulder may have originated as a "whim," but the thought of relocating had been rattling around Bogusky's head for years. "I grew up there, been there my whole life," he says. "I want something a little different for my kids." His son Zeke is 10, a couple of years younger than when he remembers bonding with his father; and his daughter Nadia is 6. He worried his options were limited. "It was kind of depressing. I felt like I have the greatest job in the world, [but] am I going to give it up and move to Montana?" he says. "I know there aren't good advertising jobs in Montana."
Instead Bogusky decided to create his own reality. "It's fun to do things that haven't been done," he says. CP+B wouldn't even exist if it wasn't for the Mac and desktop publishing, he adds, which make working anywhere possible. "CP+B Shanghai could be next," he says. "But I'm more likely to create a 24-hour operation that works in shifts."
After the staff moves into its new office, Keller attempts another remote connection with Miami, as well as VW client Kerri Martin, and it is successful. A few days later BK clients Russ Klein and Brian Geis address both offices from the agency's Miami lobby. "We were already pretty connected, now that we're able to layer some of this technology on top of it, it's obvious what the future holds," says Keller. "It's fun pushing the boundaries of how a business works and do what we do."