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Last Friday, advertising icon Alex Bogusky announced his official retreat from the industry that made him, and the brands and brand ambassadors he helped share with the world, a household name…for those who work in advertising, that is. Anyone who does knows advertising is one of those industries that create its own superstars, and we’re not talking the Brad and Angelina kind.

If you are a copywriter, you know the name David Ogilvy, and if you are a designer, Philip Starke you’ve studied, at least enough to discover you found his modern minimalism boring and his architecture pandering to the hipster masses. I actually like Starke, but that’s not the point.

Advertising is a big deal. Despite upheavals and transformations, shifts from traditional to online outlets, less security in tried-and-true methods like TV commercials, and drastic cuts in spends across the board, the business and art, at least for now, seems here to stay…with or without Bogusky leading the fray.

If you don’t know Bogusky, his story, while incredibly interesting for those who appreciate this sort of thing (read: ad nerds, historians, wannabes, business minded creative types, etc.), is summed up relatively simply:

1. Boy is born
2. Boy meets girl
3. Boy realizes he needs a fast car and sizeable bank account to win girl
4. Boy discovers his way with people, human psychology, and yes, words
5. Boy turns into advertising mogul overnight, and becomes the man we know today as Alex Bogusky…gets the car, bank account, and definitely the girl…for starters

Just kidding. Sorta. I’ll bet 1-4 are relatively on the mark, though I haven’t studied his autobiography (is there one?) or been privy to a phoner with the ad mogul, otherwise known as “Ad Jesus” to insiders, but the story behind the agency he led for years is a roller-coaster ride of ambition, passion, power, and success, and is worthy of much more than the few words next to #5 above. If you want to learn more, I recommend these links:

1. Embrace For Impact: Alex Bogusky Discusses Social Media… [huffingtonpost.com]

2. 2008 Agency of the Year: Crispin Porter + Bogusky[creativityonline.com]

3. Can Alex Bogusky Help Microsoft Beat Apple? [fastcompany.com]

The iPad: communications device or advertising funnel?

The biggest thing to know about Bogusky is he is known for a style or method of approaching a campaign and in theory, has taught his disciples well enough so they can act in his stead and bring the industry more of the same stuff for which Bogusky became synonymous: innovation, inspiration, and success. Still, as one who works in online advertising, and enjoys looking back at the Golden days à la Mad Men , I can’t help but view Bogusky’s exit as a bookend to an era.

Yes, we know it’s all going online and every marketer must integrate (integrate, integrate). The word “integrate” is used so often in so many contexts these days, I’m not exactly sure what it means anymore — it depends who you ask.

It’s not that change is new to advertising; but does anyone else see Bogusky’s departure as a bookend, milestone, turning point?

Whether or not the creative legend intended his resignation to mark the end of an era, it’s tough not to point and stare as the dust settles in Ad-Jesus’ wake, if not simply to make the point that times have (officially) changed. Now what?

The shift in the way we consume marketing messages — via Facebook updates, word-of-mouth sent via text and Twitter, and slick viral marketing campaigns that look like music videos — has blurred the line between entertainment and advertising. What was once tied to specific experiences, such as watching TV or listening to the radio, has become so tightly integrated with out everyday lives it is difficult to escape, and we’ve learned not to mind.

In the absence of Bogusky and his creative genius, will we see another individual emerge as the industry’s flag-bearer or in today’s world of social media, mobile technology, and real-time communication, will it be the voice of the crowd that reigns supreme?

Do moguls still matter, or do people and the way we connect with one another matter more? Post your thoughts below!


4 thoughts on “Bogusky Leaves the Business…Now What?
  1. mike stone says:

    Come on… he isnt THAT creative. So you could type in… build a fort with the couch cushions, and the online subservient chicken would do it. Who hasnt thought of that to market burger king! It’s the oldest trick in the book man!

    1. Yeah, he’s no big deal. 🙂

  2. Kennard says:

    Ad Jesus and Philip Starck mention in the same article! The Starck Louis Ghost Chairs, and all their lack of visual weight goodness have a solid position on my list of one-day-ill-be-able-to-afford-items.

    1. The unbearable lightness of being…a chair

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