Tuesday, September 17, 2013
My Alex Bogusky Story
I met Alex Bogusky in 1997.
Alex, for those of you not in the business, lit up the world and put Crispin Porter & Bogusky on the map with breakthrough campaigns for Burger King, Mini and Coca Cola.
We had both been selected to serve on the judging committee for the OBIES, the awards given by the Outdoor Advertising Association of America.
He was quite younger than me. And moved about the room with ease and not an insignificant amount of charm. It's easy to see why he had such success pushing clients to take risks. He also knew good work when he saw it. Or in the case of the 1997 OBIES, when he didn't see it.
At the conclusion of the first day of judging, Alex convened all the judges and announced, "I don't see anything here worth awarding. I say we give out NOTHING."
To an extent, he was right.
There was a lot of crap on the table.
But to a greater extent, Alex was wrong.
We weren't there judging films or books or anything that merited more than 30 seconds worth of anybody's attention. We were judging advertising.
Outdoor boards, no less. Otherwise known as visual highway pollution. Our job was to find the least offensive work amongst all the offensive work.
I countered Alex's proclamation, "Dude (it seemed appropriate to call him Dude), these folks flew me, my wife and my 6 month old daughter all the way to NY. They put us up at the SoHo Grand Hotel, and they paid for last night's dinner at Raoul's, by the way the steak and pom frite were excellent. I'm not going to turn around and tell them all the work sucked. We couldn't find anything worth awarding. Sorry. Here's my hotel tab."
And on the next day, though he mumbled and grumbled about the shit show he was presiding over, Alex finished the tabulations and announced we were able to come to a consensus. I breathed a sigh of relief, knowing we had completed our task and that I wouldn't have to go ten rounds with the finance woman from the Association. Particularly as I had plowed through the minibar's $15 cans of cashews and the fancy imported Indian ales.
I can't tell you who went home with the 1997 Royal Grand Supreme Obie. But I can tell you the recipients of that prestigious award owe me.