Feature

On the Creative Floor: Crispin Porter & Bogusky

You might expect what seems to be a half-built factory complete with 'prison transport' in Boulder, Colorado, to inspire fear rather than creativity in those based there. But it works for CP&B, Rob Reilly says.

Crispin Porter & Bogusky
Crispin Porter & Bogusky

Recently, GQ voted Boulder, Colorado, the 40th worst-dressed city in the US. And, while it may be true that the town is filled with flannel shirts, cargo shorts and guys wearing "mandals", the interior of the Boulder office of Crispin Porter & Bogusky looks nothing like a bohemian, free-love, communal compound. On the contrary, the office looks like an unfinished factory, half-built in a space that once lived as an indoor "footy" facility. Now, here is a little-known fact about me. I am a massive fan of the English Premier League and a die-hard, yet tortured, West Ham United supporter. So, being able to come to work in a place with a football history brings a bit of joy to me every time I walk through the door.

Ironically, the memories of past games are the only type of games you will find within the 70,000-square-foot, two-story facility. We do not have "foosball" tables. Or ping-pong. Or a basketball hoop. Or a video-game lounge. Not that I'm against them. It is just that we have always believed that the work should be the fun. And we'd rather people go for a bike ride or hike in the mountains when they need a break. We have an "extreme concierge" on-site so the bikes, skis and snowboards are always ready to go.

We don't have our past work on the walls. We have walls with new work in progress on them. Every project gets a wall where the entire agency can walk by and see the "bits and bobs" of ideas. (I stole that phrase from our UK executive creative directors, Matt Gooden and Ben Walker.) This isn't always popular with the creative folks. We are a fragile bunch, and having to put up our half-baked concepts sometimes can be frightening. But it is a critical part of our process. Ideas on these walls are tweaked until somebody with a gun says it's time to ship.

Speaking of Matt and Ben, they just moved into our new UK space in King's Cross. It is our sixth office, but we like to think of them all as just "floors" of one big CP&B office that happen to be spread across thousands of miles and multiple time zones. We often work together via nifty Polycom video screens or Skype because accounts are shared across multiple offices. For example, on a recent pitch, we had the account people in Miami, planners in Boulder and creatives in Toronto. It takes some co-ordinating, but it makes us all feel a little more connected. Which is important when you are trying to have the culture somewhat consistent as the agency grows.

I share an office with Jeff Benjamin and our chief executive, Andrew Keller. Often, we have three meetings going on at once. It makes no sense. And when each meeting tries to speak louder than the other, it turns into chaos bordering on utter stupidity. But we like being in each other's business. It makes us all accountable for everything, somehow. As for the creatives, they end up everywhere due to the number of employees that actually reside within the creative department. Planners, technologists, developers, producers and experience designers are paired up with copywriters and art directors. And, though the footprint of the office is big, there never seems to be enough space for groups to sit together. So you'll find couches in every nook, old wood bleachers refurbished with ass-friendly cushions, outside decks with recycled-plastic beach chairs and a cliche room full of bean-bags. Finally, there is a bus we designed like a prison transport that commuting interns like to concept in. (Not sure a prison bus is the greatest recruiting tactic, but we went with it, anyway.)

Now, all of this stuff is hardly unique. A lot of agencies have a space that people in other industries would kill to be in. But I find it odd that people would be interested to read about them. But we are. Maybe it is our voyeuristic tendencies as human beings. Or that we are secretly hoping our space is cooler than the rest. But I've been to Mother and I've seen photos of places such as Wieden & Kennedy and Bartle Bogle Hegarty. They are truly great spaces. But it is not why the work is great. The work is great because they have smart people who care about what they do and are clearly very good at it. The space, in the end, is irrelevant.

Of course, if you should ever find yourself on a layover in Colorado, feel free to come by and check out our space. We'll even come pick you up, as long as you don't mind prison buses.

Rob Reilly is the worldwide chief creative officer at Crispin Porter & Bogusky.