If you’re not in the advertising world than the name Alex Bogusky might not be very familiar. However, if you watch the show Mad Men then you can think of Alex as the Don Draper of Generation X.  Fast Company Magazine has even proclaimed Bogusky as “the Steve Jobs of the Ad World”. Even though you might not be familiar with his name I’m sure you’re very familiar with the brands he’s worked on for example. Does the image below mean anything to you?

Burger King Creepy Bogusky

Well the creepy Burger King was a Bogusky idea. What about truth?


One of the most successful anti-tobacco campaigns in our country’s history was also Alex’s idea.

Coconut Grove_Crispin_Porter_Bogusky_headquarters

You might also be familiar with agency Crispin, Porter and Bogusky. CP+B  headquartered in Coconut Grove, FL still carries his moniker although he is no longer there and has since retired to pursue his passion of social causes.

On March 26 I had the privilege of sitting front row to hear Alex share his latest project which involved learning from the cardboard signs that homeless people use to solicit help. He felt that this is one of the most real forms of advertising because it comes from a real need and pain. From the moment he began I was enthralled and hung on to his every word. He isn’t afraid to be different and to tell it how it is.  I learned a lot from the 90 minute presentation but 3 key things stood out to me.

Alex Bogusky taught me 3 very important advertising lessons. Here they are:

1) Be Genuine.  Alex Bogusky attempted to create his own cardboard signs and get the homeless folks to “fly them”.  All refused – they said that it didn’t feel right and that the sign that they created were better. In the advertising world you can’t just jump in and create a campaign for a client without really understanding their struggles. It is necessary to step into our clients shoes and really experience what it’s like to be them. Then and only then would you be able to create advertising that will resonate with the brand and the audience.

2)  It’s not about the money. Alex Bogusky left Crispin Porter at the height of his career. He was offered a very lucrative offer to stay but instead turned it down in order to follow his passion of social activism. The advertising world is cut throat and can quickly make you into a money grubbing person. The problem with money is that it can sometimes keep you away from true happiness. Many people are only at their job for the paycheck. If that happens to be you, then realize that you will never truly be successful if you don’t step away from that to pursue your dreams. In fact, being unhappy and focused only on the money will in the long run make your work suffer because your heart isn’t really into it.

3) Your Ego will be bruised. In the advertising world you will pour your heart and soul into a campaign only to get rejected by the client. Get used to it! It’s going to happen and be ready for it. Not every one of your ideas will be received with open arms – even when you are at the top of your game. Sometimes this works out for the best because the client really knows that it might not work and sometimes the client is wrong. Whatever the case might be just don’t take it personal and don’t dwell on it. Learn to appreciate that rejection is part of the game and that everything happens for a reason.

Alex Bogusky and Jeff Zelaya

Alex Bogusky and Jeff Zelaya