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Crispin Porter + Bogusky Plus Fuseproject ==?

Posted by: Bruce Nussbaum on September 28, 2005

One of the most significant deals of 2005 is the hot, Miami-based ad shop Crispin Porter + Bogusky’s acquisition of a minority stake in the hot, San-Francisco-based product design and branding firm fuseproject. This is a really big deal with important consequences for companies. Both firms are considered break-out creative shops in their respective fields. We are seeing the convergence of product design, branding, advertising and communication. Will there be more to come?

fuse and CPB worked closely together on MINI Cooper. CPB played all the right notes on viral marketing, blogs and internet marketing for the car launch while Yves Behar at fuse created the MINI lifestyle line of driving shoes, watches, bags—none of which has a MINI logo on it. What united them then was the drive to get to the core consumer emotion, build the brand off that emotion, and a deep belief that the product is the brand. Impressive.

CPB then went on to redo the Burger King brand, with the wild Subservient Chicken web site that racked up millions of hits. Fuseproject recently joined them on Burger King. CPB just won a huge $400 million contract from VW to revive the fading brand. It is their biggest challenge. Yves Behar is really good at brand strategy and translating that into real product by telling a great story about the product. When he revived the venerable Birkenstock brand, Behar was able to get to the emotional essence of the brand—the eco/ergonomic core of why its consumers loved the brand so much—and leverage that into different, more modern lines of shoes. fuseproject came in #2 in the Industrial Design Excellence Awards this year, tying with Design Continuum and right behind mighty IDEO. CPB has won a million awards in its own right.

One more interesting factoid: CPB’s parent, MDC, recently bought a minority stake in the design shop of the very famous and talented Bruce Mau (he’s Canadian, MDC is Canadian). So Behar will be collarborating with Mau on new products, branding and stragegy and both will be working with the edgy folks at CPB on communicating all this new great stuff over digital, broadcast and paper platforms far and wide. See what I mean by an important deal?

Reader Comments

Brand Guy

January 17, 2006 10:06 PM

Not sure about some of the commentary and facts in Nussbaum's writing. The footwear industry considers the Birkenstock/Yves Behar line of products a total failure. The development and campaign cost the company dearly. Did not sell... at all. Had no price tiering to get people to buy into the line (everythig was $250). It did not even bring their core consumer back with new interest. So it was a failure on all fronts except for a PR campaign for Behar. Not to mention the footwear was poorly executed and looked like a product designer designed them and lacked the subtle details that footwear demands, including fit.

Sme for Mini, same for Aliph, etc. etc. So what defines him as a "Brand Wizard?" Self Promotion Wizard for sure. He is one of the smoothest people in the game.

Ultimately, Behar makes "concepts". He designs for a niche of one for the most part. Which is fine. Very few of his products find their way to market and ultimately tank if they do (to date). Not sure what benefit CP+B has really acquired. He is a master of self promotion and hopefully this press will drive more business and better, more experienced designers to his team that know how to make real products. Also, CP+B might bring a sense of reality to his work. Time will tell. And so will sales.

Just about everyone in the industry who really understands product design and how to truly change the game and shift paradigms is asking the same question: "what has he really done?". And these are not the PR envious peers. These are the established voices who have nothing to prove. Not to mention his reputation is pretty sketchy in his home base of SFO and this is expanding quite rapidly.

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Want to stop talking about innovation and learn how to make it work for you? Bruce Nussbaum takes you deep into the latest thinking about innovation and design with daily scoops, provocative perspectives and case studies. Nussbaum is at the center of a global conversation on the growing discipline of innovation and the deepening field of design thinking. Read him to discover what social networking works—and what doesn’t. Discover where service innovation is going and how experience design is shaping up. Learn which schools are graduating the most creative talent and which consulting firms are the hottest. And get his take on what the smartest companies are doing in the U.S., Asia and Europe, far ahead of the pack.

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