Chuck Porter, B.A. '67, was named one of America's most fascinating entrepreneurs for 2005.
Drive, creativity, and kindness
Chair of lauded advertising agency gives back to Journalism School
by Jodi Auvin
From M, summer 2006
The name Crispin, Porter + Bogusky (CP+B) may not be familiar, but if you've been motivated by the Do campaign for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota or marveled at the sight of Mini Coopers strapped on top of SUVs, you've seen a few examples of the Miami-based advertising agency's work. A consistent track record of cutting-edge ideas and guerilla marketing tactics has turned the once-small Coconut Grove firm into a creative powerhouse and one of the most awarded agencies in the country. Chuck Porter, chairman of CP+B, is a 1967 graduate of the Journalism School. But the 60-year-old Minnesota native never intended to go to the U or to study advertising. "I was accepted at Duke and had been assigned a room and a roommate," explains Porter. "At the last minute, I decided to go to the University and study law. Then I took a class in advertising, which was much more fun--and easier--than law." After graduating, Porter moved to Miami and worked as a freelance writer for 17 years. "It was terrific," he says. "I was lucky and developed a good reputation in the travel business and worked on almost every airline account. But when I turned 40 and my wife was pregnant again, she said 'perhaps for this child you should stay home.' Sam Crispin, founder of a local agency, had been asking me to join his firm for several years. I finally said yes."
Closer to tomorrow
Because scholarships and fellowships play a key role in changing the lives of students, they continue to be the University's top fund-raising priority. Through April, close to $125 million had been raised toward the Promise of Tomorrow Scholarship Drive goal of $150 million.
Some 333 gifts have qualified for the President's Scholarship Match, which doubles the payout on new endowed scholarships of at least $25,000. New endowed fellowships are also matched, though the 21st Century Graduate Fellowship Endowment.
Nearly 6,000 U students now receive scholarships or fellowships--an increase of 1,043 students since the drive began.
In its early years, the agency had about 40 people on staff and a number of small accounts. Today, CP+B employs 450 people, has annual billings upwards of $500 million, and boasts a prestigious list of clients, including Burger King, Miller Lite, Sprite, Virgin Atlantic Airways, and Volkswagen. Advertising Age named CP+B agency of the year in 2004. And in 2005, Inc. named Porter one of America's 26 most fascinating entrepreneurs. Individuals selected exemplify the drive, creativity, and enthusiasm of American business and spanned the entrepreneurial spectrum, including Martha Stewart, Richard Branson, and Michael Dell. Porter's philosophy of not managing people in traditional ways--or, as Inc. put it, "for verging on reckless"--earned him a place on the roster. "I don't think there's a secret to our agency's success and maybe that's part of the secret," says Porter with a shrug. "This is the only agency job I've ever had and the same is true for Bogusky. We've always made it up as we went along. We do a certain kind of work and approach it in a certain kind of way. And we try to be smart and selective about those we work with. People who come here say it's different." One example: the satellite office the agency is opening this summer in Boulder, Colorado. Most agencies open satellite offices to service client needs; CP+B is doing it for employees. "We built the agency in Miami because it was a cool place to live," states Porter. "But as we've gotten bigger and are recruiting more employees, we've felt the need to offer another lifestyle choice. Not everyone loves Miami or wants to deal with hurricanes. So we looked for a place that's the opposite of Miami." Porter recently made a gift of $25,000 to the J-School; funds will be used to provide scholarships to students in advertising. "I've been very lucky," he says. "I made my gift for the reasons that anyone does. It makes me feel good to help the school. I look around and there are all sorts of causes and institutions that I have a fondness for. The U of M is one."