Treat unoriginality as a sin
Just about the only ideas that CP+B remains steadfastly closed-minded about involve uninspired (and uninspiring) thinking. "Thirty-second spot" is a phrase that's routinely met with harsh criticism, while "nobody's ever done this" wins props.
Find genuinely smart people wherever you can
When Dave Schiff applied for a copywriting job two years ago, about the only credentials the fully tattooed former "sales-order taker" for a bicycle company had for an ad job were an infectious personality and a razor-sharp wit. For CP+B, that was plenty. Schiff's now a thriving associate creative director.
Give people something to talk about
CP+B partner Alex Bogusky says the worst thing you can do is put out work nobody talks about. Any reaction — positive or negative — is better than nothing.
A certain productive paranoia courses through the agency that goes something like this: You're at your most vulnerable just at the moment you've scored big. Plus, agency chairman Chuck Porter warns, "Arrogance is classless. There's a big difference between saying, 'We're good' and saying, 'We're better than you.' "
Trust your gut
You know you've hit something good, Bogusky says, when you have that feeling that you want to jump up and show everyone your idea. You'll also know if it draws Bogusky's somewhat annoying giggle, which he affectionately calls his "cartoon-character laugh."
A version of this article appeared in the April 2005 issue of Fast Company magazine.