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?

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