Was your mom a multiple serial monogamist? Then bring back those memories of daddy-for-a-day with “Gentlemen Callers,” a new scented candle featuring “a sensual orgy of men’s colognes.”
Sounds like an ad from The Onion, but it’s not. You can buy “Gentlemen Callers” and several other candles from Mother, a New York company that also sells comics, shopping bags and refrigerator magnets.
The thing is, Mother isn’t in the candle business, or the comics business, or the magnet business. It’s in the advertising business – a feisty, independent agency renowned for its creativity.
Creative firms like Mother, and Fast Horse for that matter, typically have been like the shoemakers’ children: great at marketing on behalf of their clients, yet lousy at doing the same for themselves. But that’s changing as a growing number of advertising and marketing agencies are beginning to use their brand-building knowledge to create new revenue streams for themselves:
- The Vancouver agency Taxi opened Taxi Café, selling Taxi-branded fair trade coffee and snacks.
- Brooklyn Brothers of New York wrote and published a children’s book, “Gently Elephant!” and created a line of chocolates, Fat Pig.
- Anomaly in New York created i/denti/tee, an e-commerce play that lets customers emblazon T-shirts with their favorite song lyrics.
Anomaly and other agencies also regularly partner with clients, taking partial ownership of a product or a cut of profits in lieu of regular fees. For example, Anomaly recently partnered with Target on Eos, a line of women’s shaving and skin products that launched in more than 100 Target stores.
I expect to see this trend explode in the coming years, as the Internet has leveled the playing field and agencies are looking to apply what they know to create new streams of revenue. And as this becomes more commonplace in the agency world, liberal arts majors like me would do well to get better versed in sexy stuff like trademarks and intellectual property.
Anyone got a line on some good counsel in this area?
-Jorg Pierach, Fast Horse