As they try to diversify beyond the 30-second spot, agencies, in addition to getting digital, are vying to be the next place to source hot products. Ownership is the watchword on Madison Avenue, with agencies wanting stakes in everything from intellectual property to marketers themselves.
There are now many shops that take it one step further by creating products themselves out of thin air. These agencies are pouring more and more time and money into product development that has nothing to do with client brands. Some even sell entire lines of merchandise and create viable businesses such as stores and eateries.
Indie agency Mother is, well, the mother of ad land’s product-making set, hatching numerous kitschy projects including books, shopping bags, candies and comics. But there are soon to be more; several agencies have told Ad Age they’re in talks to launch their own brands.
But while agencies are well-qualified -- after all, their lifeblood is coming up with ideas -- no shop has yet come up with a mass-market hit. And a lot of this stuff exists at the level of novelty -- a diversion and way for agency hands to try something new.
Since success hinges on nailing a big distribution channel, we're closely watching ventures such as Anomaly's shaving product, which launched in Target stores. Below are some ventures that have hit our radar -- and there may be others we haven't heard of yet.