Onions are evil. At least when onions stand for corporate layers infested with middlemen and marketing formulas. So says a new Venice, Calif.-based creative collective, which has chosen to go by the rather unwieldy name of 86 the Onions. "In traditional advertising, by the time things get to who are supposedly the most creative people in the company, they're already told what they have to say and where they're going to say it," says CD and founder Chad Rea. "We're getting rid of those layers and putting creative at the top of the food chain." Rea, a SoCal native who's worked at Dallas' Pyro and Euro hotshops like Mother and KesselsKramer, is joined by Peter Vattanatham, Chris Brown, Jon Derum and Adam Solomon - an eclectic group of creatives and strategists from the advertising and entertainment worlds whose experience runs the gamut from international advertising for Hummer, Diesel, adidas, Reebok and Virgin Cola to TV writing for Friends and South Park. If the name isn't awkward enough, the company dubs itself a "Youth and entertainment brand communications collective."
But its aims are a lot sexier than that sounds, says Rea, and its client list, which includes Ubi Soft Entertainment, Dazed and Confused magazine, Art Center College of Design and Drinks That Work, is fairly promising, too. "It seems that everybody says they approach brands holistically, but then they have this trademarked marketing formula they apply to everything," says Rea. "And there seem to be a lot of companies springing up on the entertainment side that are trying to cross over into the advertising branding world - but they do it so wrong. Their idea of successful marketing is to put a Coca-Cola cup on American Idol."