Agencies Go From Selling to Creating Products

Pouring Money Into Development, Some May Even Start Brands

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- 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 Mad Ave, 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 adland'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.

Has your agency gone from making ads to making products? E-mail Rupal Parekh at rparekh@adage.com and let her know.
CANDLES
AGENCY: MOTHER, NEW YORK
Mother Candles are the latest product launch from the agency, available in three scents -- "Smoldering Fare," "Fresh Perm" and "Gentleman Callers" -- for $9 each at Manhattan boutiques and at mothercandles.com
BOOKS
THE BROOKLYN BROTHERS
Written by agency founder and creative director Guy Barnett, "Gently Elephant," a children's book aimed at ages 4 to 8, will make its debut later this month, retailing in New York children's clothing and toy stores, and available on Amazon for $24.99.
72ANDSUNNY
"The Ghost of Bobby," a 138-page children's novel by 72andSunny's John Boiler and his friend and former Wieden & Kennedy colleague David Miller, is a spooky tale set in 19th century England. For ages 7 and up, it is available for $19.99 on Amazon and theghostofbobby.com.
MOTHER, NEW YORK
A collection of "miniature coffee-table books" was conceived in collaboration with BlueQ and sold globally starting last year in retail chains such as Urban Outfitters.
ATTIK
"Noise" is a design-focused book series. The newest edition, "NoiseFive," offers hundreds of pages of print design and is due out in bookstores this summer. Direct from the agency it will cost $80.
CHOCOLATE
THE BROOKLYN BROTHERS
Pink-foil-wrapped organic (or, as they say, oinkganic) Fat Pig milk chocolates are available online and in select New York shops.
EATERIES
A little over a year ago, Taxi Café opened its doors in Vancouver to sell Taxi-branded fair-trade coffee and snacks. Plans are under way for a second café to open in Toronto this summer.
MOTHER, NEW YORK
Andrew Deitchman, a partner at Mother, helped launch Dogmatic, a gourmet-hot-dog (think topped with pesto and wrapped in a baguette) stand in Manhattan in July 2006. It was successful enough that Mother has sold Dogmatic to an undisclosed buyer.
MERCHANDISE LINE
RED TETTEMER
Red Tettemer is planning a late-summer launch of a wide-ranging line of merchandise dubbed RedHanded and designed by the boys and girls at the agency. The sky is the limit, and mockups we've seen so far include lip balm, jewelry and skateboards*.
TEES
GIGANTIC MARKETING
T-shirts emblazoned with ironic lines such as "I'm being exploited by an ad agency" were designed by Gigantic Marketing and sold online via its website for $15.
FLASK
MOTHER, NEW YORK
Made of stainless steel, these cheeky flasks -- which can hold 236 milliliters of booze -- were created in January. The agency is hoping to retail them in stores for about $25.
MAGAZINE
SEED GIVES LIFE
LTD is a 3-year old lifestyle and culture magazine published by New York shop Seed Gives Life. Issued quarterly and sold in boutiques in New York, Paris and Amsterdam, Netherlands, annual subscriptions run $200.
SHAVING CREAM
ANOMALY
Eos (not to be confused with the embattled luxury airline) is an ultra-moisturizing wet/dry shaving cream co-developed by Anomaly that comes in scents such as vanilla bliss and pomegranate raspberry. The container is made of fully recyclable plastic; the product is not tested on animals and sells on Drugstore.com and in Target stores.
GENERAL STORE
MOTHER, LONDON
Lucky's Newsagents is a purveyor of the smokes, newspapers and more -- even artsy creations by employees of Mother, London, looking to peddle their wares for some extra sterling.




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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article featured a skateboard designed by Plan B Skateboards, not the agency.
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