You may find the fruits of Anomaly's next initiative sitting on your office desk, or perhaps in a museum or art gallery, rather than online or on TV. Already known for successful intellectual property creations such as Eos lip products and the cooking show "Avec Eric", the agency is now intensifying its sights on China and its environs through a joint venture with street-culture brand Mighty Jaxx.
The Singapore-based Mighty Jaxx, founded in 2012 by Jackson Aw, is a collective that creates limited-edition 3D art figures out of 2D sketches from street artists around the world.
The small but successful company has already seen sales in the "millions" out of its home turf, according to Anomaly founding partner Carl Johnson, but the plan is to use the new partnership to build the offerings out globally, with heavy concentration on the China market and additional expansion in the U.S.
Mr. Johnson said the venture is the latest attempt to build out the IP capabilities of its Shanghai office, which opened 18 months ago under the leadership of Elvis Chau.
So far the new partnership has yielded a Chinese e-commerce site for Mighty Jaxx, as well as the company's first retail location in Shanghai.
Mr. Aw said he met Anomaly through one of his company's fans, a collector of MIghty Jaxx pieces who had been working at the agency's Shanghai office. Mighty Jaxx ended up collaborating with the agency to create its mascot character, the Anomaly HotGod. That led to other collaborations for Beijing Design Week and Shanghai Design Week. "I think both parties fit each other perfectly, just like a puzzle, complementing each other in our skill sets," he said.
Although urban art toys and collectibles aren't exactly the latest fad here -- the U.S. for many years has already seen the success of companies like Kidrobot -- Mr. Aw said that China's love affair with such designer objects is still developing. "We've seen a growth of collectors from China I think because the concept of collective urban art is taking off," he said. Urban artists such as Futura and Gary Baseman just exhibited in Shanghai, showing the market's growing interest, he said.
Mr. Aw knows what it's like to start small. The company made its first figure, designed by Singapore artist Clogtwo, at a local convention in 2012. At the time, it sold only twenty pieces. "It did not deter us at all," said Mr. Aw. "I am proud to say that as of 2015, we've produced over 100 variant figures and have collectors in over 50 countries."
Anomaly sees potential to grow the business to include brand partnerships and to create art suitable for a range of budgets, including that of deep-pocketed collectors. "There's a difference between little toys and art, and there's a lot of scope in what this actually is," said Mr. Johnson. "Jackson has built a small and successful business already, and our job is to expand it. We like the idea, and we like him. If you do business with people you trust and people you believe in, then good things happen. The most important thing for us is him and his vision."
Equally important, the partnership with Mr. Aw brings with it security the agency hadn't seen in previous IP initiatives, said Mr. Johnson. "The reason we like this is that it's an existing business with millions of dollars of sales," he said. "Jackson owns his own manufacturing. Our job is not to learn how to do manufacturing. Our job is to do what we know what to do, which is pop culture, marketing and branding. He's a proven business man, and we are using our core skills to make this work."