Three-D printing is all the rage, but until now, most of the experimenting that's been done in the space has come from professionals, hard-core DIYers and brands.
Enter Droga5. The New York agency has been tapped by MakerBot, which manufactures the technology, to work on communications and advertising.
A big part of the goal, said Droga5 Vice Chairman Andrew Essex, will be positioning MakerBot's products as accessible to the average consumer rather than being confined to the realm of companies and professional users. "We're going to be focusing on the communications to articulate the point to people that this is now a consumer product," he said.
Some of MakerBot's employees have worked with Droga5 creatives in previous positions before, creating a "trust factor" that cemented the relationship, according to MakerBot VP-marketing Joey Neal. "The time seemed right to expand our marketing efforts and retain an agency like Droga5," he said.
"We're certainly aligned in vision," noted Mr. Essex. "They're looking at the innovative nature of their products and they want their communications to be as compelling. They have a product to sell and numbers to hit."
Part of the marketing strategy will center around the fact that MakerBot's 3D printing products are becoming relatively more affordable. MakerBot chief strategy officer Jenny Lawton told Ad Age last year that the technology was at an inflection point, thanks to affordable printers (the 'Replicator 2' costs just north of $2,000) hitting the market as consumers became more accepting of the technology.
This year, MakerBot introduced the Digitizer Desktop 3-D Scanner, which lets you create a 3-D model quickly, so the everyday customer can print. It is priced at $1,400.
Not cheap, of course, but MakerBot has differentiated itself in the market by offering printers and scanners at a fraction at competitors' prices. Consider that Stratasys' Objet printers start at around $19,000, for example, and are geared towards professional users.
MakerBot hasn't done any formal advertising yet, choosing to focus instead on its retail presence, PR and partnerships such as its work with NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, and a recent collaboration with Robohand, which creates 3D printed hands for disabled people.
It's not clear if MakerBot will also be working with Droga5's clients, which include Prudential Insurance, Motorola and Unilever. "It's a possibility," said Mr. Essex.