Will Dan Wieden's Musical Ruler Sell? W&K London Plans to Find Out

Agency Launches a Range of Products, From Musical Instruments to Garbage Bags

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LONDON (AdAge.com) -- Wieden & Kennedy, London, the latest agency to get involved in the product-design game, is launching a range of co-branded products to be sold globally via traditional retailers and online.

Wieden musical ruler

The products have been created in partnership with design group Suck UK, which specializes in "products with a twist," and novelty-gift company Worldwide Co. In the U.K. the products are being sold in Urban Outfitters, Selfridges and Paperchase.

Agency founder Dan Wieden is featured on the packaging of one of the products, "Dan Wieden's play in a day" musical ruler, which is sold with a guidebook. It's a spoof on the iconic British guitar guide "Bert Weedon's Play in a Day."

"Pass the Salt" is a traditional-looking salt dispenser that has a powerful pull-back-and-go motor and wheels concealed in the base, bringing a new dimension to fulfilling an everyday request. An initial batch of 20,000 has already been bought up by retailers.

Wieden has also produced two new "Happy Sack" garbage-bag designs. When full, one bag looks as if it contains a giant goldfish swimming around in water, while the other looks like a traditional Christmas pudding, complete with cream on top.

"These are ideas that happen to live within everyday objects," said David Bruno. He and Tom Seymour are the team behind the products at Wieden & Kennedy. "You get the ideas immediately -- there is no explanation needed," Mr. Seymour said. "As a communications company, it's important to be able to get your idea across instantly."

Mr. Seymour and Mr. Bruno both have design backgrounds and were employed to focus on work outside traditional advertising briefs. "It's about getting the Wieden & Kennedy name out there," Mr. Seymour said. "Our vision is to be an ideas company."

The two are keen to "subvert the commonplace," and in the future hope to have 20 or 30 products on sale. The initial range of products is sold on a royalties basis through a licensing agreement, with the financial risk taken by Suck and Worldwide. However, if bigger returns start to come in, Wieden will invest more upfront.

As well as working on products, events and installations for clients including Nokia and Honda, Mr. Seymour and Mr. Bruno are tasked with servicing the Wieden & Kennedy brand. They recently won a competition against teams of artists and designers to create a new window display for Selfridges department store on Oxford Street in London.

Here's a demonstration of the musical ruler starring creative director Kim Papworth:

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