The Venice, Calif.-based agency next month will begin marketing its own products and long-form commercials with the launch of an informational parenting package.
The $100 kit will be peddled on 30-minute infomercials featuring "MASH" star Mike Farrell and his wife, Shelley Fabares, who co-stars on the ABC TV series "Coach."
The package includes 10 audiotapes and videotapes from child-rearing expert Nancy Samalin and a subscription to Parents magazine.
"This is an opportunity for us to actually create income and profit opportunities by owning products and marketing them, which is a major departure for most agencies," said Chiat North American CEO Bob Wolf, calling it a "growth area."
While several agencies have created infomercial units over the past few years, none has yet ventured into actually owning the products they pitch. But such a relationship is common among established infomercial production companies.
QVC's role is to provide capital, fill orders and sell the package on its home shopping channel.
Bob Perkins, president of Q Direct, a division of QVC, said he linked up with Chiat because of its creative reputation and his connections there. Mr. Perkins worked at Chiat for five years in various posts, including president of the New York office,until 1991.
The company is exploring additional ventures with Chiat. Currently, Q Direct is also running a new informercial for Roly Kit, a tool box it sells.
Chiat had begun talking about branching out into direct marketing last spring(AA, May 16),when Mr. Wolf attended the NIMA International midyear conference to scout out partners.
While the agency's first informercial efforts were planned for late 1994,they "took longer than we thought," Mr. Wolf said.
Chiat plans to market as many as five new products a year and is currently considering golf and fitness items.
An infomercial for Chiat client Nissan Motor Corp.. USA is still being discussed, Mr. Wolf said.
We've had a number of inquiries from our clients, but it's too early to talk about that."