Anomaly Forges Better Partnerships

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” -George Bernard Shaw
BusinessWeek is running a fascinating look at Anomaly, the NYC shop that seeks intellectual property agreements from its clients, instead of the standard fees.

Retaining and profiting from intellectual-property rights is new territory for advertising, though clients, keen to turn the old, time sheet-centered model of advertising on its head, increasingly are looking for authentic partnerships with their marketing teams. Last year, Seattle agency Cole & Weber/Red Cell, a subsidiary of WPP Group, produced a TV sitcom that prominently featured Rainier beer (made by Pabst Brewing), with the agency retaining full ownership of the show. Anomaly is betting this will be the model of the future. With an equity stake, says partner Carl Johnson, the motivation to help a client succeed is more genuine—and the results more impressive. “When we own the IP or we share in the revenue, you can bet we’re going to work all day, every day.”

Richard Branson’s Virgin America is one high profile client willing to accept Anomaly’s terms. The agency received a fee up front for traditional marketing efforts like print and outdoor ads, and a Web site running a contest to “name the planes”, but Anomaly will also take a percentage of sales from extras like in-flight entertainment and Burton branded luggage, which it helped to develop and produce.
“They live and die by the success of the product, and to me that’s very powerful,” says Hosain Rahman, CEO and founder of San Francisco-based Aliph, who hired Anomaly for the 2006 launch of Jawbone, its Bluetooth headset designed by Yves Béhar.
Anomaly also identified the massive opportunities in mobile commerce. They raised millions in venture capital and started ShopText in 2006. ShopText was spun out as a standalone service in November, 2006, though Anomaly still owns 30% of the company, and shares in its profits.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.