Wexley Goes On Sport Fishing Expedition And Other Tall Tales

Ad Age looks at one of the more interesting developments in the agency business of late—a move to income-producing models other than commissions, retainers and consulting-type hours and fee models.

Seattle shop Wexley School for Girls really wants to profit not just from selling a tagline, a viral video or even a high-concept marketing strategy but from patents, trademarks or other intellectual property with the potential to pay out.

Wexley along with a growing number of shops—including Crispin Porter & Bogusky, Bernstein Rein, Brooklyn Brothers and Anomaly—are busy applying their creative minds in new ways. Crispin, for instance, serves as Haggar Clothing Company’s marketing department: It has a hand in store design, e-commerce and product development. For that, it gets an equity stake.
Brooklyn Brothers, which prefers to call itself a “creative enterprise” rather than an agency, is launching Premcal, a premenstrual-syndrome treatment it is marketing along with a physician who developed the product. They also want to take a coconut drink named Oco, popular in the Latin American workplace, and market it as a sexy night-club libation.

“We are a creative enterprise — we use creative to create profit,” said Brooklyn Brothers’ partner Paul Parton.

One of the unintended plusses for the agency personnel involved in these projects is a heightened sensitivity to the type of day-to-day challenges often faced by clients. Brooklyn Brothers’ Mr. Parton said the experience has made clear that the job of coming up with marketing ideas is much simpler than developing products.
I love the idea of incubating new businesses in the agency oven. But ideas come easy to this set. The real value (and the challenge) will be in the execution. Or as Tom Asacker said recently, “a genius is someone who ‘does,’ not someone who simply thinks.”



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.