Alternate Channels for Ad Agencies

Pick Me: Targets carnivores who don't want to eat meat daily.Times are tough or so we are told. While this has meant a mixed bag of fortunes for some brands and agencies, some of them are turning things on their head. Bartle Bogle Hegarty and Mother are two international agencies that have turned to running businesses where they see a 'lag' in the customer expectations and brands available.

BBH has started two businesses through a new division- Zag. These are Pick Me Up vegetarian meals for 'bi-tarians'- people who are non-vegetarians but eat vegetarian meals as well, and Ila Dusk alarms. Both are managed by professional vendors and sold at UK's biggest retailers- Tesco and Marks & Spencer. Expected to be multi-million brands within the year, their initial openings indicate as much.

The other agency, Mother has been ON on this front. They've had multiple products such as books, shopping bags, candies and gourmet hot-dogs. While some of these brands are novelties, some have seen interest by VC's and other financial whizkids with their funds coming in.

In India, there's no example that we've located of such businesses or try-outs that have registered a blip. Agencies have so far been content on a ATL-heavy campaigning structure for big brands, with hardly any local brands achieving cult status on their own. Leaving out stand-alone restaurants, or local sweetmeat sellers Haldirams in north India, Jumbo King vada Pavs or MTR is southern India, we have hardly any niche local brands to speak of. And this is only the food industry.

While Mother and BBH are what can be described as 'boutique' agencies, the mainstream ones haven't really started anything exclusive, leaving out launching business specific agencies such as Emfatico (for Dell worldwide) or Altitude (for Jet in India).

It would be interesting to see if any opportunities arise in this sphere, in India. With a brand-starved, aspiring TG ready to look for brands in everything they do, this might be the big ticket for anyone willing to stick his neck out.

Tell us if you know of any agency-operated businesses in India or otherwise.

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