It's become increasingly common to hear that ad agencies do more than just make these ads these days. That they employ their skills to identify opportunities and bring new products or innovations to light. And while talented ad folk, such as Peter Cullinane, have gone on to start hugely successful businesses off the back of the skills they honed in the industry, there are, however, precious few examples of agencies developing something from scratch from within their walls, taking it to market and developing a sustainable business out of it.
Now, True is hoping to show that it's equal to this challenge with the launch of a fancy doghouse brand, Barkitecture, that couples aesthetic appeal with a reasonable price.
High-end doghouses are already available to those willing to pay a premium (sometimes to the tune of US$325,000), but the creative team behind the brand was aiming to address the canine housing crisis with the launch of what they claim is the world’s first affordable designer doghouse.
Made from a lightweight, durable and non-toxic material, Barkitecture’s range of fully customisable, insulated dog houses come in a range of sizes and can be ordered in three colours.
Head designer Oscar Fernandez says the inspiration for Barkitecture came from a lack of stylish options to house his best friend, Momo (a three-year-old Greyhound). “When I started looking for an outdoor crib befitting Momo’s distinct personality, I couldn’t find a thing that I liked, or could afford,” he says. “So I got together with another couple of dog and design lovers and we created Barkitecture. Our ambition is to create a durable and stylish house that reflects the personality of dogs and their owners at a price everyone can afford. In our dream world, all dogs will live in homes just as stylish as their owners.”
Fernandez, who's works as an industrial designer at True (we spoke to some other True team members about Barkitecture last year when we profiled their swanky new office), adds that the Barkitecture design team drew upon interior and architectural design references from around the world, as well as tool-free, flat-pack design to create abodes for Afghans, Affenpinschers, Akita Inus, and more. “Dog houses can be quite considerable in size,” he says. “They should be celebrated and accentuate the styling of the inhabitants and their surroundings.”
High-quality homes for Huskies and Huntaways sounds fine, but it’s, of course, a claim many, many other human designers have made before. But Fernandez is backing up his company with a claim that may or may not be interpreted as barking mad. “I’m actually considering making one that I can live in.”
Whether Barkitecture catches on is anyone's guess, but True will likely face some of the challenges that other innovating creative agencies have faced in launching products.
In a 2015 interview with Digiday, RTO+P president Steve Red said that the most challenging thing about his Philidelphia-based agency co-owning Tub Gin was finding was finding the time to focus on the brand.
“Ultimately, it’s not what we do for a living,” he said. "So there’s always a challenge putting the manpower against the business aspects of Tub that don’t standardly fall within what an ad agency does: distribution, sales calls, product production. The other thing, ironically, is keeping Tub marketing at the top of the to-do list. Because it’s ours, we don’t think of it as a client and therefore have a tendency to always back-burner it in our daily workload."
That said, if Barkitecture appeals to the masses, then the team at True will be smiling all the way to the bank as it collects a share of the $800 million that New Zealanders spend of dogs every year.
- This story originally appeared on Idealog.