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Ad Agencies, Intellectual Property Agreements And The Brooklyn Brothers

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The Brooklyn Brothers is one of those agencies that isn’t exactly playing by the rules. The shop has been around since 2002, recently opened a second office in London and done some serious dabbling in intellectual property agreements with clients. So rules schmules, right? Things seem to be working out for the team.

We decided to check in with Matt Lake (not pictured), New Business Director of the agency, about how those intellectual property agreements are actually going.

1. The Brooklyn Brothers recently expanded to London. Is that a risky move in this economy?

“Not at all, it couldn’t be better. The current economy forces clients to look hard at where they are spending money and what they are getting in return. They are desperate for creative ideas that solve business problems. Unlike big agencies encumbered by legacy systems that foster one-dimensional
thinking we have yet to develop an idea we can’t execute. Clients find that refreshing.”

2. You guys put a lot of IP into OCO (a popular Latin American coconut drink) which got you a huge percentage chunk. Is such an investment paying off? Are you guys seeing some profit?

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“Not enough to buy that villa on the Italian Riviera but everything in due time. Oco is coming along nicely but Fat Pig Chocolate is getting very interesting because the design community has been championing the brand. But aside from the profit, marketing your own brands changes the conversation you have with clients. You’re no longer an agency trying to sell creative, you’re a peer that happens to be very creative. And you get paid too.”

3. You have some other IP-based projects, no? Lots of agencies are hesitant to get in on the IP model. What have you found to be the strengths of such an agreement?

“We actually have four others and the goal is to have ten. Agencies that rely exclusively on revenue from the communications business are missing out on a huge opportunity. The Internet has made it possible for anyone to develop a great brand these days. You don’t need to be a huge vertically integrated
corporation to succeed. You can access everything you need whether it’s manufacturing or a sales force at the click of your mouse.”

4. What are the weaknesses?

“Access to capital. We’ve got lots of great ideas but a limited pool of funds. You need to spend a lot of time deciding where to place your bets. A good investment allows you to continue building the business. A bad one keeps you that much further away from that villa in Portofino.

5. What advice to you have for other shops who are thinking of getting in on the ground floor with smaller brands?

“Make sure you have a significant enough stake to have a seat at the table.”

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