In one of their boldest plays yet The Monkeys are testing their marketing and entrepreneurial smarts taking a 50% equity stake in a new venture relaunching Unilever’s once booming premium icecream brand Homer Hudson.
Created in Australia by the packaged goods giant in the late 1980s, Homer Hudson almost single-handedly carved out the premium ice cream category here. It was offloaded in a global brand sell-off by Unilever in the late 90s and the trademark alter bought by a former Unilever executive in 2003 but ultimately was delisted from supermarkets. Unilever now uses Ben & Jerry’s as it’s super premium global brand.
The agency’s management team have completed a massive overhaul of hip new Homer Hudson designs and packaging, product formulation and flavours, a contract manufacturing agreement with Bulla, an innovative, a coming fully automated e-commerce site for independent retail trade customers and a characteristically irreverent communications campaign aimed at getting fast attention for the initial rollout into 900 Woolworths stores yesterday (9 March).
The Homer Hudson range will retail for around $11. Flavours include Prom Queen Dream, Choc & Awe and Gold Caddy Crunch.
Various agencies around the world have experimented with launching their own consumer brands – many in the premium spirits category, namely vodka - but The Monkeys are going premium mass in an icecream category dominated by big spending multinationals.
Aside from a real-world commercial agenda to make Homer Hudson’s return a raging success, The Monkeys want to use it as a case study for clients who choke when conversations turn to The Monkeys staking their credentials for product development and broader business innovation rather than just communications briefs.
It was the same challenge early in the agency’s life – then known as Three Drunk Monkeys – when the partners wanted to create long-form and brand funded content out side of conventional advertising formats. The Monkeys created two TV series with big names such as Andrew Denton – the first a pisstake on adland called 30 Seconds and then My Family Feast which ran on SBS, Foxtel and the ABC.
“If you go back to our inception, at that point there was a similar situation where clients weren’t necessarily believing agencies could provide branded content or longer format entertainment to a level of quality,” said Monkeys co-founder Justin Drape. “So we created two shows that were critically acclaimed.
“I guess agencies we were talking about the new skills required and new opportunities to clients but they didn't have any evidence of us actually doing it. What we found when we attempted to do it, you had all the knowledge gaps and things we didn't know about but by doing it first hand you actually learn new things and then you can take that experience to clients and have they can have the confidence of believing you.”
Monkeys CEO Mark Green said a good result with Homer Hudson would open up new opportunities for the agency to elevate beyond communications campaigns.
“We did that with content and this is another attempt at doing it,” he said. “We thought rather than wait for the client to give us the brief and back us we will set out and do it ourselves. Our experience to date has proven once clients see that you have experience under your belt and the capability and they see some success from it then they will give you the opportunity.”
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