Mintz to Give Radio a New Spin

Mintz & Hoke’s newest client is a rarity in the dot.com age. The Freeplay Energy Group manufactures radios and flashlights that don’t require electricity or batteries, just a few cranks of a handle.
The Avon, Conn., shop was named first U.S. agency of record after a review of undisclosed shops. The shop’s first work, a holiday print campaign, is running in USA Today.
“They are strategically focused,” said Gary Gillum, vice president of marketing in Freeplay’s U.S. office in Orangeburg, N.Y. “There is a lot we need to do in positioning.” Billings were not disclosed.
Said agency president Chris Knopf: “It’s hard to get much cooler than a funky-looking consumer electronics product. It’s a huge coup.”
The Freeplay radio was developed along the same lines as the gramophone. It has been advertised only sporadically in the U.S., where it is sold by The Sharper Image, Sports Authority and others.
After winning financial backing from nonprofit groups, Freeplay opened a factory in Capetown, South Africa, in 1994. Each day, some 20,000 products are produced by a workforce comprised of battered women, reformed criminals and the disabled.
The products have been endorsed by Nelson Mandela and organizations such as the Red Cross distribute them. “It’s a company with a tremendous soul,” Knopf said.