When Agent 16's branding services were enlisted by import-development company Global Access this summer, executives at the New York independent quickly had 70 Asian businesses attempting to schedule meetings.
Recently, eight Asian manufacturers selected by Global Access met with Agent 16 execs to discuss 10 products that agency chief strategist Richard Wise said the team deemed promising for the U.S. market, but "not quite ready for prime time."
Before teaming with Agent 16, Global Access was able to offer manufacturers looking for U.S. shelf space packaging suggestions, but little more. Now Agent 16, a 45-person shop with clients like the New York City Department of Education and R.J. Reynolds, is rebranding and redesigning Asia-made items for U.S. consumption.
Among the projects already completed by Agent 16: For a Korean maker of magnetic darts, the agency designed an array of dart games, such as "The Lazy Husband Chore Picker"; and for a maker of children's magnetic blocks, the shop repackaged the item as an executive toy.
Often, the products have to be tailored to American tastes. For example, one manufacturer offered a combo language translator, MP3 player and FM radio. "Someone had to tell them, 'Nobody is going to buy your product instead of an iPod,' " said Global Access president Craig Moss, brother of Agent 16 CCO Clark Moss.
Global Access is now hoping to get mass retailers to stock the products. If that happens, Agent 16 would handle marketing, mostly via in-store promotions and trade marketing, said Global Access' Moss.