Merkley Newman Harty is breaking its first image campaign for new client Oxo International in September with print ads in national magazines.
The New York-based Oxo, a wholly owned division of General Housewares, makes kitchen utensils such as ice cream spades and swivel fruit peelers under the moniker Oxo Good Grips.
"We were hired to position Oxo as a hip brand that will speak to forward-edge people who need the best for their kitchen, the people who shop at Williams-Sonoma," said Marty Cooke, Merkley's executive creative director.
The six new ads all pair a sumptuous food visual with a small inset of the appropriate Oxo tool for the occasion. The ads have a droll, playful tone, with rhyming copy running across the width of the ad.
In the execution for the apple divider, the copy waxes: " I've found a tool exceeding great, to slice each apple into eight. You hold it flat and press it firm and hope you never cut a worm, 'cause that's gross."
"The agency listened to us well and has developed an emotional message that's more about lifestyle than function," said Alex Lee, Oxo vice president, managing partner.
Merkley was awarded the estimated $1 million full-service assignment in March. The account had previously been handled by another New York shop, Ryan Drossman & Partners.
In the last couple of years, the company, founded in 1990, has expanded into different categories such as bathroom cleaners, garden tools and professional supplies.