by Suzanne Bidlake Brand Republic 10 Apr 2006
LONDON – Saatchi & Saatchi is touting a manufactured girl band, created by the agency, as its latest ad weapon in the battle to reach young consumers.
Marketers will be able to hire the as-yet-unnamed group to promote their brands in their songs, their clothing and what they eat and drink.
Already a drinks company, a consumer goods marketer, an entertainment business and car manufacturers are said to be lining up for the chance to align their products with what appears to be the most disposable incarnation of pop in a post reality-TV world.
Created by Saatchi youth division Gum, the idea aims to surmount the problem of ad clutter by taking brands into a fresh medium.
The agency is understood to be planning to roll out the concept further to a rock band and a comedian if selling pop as a marketing vehicle is successful.
Any similarities between existing brands and the girl band members' stage names -- Mercedes, Chanel, S-Jay and Rockwell -- is said to be merely coincidental.
The girls all hold down day jobs and are being groomed into pop stars with singing and choreography training and styling. It is estimated that the agency might have to send over £200,000 a year to develop the band.
The girl group will make its public debut next month in a "mobisoap" -- a series of minute-long soap opera-style films reflecting their real lives relayed via mobile phones.
Established music talent has already moved closer to marketing brands. Kanye West and four other rappers mentioned Seagram's gin in songs in 2004, and hip-hop acts such as Busta Rhymes and P Diddy lifted cognac sales with the 'Pass the Courvoisier' hit two years earlier.
The idea of manufacturing bands is hardly new with The Spice Girls, Boyzone and S Club 7 all blazing an early trail, which has been followed by reality TV groups Hearsay and Liberty X.
But creating them specifically as a marketing tool is likely to make some wince and question if it is not a step too far.
Whether brand owners will be tempted by the Saatchi girls' entreaty in an early track -- "Anything you want me to be baby, I'll play the part" -- remains to be seen.