Commentary

'Agency of Things' Aims to Connect Brands

As billions of things become internet connected, brands will be faced with where and how their products fit in the world of the Internet of Things.

If viewed outside the traditional box, connected products can become media assets.

It’s not just new things or smart objects that will be connected, but also packaging around traditional things.

For example, Absolut Vodka, which ships somewhere around 100 million bottles a year, is looking at connecting those bottles as one potential way to better serve its customers by leveraging location data, which could provide more tailored and relevant information or services.

The agency being tapped to help Absolut navigate the IoT course is London-based SharpEnd. The agency of things, as it bills itself, currently deals only with companies with European headquarters.

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Cameron Worth is founder of SharpEnd, the year-old agency focused only on the Internet of Things. The agency counts among its clients Unilever, Absolut Vodka, its parent company, Pernod Ricard, and Beiersdorf, whose skin care products include Nivea and Eucerin.

“We guide brands through the IoT process,” Worth told me from London yesterday. “Some brands say they don’t trust their traditional agency,” he said, when it comes to looking at IoT projects. “Other agencies are not set up to do IoT,” he said.

The centers of attention for SharpEnd are smart packaging, which can create new communication channels with consumers, and smart spaces (think beacons on steroids).

“The connected bottle is a holistic channel once it links to Web-based content,” said Worth. “It turns a product into a media asset and the bottle is now interactive.”

On the bottle itself, the method to make it connected could involve any number of technologies, such as image recognition, QR codes or NFC tags.

“We promote NFC, and NFC now can be oriented on labels,” said Worth.

The Internet of Things is dramatically different from traditional internet interactions. With those, the person does something to get a product or service. They essentially go online, temporarily disconnecting from the physical world

With the Internet of Things, objects in the real world are online

“The technology embeds itself into the real world,” said Worth. “IoT is about activating the real world. Things are happening around a person. It allows you to do everything better.”

And now there’s an IoT agency looking to do only that.

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