Fast Company

Headphones For Cats: Just One Idea From Spur, A New One-Stop Viral Video Shop

Vertical integration for the online video industry? A New York company commissions and films online video for clients and then handles distribution in-house. Their first project involves a version of deadmau5's and Michael Phelps's favorite headphones--for cats.

Rooster New York, an ad/marketing/production agency, is trying a new trick for the competitive world of online video: building their own video distribution arm.

And headphones for kitties. 

But first, the video distribution business. Spur is headed up by former BNQT/USA Today exec Ryan Denehy, who's helping build an ad agency that not only pitches ideas but also shoots the video and then pushes it out to precisely the right interested viewers.

Sebastian Eldridge, who co-founded Rooster with his brother Saxon and Vice cofounder Gavin McInnes, tells Fast Company that the vertical integration process, called “data-driven creative,” saves clients time and funds. Being able to have an eye for the distribution method before producing a video allows content to be custom-tinkered to market conditions. And the video distributors are in-house at the agency, minimizing the risk of crossed signals or communication delays.

Like every other agile advertising agency in the Internet age, Rooster and Spur also understand the power of cats. And McInnes, star of such campaigns as "How To Piss In Public" (a campaign for Vans' offthewall.tv project--and the title of McInnes's own book) understands gonzo marketing. Spur's first distributed spot is for real, functional headphones for felines. The web video promotes a new partnership between headphone firm Sol Republic (the headphones seen semi-permanently attached to Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps's head) and electronic dance music star deadmau5. In the clip, Rooster creative director and Vice cofounder Gavin McInnes (sort of) gets deadmau5's cat "Professor Meowingtons" to model the headphones. Ten fully functioning cat headphones, at a price of $1,000 each, were created by Sol Republic with purchasing integrated into the YouTube ad. According to McInnes, “I get to do a comedy sketch, and Deadmau5 is happy because he's got an art project and all the money goes to charity.” Profits are being sent to the ASPCA.

In a conversation with Rooster's staff, the firm emphasized that Spur builds personal relationships with tech providers that lead to better placement for ads. Sebastian Eldridge calls it “a trading desk for online media.” Technology, not schmoozing, is its backbone. “We're not calling the hypebeast.com editor and asking can you place this? We're working directly with the tech providers. And these are longterm deals.”

For Rooster, whose clients include prominent brands such as Vans, the Travel Channel, HP, Levi's, Grey Goose Vodka, and Red Bull, the challenge is carving a niche in a crowded market. Online video distribution is currently dominated by a few giants like Unruly and Brightcove and the growth of new markets such as mobile and BuzzFeed-type viral blogs mean video marketing is a much bigger priority than it was in, say, 2010. While Spur/Rooster have an impressive client roster, video placement for the company may well rely more on targeting influential readers and specific demographics rather than broad, mass-market numbers.

And if nothing else, they've given cat fanciers sick headphones to go with their pets' kitten mittens.

Note: Fast Company has previously hired Rooster to produce video content. See some of it here

For more stories like this, follow @fastcompany on Twitter. Email Neal Ungerleider, the author of this article, here or find him on Twitter and Google+.

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