Creative collective launches ‘happiness gadget’ sex toys, The Monkeys mulls product division

A group of creatives including The Monkeys creative partner Micah Walker and former Mojo colleagues Pim Van Nunen and Justine Armour has launched a new line in sex toys aimed at ‘vibrator virgins’.

The Smile Makers vibrators, which come in the shape of a fireman, tennis coach, a millionaire and a Frenchman, were made as a result of an idea produced by creatives in different agencies in three different countries via email, Walker explained.

The idea – to make vibrators less embarrassing to buy, using cartoonized characters from sexual fantasies and non-sexual language (the Smile Maker is called a ‘happiness gadget’ in the media kit) – prompted Swedish entrepreneurs Peder Wikstrom and Mattias Hulting of Ramblin’ Brands to put the range into production.

Walker says a deal is in the pipeline to stock Smile Makers in health and beauty departments of chemists and department stores in Europe, Asia and the US.

Walker, Armour, now at Wieden + Kennedy, Pim Van Nunen, creative director at Publicis Mojo Sydney, worked on the vibrators from concept to product, packaging and communications, and will each take a percentage of sales.

“Too often, a creative is not attached to the birth of a product,” Walker told Mumbrella. “This is a rare exception. We wanted to make a sex toy brand that is ok to buy for a friend. We wanted to establish the brand, not hide it.”

Aimed at ‘curious women’ who don’t like going to sex shops, the ‘personal massagers’ are also being sold through the Smile Makers website Comeplaywithus.com. On the site, women can play a Fantasy Man Generator game to ‘find their hunk’, which they can share on Facebook, Twitter and email.

Only PR is being used to promote the new products, with a social media presence around Facebook under development.

Walker and The Monkeys MD Mark Green both suggested that a product design division would be the ‘next logical step’ in the development of The Monkeys model, which is already in the business of content production.

“One of the reasons I came to The Monkeys was to do things like this,” said Walker. “Soon we could be working on brand ideas which don’t have products yet.”

Credits:

  • Creative Team: Micah Walker, Pim Van Nunen and Justine Armour
  • Project Manager: Deanne Constantine
  • Photographer: Julian Wolkenstein
  • Production Company: Louis & Co
  • Producer: Simone McNair
  • Technical Advisor: Doogie Howser MD
  • Clients: Peder Wikstrom and Mattias Hulting, Ramblin’ Brands

Comments


  1. Johnny
    4 Jun 12
    9:32 am

  2. ….so they’re hipster vibrators?

  3. Anonymous
    4 Jun 12
    9:46 am

  4. Now were all fucked

  5. Notnilc
    4 Jun 12
    10:18 am

  6. Great naming guys…

    http://www.smilemakers.com/

  7. Dorothy
    4 Jun 12
    10:45 am

  8. Doogie Howser MD?

  9. Harry
    4 Jun 12
    11:24 am

  10. This is Sick. You’re trying to aim for a younger market (under16?) with these sex toys, a market that should be a NO GO for sex toys. Young children should not have access to sex toys… it’s why we DO have sex shops with strict regulations. Trying to ‘hide’ these sex toys behind ‘nice words’ and ‘pretty pictures’ is just dishonest. If I were a client of any of your company’s I would pull my business from you. This is one sick idea!

  11. mumbrella
    4 Jun 12
    11:38 am

  12. Hi Harry,

    I can’t see any reference in this story to it being aimed at a younger market, let alone under 16s. Where did you get that idea from?

    Cheers,

    Tim – Mumbrella

  13. hello_emily
    4 Jun 12
    11:39 am

  14. @Harry – How did you get to an under-16 target audience from this article? The stated audience is ‘curious women’ not school kids. I can’t figure out if you’re a mentalist or a troll but in the case of the latter, hats off I suppose.

  15. Micah
    4 Jun 12
    11:39 am

  16. Sorry Harry,

    This is in no way an attempt to target people under 16. It’s a brand built on the idea that sexual health isn’t taboo. What’s really disappointing is how cynical that assumption is. I’m curious how you’ve come to such a conclusion?

    There’s nothing being hidden’ and retailers can make up their own mind whether or not it’s right to stock the brand. As for clients firing someone, I don’t know who you mean – as this isn’t an agency project.

    Micah

  17. The Duke of Norfolk
    4 Jun 12
    11:43 am

  18. I think Harry’s comments may say more about what’s going on in his head than they do about the product

  19. Kernil
    4 Jun 12
    11:53 am

  20. Maybe he clicked the http://www.smilemakers.com link and thought they were being sold via that site?

  21. Harry
    4 Jun 12
    11:54 am

  22. Given this product has such a young look and feel with the box design, avoids using the correct words on the pack (sex toy, masturbate device etc) and with no clear warnings or age icons display I feel it is trying to appeal to a younger (under 16) market. ‘Sex toy virgins’ as they are calling it. Add to this they are not to be sold in sex shops or 18+ web sites… who are they trying to appeal to. I feel this is both morally wrong and possible may even breaks Australian law.

  23. SF
    4 Jun 12
    11:56 am

  24. One Tennis coach please :)

  25. Nick Riley
    4 Jun 12
    11:58 am

  26. Micah, when is ‘The Englishman’ being launched? and can you describe it’s appearance? Nick

  27. pete
    4 Jun 12
    12:04 pm

  28. I think Harry came to the conclusion people aged younger that 18+ would have access to the Smile Makers as the story says that there is a deal in the pipeline to stock the product within health and beauty departments of chemists and department stores. He obviously has a strong view on the matter and thinks that stores may not have the restrictions that adult stores have in place. I’m sure those stores would set in place certain messures to ensure that the Smile makers are sold to the right audience and aren’t placed next to the Barbie doll’s

  29. AdGrunt
    4 Jun 12
    12:17 pm

  30. Nice. Taking the frame and experience away from the Toolshed / Anne Summers area.

    Lovely branding, packaging and product design.

    4.5/5 grunts. Or should they be groans?

  31. Steve
    4 Jun 12
    12:32 pm

  32. Harry needs to get a root and calm down. Or maybe release some frustrations with a product like Smile Makers.

  33. The Fence
    4 Jun 12
    12:49 pm

  34. It’s sad that Mumbrella is too conservative to say SEX…what does that say about our industry.

  35. The Fence
    4 Jun 12
    12:50 pm

  36. Opps. Stet that my computer was playing funny buggers.

  37. SexToysRock
    4 Jun 12
    12:50 pm

  38. @Nick, I imagine ‘The Englishman’ will be white and skinny and not have many speed variations. I’m sure it would be incredibly funny though.

  39. mumbrella
    4 Jun 12
    12:54 pm

  40. Hi The Fence,

    We asterix it in our daily email to avoid falling foul of filters.

    Cheers,

    Tim – Mumbrella

  41. Harry
    4 Jun 12
    1:02 pm

  42. Micah
    You say ‘There’s nothing being hidden’ so where is the clear age guide or 18+ age restriction on the box? I mean is it OK for a 16 year old to buy this? Is it OK for a 12 year old to buy this? What if the girl is younger than 12? What is being hidden here is clearly marking the ‘brand’ for what it is and that it is a sex toy.

  43. LW
    4 Jun 12
    1:12 pm

  44. Oh dear, Harry. Maybe they’ll make a butt plug just for you, sounds like you need some loosening up.

  45. Ricki
    4 Jun 12
    1:16 pm

  46. Was in Coles yesterday…yes Coles Supermarket… and noticed while buying some necessaries in the health aisle that there is a substantial range of products on the shelves designed to enhance bedroom shenanigans. There are products that glow in the dark, create ‘sensations’ via various erm…formats… and yes Harry, …even some that buzz. I didn’t see any teens skulking around that section for what it’s worth.

    Go for it Micah et al. Best of luck.

  47. AdGrunt
    4 Jun 12
    1:36 pm

  48. Harry,

    Fear not. I’m certain these sex toys won’t replace vegetables, deodorant cans, hair brushes and grubby digits in the teen repertoire.

  49. Gold Member
    4 Jun 12
    1:43 pm

  50. Micah, I’d like to know what the various shaped knob features deliver in terms of different product experiences. I take it that they would have to add some functionality, or you would have left them with firemans helmet, Frenchy’s beret on the business end.

    I know Starck and Newson always say they start with the user experience, and then add their aesthetics after they have nailed the experiential design.

    I say good on you Micah and crew for giving Newson and Starck a new challenger.

  51. Micah
    4 Jun 12
    2:07 pm

  52. Harry. The top of the box says ‘personal massager’ where retailers have asked for clarification.

    I’m sorry you feel like we’re trying to trick someone, it’s actually not our intent at all. In more retailers than I can name – but safe to say many ‘mainstream’ – various of what you would call ‘sexual’ products already exist. It varies greatly country to country.

    Individual retailers and laws mean shelf decisions, etc. vary from market to market. It was never and would never be designed for the ages you suggest, but we still stand by the idea that for people of age, sex shouldn’t be a dirty thing at all, but a healthy part of life.

    As for the design. The absolute intent is for a friendly, playful and contemporary design. It’s not meant to be kid-like.

    Gold Member. Each of the products are designed to provide a unique experience. The actual product engineers/designers made sure that the concept followed through to the experience as much as it could. Simply, they each have a different technique.

  53. Eddie
    4 Jun 12
    2:36 pm

  54. Harry, are you from the Christian lobby by any chance??

    I think you should try the Frenchman to ease your troubles…

  55. Surry Hills
    4 Jun 12
    2:37 pm

  56. @Harry – since when do you have to actually be 18 to use sex toys? I am pretty sure the legal age to have sex in this country is 16? Plus, the way kids are going these days, I would prefer it if my kid (that is, if I had one) used sex toys, then went out there and had sex with other irresponsible teens!! Stop being a judgemental prude & maybe that 3-cell brain if yours could be a little more open minded to everyone who does not share your views!

  57. Harry
    4 Jun 12
    2:51 pm

  58. Micah

    That fact that a 13-year-old girl can walk into Coles or Woolworth and buy a sex toy in my eyes is not acceptable and I still believe your packaging does not strongly communicate what the product really is and lacks a large minimum age
    noted on the design.
    I also believe retailers are at fault here, trying to bend the law in order to gain sales. Cigarettes are hidden from view and placed behind counters so kids under 16 can not buy them, yet these ‘sex toys’ are out on the shelve for any age to buy.
    Go figure

  59. Harry
    4 Jun 12
    2:56 pm

  60. No Eddie,
    Not from the Christian lobby, just a dad with a 13 year daughter.

  61. Micah
    4 Jun 12
    3:18 pm

  62. Harry.

    I’m also a father of two daughters.

    I’m not trying to challenge your concern, just your conclusion at our motivation.

    Micah

  63. Harrys Mum
    4 Jun 12
    3:44 pm

  64. Harry please apologise to the nice people. They have made some toys that will make mummy very happy. Harry you have been a naughty boy.

  65. Harry
    4 Jun 12
    3:51 pm

  66. Micah
    I think your motivation to improve something is real and I don’t belive it was ever to sell sex toys to kids. But I feel that is where you have ended up. The design you selected, the language you carefully use when talking about it smacks of ‘spin’ and will appeal to a much younger audience. If this was a new kids magazine it would be fine… but it’s not, it’s a sex toy

  67. Gold Member
    4 Jun 12
    4:00 pm

  68. Micah I think you should ignore Harry. Replying to him just baits more posts.

    Of more interest is my ideas for the fifth and sixth in your series. I am seeing one really big and black, labelled “The Ghetto Blaster”, and number six for the young at heart, i’m seeing a tiny one with acne, called The Bieber”

    What do you think Harry ?

  69. Ramblin' Brands
    4 Jun 12
    4:02 pm

  70. Hello Harry,

    it’s true that Australia has stricter regulation when it comes to selling sex toys and we need to abide by those laws. This is why we are not approaching any retailers here. However, in the rest of Asia, and in Europe and the US, you will already find vibrators from major brand such as Durex and Trojan stocked in everyday stores like Boots, Watsons etc. In fact, Durex has a 50 million pound business with their Play brand, which includes vibrators, vibrating rings, and lubricants.

    For Australia, purchases are limited to online where we have technically blocked any purchase by credit card holders younger than 18. We also have an entire section under the “Support” section on the website with the following text:

    “The Smile Makers brand and this website target adults only. We do not attempt to communicate with persons under the age of 18, neither directly in words nor indirectly through product or visual designs.

    By viewing this website, or by purchasing our products, you agree that you are aged 18 or above. You further agree that you will not share this site, share the product with, or sell the product to anyone under the age of 18.”

    In our discussions with retailers, our guidance is to shelve the products at eye-height fo adults, which is usually above where e.g. condoms, other vibrator brands and even alcohol are located. Regarding who buys the product in the store, our expectation is that our customers follow local legislation.

    Regarding the brand appeal, actually the most passionate supporters so far have been women 35+. Our first online customer was over 60. She bought a Millionaire and sent us a mail saying “I already have one, but a little change never hurts at my age.”

    Sincerely,
    Ramblin’ Brands

  71. Orlando
    4 Jun 12
    4:29 pm

  72. Personally I think 12 year olds should be allowed to buy vibrators. When will we stop the discrimination against our nations youth?

  73. Tin
    4 Jun 12
    4:35 pm

  74. @Harry I hope you’re not paying for flute lessons for your daughter.

  75. bob is a rabbit
    4 Jun 12
    4:36 pm

  76. How ironic, that when we as an industry actually produce the product itself, that it’s a tool to wank with. It’s official – advertising is full of wankers.

  77. AdGrunt
    4 Jun 12
    5:06 pm

  78. Harry,
    Noting the traditional alternatives above, if she could afford one (how?!) why is it so terrible that she should want or use one?

  79. Harry
    4 Jun 12
    5:24 pm

  80. Ramblin’ Brands

    Thanks for the long answer, it has helped knowing you guys are more than just spin.

    Hey Tin,
    Go fuck yourself

  81. Archie
    4 Jun 12
    6:00 pm

  82. this discussion just goes to prove the adage “you can talk about sex toys all you like, but Harry is the real dildo here”

  83. Harry
    4 Jun 12
    6:09 pm

  84. AdGrunt
    I have no problem with sex toys, I just don’t want then targeted at kids under 16′s … which i feel these are.

  85. Harry
    4 Jun 12
    8:39 pm

  86. Hey Archie,
    Better the dildo than the fucking arse hole it came out from mate

  87. Mary
    4 Jun 12
    10:12 pm

  88. I think Harry had a point. This does seem to me
    to be aimed at the teen market!

  89. AdGrunt
    4 Jun 12
    10:57 pm

  90. Harry

    If a [insert age of your emotive choice here] year old girl is of a mind to buy a dildo, then she will a) have to afford one. b) have the desire to obtain and buy one.

    If those criteria are achieved then wild horses won’t stop her getting a dildo and frigging herself stupid. It’s not like it’s drugs or booze, for fucks sake.

    Focus on bringing her up with a strong self-esteem and a confidence in her body so that she doesn’t feel that its enjoyment is “dirty” or “sinful”

    Bleating about some packaging on a dildo being a bit nice, that your daughter *might* like, marks you out as a dad who might wish to focus on the more important things in his daughters life.

  91. Harry
    5 Jun 12
    10:06 am

  92. AdCunt
    Who the fuck are you to tell me how to bring up my kids?
    This was a debate about packaging, labeling and selling sex toys at a local retail level.

  93. reality
    5 Jun 12
    11:55 am

  94. Harry, maybe if you took the time to attend a school run sex-ed seminar with your daughter you’d realise how much masturbation is a part of teenager’s lives – male and female. And this is not to insinuate that your daughter does this. But a lot of kids her age (and much younger) do. Fact.

    Some educators in the UK and Europe even encourage teenagers to use apparatus if they feel the need to. Teenagers have higher levels of hormones than adults, and it’s deemed better that they explore their bodies with a sex toy than with another unprotected kid.

    But of course in Australia, the laws mean kids will have to use old fashioned things, like hands, vegetables, mobile phones… Just because you ban the marketing doesn’t mean you can get rid of the problem.

  95. The Grim Reaper
    5 Jun 12
    12:19 pm

  96. I just hope your daughter isn’t online reading this thread Harry! Fruity language there!

  97. AdGrunt
    5 Jun 12
    1:35 pm

  98. Oh Harry,

    What a charming chap you are.

    You’re the one that chose to validate your view by mentioning your daughter and her age. Not me.

    You’re the one trying to impose your warped logic, morals and judgement with no support other than “will no-one think of the children.” Not me.

    You’re the one who has destroyed any semblance of a valid argument with such fine manners, temperament and mroeover no support for your sad argument.

    Hence, you have demonstrated with a staggering clarity that you almost certainly are the biggest issue in your daughter’s life.

    So toddle along now and learn how to be a better person, a better parent and do spare the name-calling when you’re exposed as an idiotic wowser.

  99. Harry
    6 Jun 12
    8:46 am

  100. AdRunt
    Strongs words from a man that posts boldly from behind a screen name.

  101. Joey D
    6 Jun 12
    10:03 am

  102. adgrunt: “why is it so terrible that she should want or use one?” – because its illegal

  103. AdGrunt
    7 Jun 12
    8:25 am

  104. Joey,

    I asked why it’s so terrible. Not what the law is.

    It’s not as if the law is stopping, or designed to stop, kids wanking, is it?

  105. AdGrunt
    7 Jun 12
    8:27 am

  106. Harry,

    You are Harry who, exactly?

    You’re as anonymous as me. Could you stop embarrassing yourself now dear.

  107. Good design
    13 Jun 12
    9:03 pm

  108. If you want to check out a great sex toy that ‘hits the spot’ with design packaging and a stylish and natural way to appeal to females check out http://leafvibes.com/
    Think you missed the mark guys.

  109. jean cave
    20 Jun 12
    1:24 am

  110. Is it just me . . . this product seems to be without any female perspective in either its design or marketing. Mostly its the lady-brain/hormones that supplies the necessary erotic charge.

  111. Pierre-Louis Cabanon
    27 Jun 12
    12:06 pm

  112. Sex toys aimed at ‘vibrator virgins’ is very confusing as you can see. People understand “vibrators for virgins” instead of “Sex toys aimed at people who have never tried a vibrator before”. Hopefully, they are not using this expression anywhere else otherwise it will be a PR disaster!

  113. Offal Spokesperson
    27 Jun 12
    2:22 pm

  114. What a load of wank