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Ex-Interscope Exec Opens Agency

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NEW YORK Former Interscope Records executive Steve Stoute has branched out to open a multicultural advertising agency in partnership with recording artist Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter and Interpublic Group.

IPG, which in October acquired Stoute's Translation Consultation + Brand Imaging, has taken a 49 percent stake in the new agency, which is called Translation Advertising. Stoute, 37, and Carter, 38, own the rest.

Translation Advertising will specialize in creating ads that are intended to appeal to African-Americans and more broadly, multicultural consumers. To provide specialty marketing services such as events, the New York-based shop will access other IPG agencies like Jack Morton.

"The current fashion and standing that African-Americans hold in the world today -- especially in American culture -- isn't fully represented in the advertising community," said Stoute, in a statement. "We want to show this community in advertising that's fresh, accurate and perfectly executed."

Added Carter: "I look forward to sharing ideas and breaking new ground once again in a new area. We are not looking to just have an agency, we are looking to perfect our relationship with the consumer."

Stoute and Carter, the former president and CEO of Def Jam Recording and Roc-A-Fella Records, follow in the footsteps of other prominent African-Americans who have launched ad agencies, with mixed success, including Spike Lee (Omnicom Group-backed Spike DDB), Russell Simmons (the now defunct dRush, a joint venture with Deutsch) and Sean Combs (Blue Flame Marketing and Advertising).

IPG CEO Michael Roth said, "Having Steve and Shawn on board in this venture creates a strong and highly visible team. They are both tremendous businessmen, with great insight and experience into connecting brands with consumers for many of the world's biggest clients."

Stoute and IPG will "jointly oversee" the hiring of a senior management team to run the business, IPG said. Translation Advertising opens with one client that IPG declined to disclose.

In October, IPG paid an estimated $10-15 million in cash for Stoute's brand consultancy, which at the time had estimated revenue of $5-10 million and about 45 staffers. That deal gave IPG a branded entertainment specialist that shared a major client in General Motors and had ties to the music industry and urban culture. At the same time, Translation gained access to IPG's clients, with an opportunity to expand its operation.