NEW YORK The William Morris Agency has partnered with teen virtual world Habbo, giving the social networking site representation as both look to expand their digital entertainment efforts.
The talent agency will assist Habbo in extending its relationships with entertainment companies, such as movie studios, who are keen to reach the teen demographic, serving as a strategic partner and consultant.
Lewis Henderson, svp, digital media business, pointed to a recent alliance that Habbo struck with Paramount Pictures Digital Entertainment announced last week that gave the virtual world merchandising rights in the U.S. for its studio films Beowulf, Mean Girls and upcoming The Spiderwick Chronicles. The deal created a new revenue stream opportunity for Paramount with the ability to sell virtual goods.
"We think there are more opportunities to mine throughout sports, entertainment - media -- that can create such [revenue] opportunities within Habbo and at same time help to build its brand," said Henderson.
While the goal of the partnership is not to place WMA talent into Habbo, when there is an opportunity (such as through a music tour or book deal or to promote a new film or show) the agency will also cull sports, music and theatrical personalities from its talent pool.
Teemu Huuhtanen, evp, Habbo business and president for Habbo in North America, said the virtual world had been in talks with WMA for about six months, referring to the talent agency as Habbo's "right hand," and the deal was signed when it became evident that both parties had the same ideas and goals in mind.
They understand the possibilities of finding new revenue opportunities for their clients, whether it's a studio or an actor, he said. "We share the same passion in building what they want to [in the entertainment industry]," Huuhtanen also said.
Clear to the point that the virtual worlds space is rife with competition, Huuhtanen said one advantage he sees for Habbo is the research it undertakes on the demographic itself. Habbo conducts a yearly youth survey that asks about such things as favorite television shows, sports clubs membership, what beverages they like to drink. "Based on those results, we are in the perfect position to really understand what's really relevant for teens. Together with the William Morris Agency, we are talking to entertainment companies about those results and how they might be seeing their brands. Because the stuff they follow in the real world might be viable for them to do so in a virtual context. It's all about staying relevant and giving them more of what they are interested in," he said.