Could a William Morris/Endeavor Merger Be Good for You?

By Matt Van Hoven 

Ever seen HBO’s Entourage? Jeremy Piven’s character, Ari Gold is based on the guy who founded Endeaver, a Los Angeles based talent agency. The New York Times and Deadline Hollywood Daily have been tossing around rumors that Endeavor might merge with William Morris, another agency (which we’ve written about). You may not realize how much ad money talent agencies bring in through branding initiatives, but if WMA and Endeavor merge there might be some freed up money. Bear with us as we explain.

Last May, WMA formed Agency 3.0, a “let’s merge branding and mobile stuff” company helmed by former Amp’d & Boost Mobile creator/CEO Peter Adderton. We haven’t heard so much as a peep from the “company”, so who knows if they’re doing anything, anyway. Also included are Greg Johnson, who was CCO at both McCann Worldgroup and Digitas, Steve Stanford who was a founder of ICM’s digital media group.

As best we can tell (Agency 3.0 hasn’t returned our calls yet), this offshoot is not connected to WMA’s Corporate Consulting practice, a group of agents whose job it is to find brand partnerships within WMA’s massive talent and product pool (movies, TV shows, books etc). The agency also has a commercials department, but from what we can tell they deal mostly with talent.

Anyway according to the New York Times, offshoots like Agency 3.0 and the corporate consulting (read: branding) are attempts by big talent agencies to grab at what the smaller shops are already pros at. Sound familiar? WMA is 110 years old, but has incredible depth in the field in terms of the resources at their hands. Selling Dial soap? How about a sexy shower scene with this sexy starlet in this upcoming box-office sure thing, directed by this award winning visionary director and produced by so-and-so, et cetera.

If you’ve got the money, shopping your brand at William Morris makes sense. But if the agency merges with Endeavor, it sounds like those fringe assets might not make it.

From Nikki Finke’s Deadline Hollywood Daily; “Both (WMA and Endeavor) now realize that any newly merged company has to consist of only 150 core movie/tv agents at most. The mantra of these negotiations is ‘make it smaller’. That means, of WMA’s 150 agents, and Endeavor’s 100 agents, about 100 from the combined total will have to be let go. And since CAA’s (Creative Artist’s Association) Richard Lovett has pursued a policy of 100% marketshare when it comes to clients, the new WMA-Endeavor is making as its goal to rep only the elite Top 2%.”

What’s that mean? Opportunity! It may seem like a stretch, but consider this. WMA partnered GM with Transformers. That might not turn into huge dollars direct sales dollars, but it did give Chevrolet’s new Camaro a couple hours of on screen time in front of crowds that might actually want to drive the thing. Oh, and it kicked a Mustang’s lilly ass in the flick, and you can’t really ask for more positive branding than that. Not to mention all the good guy robots were GM models. Not bad.

We’re not privy to the money that changed hands for that deal, but look you’ve got to consider these pairings as part of the broader branding picture. It’s as easy as knowing what movies are coming out and convincing the studio and the brand that their products would be just perfect together. Shake hands, kiss cheeks, make a million.

The merger isn’t a sure thing yet, but if it happens there could be a stable of WMA’s brand-deal makers up for hire. They’ll probably want jobs.

More: “Cayman Went: Advertising with Entertainment Roots

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