IPG Keen on Gaining Entertainment Link

NEW YORK Interpublic Group, in a bid to catch up to competitors in the entertainment marketing field, is in final negotiations to acquire Translation Consultation & Brand Imaging, a three-year-old shop run by former Interscope Records honcho Steve Stoute, sources said.

IPG has made an offer to Stoute, a former partner at Arnell Group, and a deal could be done in a few weeks. The No. 3 holding company plans to buy Translation wholly and operate it as a freestanding entity, sources said.

As part of IPG, Translation would gain access to hundreds of clients and could expand beyond its sole office in New York. The shop, with estimated revenue of $5-10 million and about 50 staffers, shares a major client with IPG: General Motors.

“Steve has friends in high places,” said Ogilvy & Mather’s Doug Scott, who worked with Stoute on Reebok’s “Terry Tate, Office Linebacker” campaign in 2003 when Stoute was at Arnell and Scott at Hypnotic. “He’s a credible marketer and a creative individual who is able to sit at the table with senior marketers at Fortune 100 companies.”

Stoute is “really smart. His thing is clearly the urban hip-hop thing,” said Claude Grunitzy, editor of Trace magazine.

Stoute did not return calls; an IPG rep had no comment.

Omnicom owns Platinum Rye, which connects celebrities with brands. WPP generally tackles talent negotiation for programming via the entertainment units of GroupM, MindShare and Mediaedge:cia. WPP also has a stake in The Weinstein Co. that gives its clients first crack at writing brands into scripts.