IQ News: Casting Site Showcases Talent

In a bid to hype its new Internet casting site, has chosen eight winners from an online talent search to appear in its $1 million TV spot during the Academy Awards on March 26. The 90-second spot, directed by Spike Lee, premieres March 21 at the New York and Santa Monica, Calif.-based company’s Hollywood launch party.
Designed as a business-to-business destination linking aspiring dancers, musicians, singers, models and actors with casting professionals, managers, agents and video production companies, features e-mail, chat rooms, bulletin boards, advice columns and tutorials, said Edward Menicheschi, chief marketing officer.
“We feel the Internet allows us to mediate [the entertainment] market more efficiently,” he said. “We think this is an underserved market.” He envisions sponsorships with fashion, cosmetics, mainstream marketers and computer companies, adding, “We’re not just a pure banner play site.”
For a one-time $75 fee and $9.95 a month, members can create secured digital portfolios with photos, a video, bio and more. Industry professionals can search the site free to find talent. does not serve as an agent, manager or financial intermediary. “There is a system [of agents and management] in place that already works,” Menicheschi said. “We put buyers and sellers together in a neutral setting.” He claimed the site, which launched last week, has 5,000 members.
With $35 million in funding, the 72-employee company has launched a media blitz including print, online and TV, spearheaded by Gardner-Nelson Project, New York. An 8-to-10 city tour is in the works as well. Branding partners include New York-based Razorfish for identity and user interface design; Freestyle Interactive, San Francisco, for banner ads; iballs, New York, for online media; and Carat Media, New York, and Solomon Strategic, New York, for brand analysis. n