Omnicom Goes Hollywood

NEW YORK — Omnicom Group is extending its reach into Hollywood with the acquisition of product-placement/promotion agency Davie Brown Entertainment of Santa Monica, Calif., linking itself more closely to the interests of chief client PepsiCo.

Terms of the deal, inked last week, were not disclosed.

Davie Brown, a 26-person shop led by Jim Davie and Brad Brown, has been a primary driver of entertainment-related promotions for Pepsi, including a multiyear alliance with Lucasfilm’s Star Wars movies and recent splashes with Tomb Raider and pop star Britney Spears. It will operate as a standalone unit within Omnicom’s Diversified Agency Services division and report to chairman/CEO Tom Harrison.

“More and more we’re seeing clients branding with entertainment strategy,” said Harrison, who expects to make more acquisitions in this area. “We see working with Davie Brown as DAS consultants in creating that strategy.”
Despite the strong Pepsi ties, Harrison said the buy was not driven by any one client. Omnicom evps Bruce Reditt and Tom Watson also brokered the deal.

The deal brings Omnicom closer to territory where rivals have already made tracks. Interpublic Group of Cos. owns Los Angeles public relations firms PMK — a powerful image broker working with Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, Matt Damon and Johnny Depp, among others — as well as Huvane Baum Halls, whose clients include Jennifer Aniston, Gwyneth Paltrow and Antonio Banderas.

The practice of embedding brands into content, which has grown with the rise of TV ad clutter and ad-skipping technologies such as TiVo, promises mutual benefits: Studios can offset spiraling production/marketing costs, while clients enjoy the cachet associated with celebrity and style.

Davie Brown partner Mark Owens, who along with Tera Hanks rises to evp, said the deal will enable the shop to grow its core client base. “It will allow us to remain entrepreneurial while getting the helpful guidance in running the business.” —with Noreen O’Leary