CAA first-ever talent agency with PR stake

LOS ANGELES: Creative Artists Agency, the talent behemoth which represents celebrities such as Robert DeNiro and Madonna, has acquired a significant percentage of Shepardson Stern + Kaminsky.

LOS ANGELES: Creative Artists Agency, the talent behemoth which represents celebrities such as Robert DeNiro and Madonna, has acquired a significant percentage of Shepardson Stern + Kaminsky.

LOS ANGELES: Creative Artists Agency, the talent behemoth which

represents celebrities such as Robert DeNiro and Madonna, has acquired a

significant percentage of Shepardson Stern + Kaminsky.



CAA’s stake in the PR firm, estimated to be around 40%, is the first

acquisition of a non-core business for the talent agency. It is thought

to be the first time an agency like CAA has invested in a PR

operation.



Earlier this year, ad shop McCann-Erickson forged a similar union with

celebrity PR shop PMK (PRWeek Feb.22).



The deal clearly makes sense for both parties. The NY-based SS+K, whose

capabilities include advertising and crisis and corporate PR, gains

powerful insight into pop-culture trends. Already, two of the firm’s

biggest clients, telecom giant Ameritech and Polo Ralph Lauren, have

inquired about long-term projects involving CAA input. Staffs of both

agencies will brainstorm about how to target certain demographic groups

and compile information about cultural trends.



For CAA, the deal opens a new range of possibilities in terms of

marketing its clients and top executives. ’We’re doing this because we

think the merger of their expertise in branding, advertising and PR and

what we bring in corporate intelligence is a powerful and unique thing,’

said CAA president Richard Lovett. Lovett added that CAA will likely tap

SS+K’s experience with clients in crisis situations.



SS+K generated fee income of dollars 12 million in 1998. Executives

refused to reveal how much cash or stock was exchanged in the deal.



SS+K partner Lenny Stern said the deal would add ’cultural intelligence’

to the firm’s political and research expertise. ’Few people are at the

epicenter of entertainment in the way these guys are,’ he said. ’They

are looking at film, TV and music, and have a sense where consumer taste

is going.’



CAA first worked with SS+K around two years ago, when the talent shop

wanted to examine its image following the departure of founder and

Hollywood power broker Michael Ovitz. Negotiations between the two firms

heated up recently, and the suggestion to formalize the arrangement was

made by Lovett.



SS+K was established by Stern, Robert Shepardson and Mark Kaminsky in

1993. Its clients include Time Warner Cable and Liz Claiborne.



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