Forbes list shows PR's Hollywood power

LOS ANGELES: Forbes magazine released its top 100 celebrity list for 2002 last week, and a PRWeek analysis of the agencies behind the megawatt names shines light on the growing importance of entertainment connections for PR agencies.

LOS ANGELES: Forbes magazine released its top 100 celebrity list for 2002 last week, and a PRWeek analysis of the agencies behind the megawatt names shines light on the growing importance of entertainment connections for PR agencies.

Venerable celebrity heavyweight PMK/HBH led the pack in terms of quantity of stars, repping nine list members, including top-tenners Mariah Carey and Tom Hanks. They were followed by BWR's six members, and Rogers & Cowan/WS' five.

Interpublic-owned agencies dominated the list as a group, bringing in a total of 17 celebrities between Weber Shandwick Worldwide's Rogers & Cowan/ WS, Pat Kingsley's PMK/HBH, and Bragman Nyman Cafarelli.

While the publicity pros who represent these clients are quick to dismiss the importance of such lists, the prevalence of Interpublic agencies in Hollywood highlights a growing interest in finding ways to tap into entertainment properties on behalf of corporate clients.

The field of entertainment marketing has become crowded and competitive in the past few years, as businesses seek lower-cost ways of reaching audiences and building brands. Talent agents, advertisers, product-placement companies, and PR agencies are all vying to play the lucrative role of middleman between Hollywood and corporate America, and a key selling point has become access - who can pick up the phone and get top names to listen to corporate deals. While such access is little guarantee of success, it does provide a competitive edge.

"I can get a hearing more easily with the agency than I can without," confirmed BWR's Henry Eshelman, who recently took charge of a new entertainment marketing division. BWR is owned by Ogilvy PR, which is part of the WPP Group.

With a growing roster of A-list actors, directors, and producers, Interpublic seems poised to win a top role in the burgeoning field - or at least become the shop with the largest star Rolodex.

HOLLYWOOD'S TOP PR SHOPS AND THEIR STARS

PMK/HBH (9), including Tom Hanks, Lisa Kudrow, Sandra Bullock, Rosie O'Donnell, Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Aniston, Mariah Carey

BWR (6), including Ben Affleck, Adam Sandler, Reese Witherspoon, Courtney Cox-Arquette

Rogers & Cowan/WS (5), including Bruce Willis, Jerry Bruckheimer, Jennifer Lopez

Wolf/Kasteler (4), including Britney Spears, Frankie Muniz, Meg Ryan, Samuel L. Jackson

Bragman Nyman Cafarelli (3), including Cameron Diaz, Milla Jovovich

NOTE: the numbers in parenthesis denote how many top-100 stars the shop has SOURCE: PRWeek analysis of Forbes' top 100 celebrity list.

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