Is Stoute Starting Another Agency?

Report Says Urban-Marketing Specialist Is Partnering With Jay-Z

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NEW YORK ( -- It was just months ago that Steve Stoute sold his branded entertainment shop, Translation Consultation & Brand Imaging, to the Interpublic Group of Cos. for a reported $10 million to $15 million. But the former record executive is poised to make another major marketing move --- this time with rapper Jay-Z.
Steve Stoute
Steve Stoute

Silicon Alley Insider, a digital business blog, first reported the news of a possible deal today. A spokeswoman for Jay-Z at Universal Music said "nothing is finalized," while a spokesman for Mr. Stoute denied the report.

Celebrity and brand pairings
Mr. Stoute, former record executive turned urban-marketing guru, is the marketer behind many celebrity and brand pairings, including match-ups such as Justin Timberlake and McDonald's, Jay-Z and Reebok and Hewlett-Packard and Gwen Stefani. Most recently, he brokered a deal between R&B star Beyonce and Samsung to make a B'phone, a limited-edition cellphone that comes preloaded with photos and videos of the singer.

When the Translation deal was first announced by Interpublic in October, Mr. Stoute was to remain at the helm of the agency, which will operate as a stand-alone unit, with Keith Sherwood, his former director-business development, as chief operating officer.

It is unclear whether a deal with Jay-Z would mean Mr. Stoute will leave Translation, or whether it could be part of a larger holding-company deal.

Roth's tease
A spokesman for IPG had no comment. But at the recent Global Media & Communications Conference in New York, Interpublic Chairman-CEO Michael Roth hinted an announcement about Translation was imminent.

"We'll have some announcements about Translation and what we intend to do with them in the marketplace as well," Mr. Roth told investors.

Meanwhile, Jay-Z, who currently services as the president of Def Jam, could be looking for other opportunities. According to the New York Daily News, the rapper's negotiations for a new contract are currently stalled because of disagreements over money.