Icon To The Rescue

JWT entertainment strikes chord with new hires

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%%STORYIMAGE_RIGHT%% Icon Entertainment@ JWT, the branded-entertainment unit within WPP Group's J. Walter Thompson, is making a serious move into music. Music industry vets Joanne Schwartz and Dave Lory, each bringing significant experience in artist management and record label artists & repertoire, have joined Icon fulltime.

Steve Flanders, Icon's president, is positioning this move as his latest effort to leverage a glaring opportunity. His mission is to apply the same core competencies of strategic insight and creative execution that an ad agency offers its traditional clients to the marketing of entertainment brands and creation and packaging of new entertainment properties across all major platforms including TV, film, and music. At the same time, Flanders hopes to offer his brand marketer client base strategic co-marketing and equity opportunities in these entertainment assets.

Music will be an important part of Icon's strategy in light of the cost-cutting that has wracked the industry in the wake of years of declining record sales. "We need to go after the music industry in a big bad way," said Flanders, who joined JWT in September 2002 to launch and build Icon. "We'll do it by working with record companies, individual artists as well as by striking partnerships between various parties."

%%PULLQUOTE_LEFT%% Flanders has recognized the opportunity to supplement the traditional ad agency fee-based revenue model with a commission-based artist management model and potential royalty streams via content equity, such as having points on records.

Schwartz assumes the role of director of business development across all entertainment platforms. Most recently, she was the manager of actress-comedienne Sandra Bernhard. Previously, she was an A&R executive at Warner Brothers Records, where she worked with artists including Eric Clapton and Michael McDonald.

Lory, appointed director of music, has managed acts from the Allman Brothers Band to the late Jeff Buckley. As head of international marketing at Mercury Records, he took artists such as Shania Twain, Kiss and Steve Earle beyond the U.S.

Icon is an executive producer of a four-episode TV series, scheduled to run in March on a soon-to-be-announced cable network. The show features the Icon client the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. All three are mum on specifics about the show's content and its sponsors. Broadway Video, the outfit behind "Saturday Night Live," is the line producer.

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