Wall joins Immortal as co-chairman, alongside with CEO and founder Happy Walters. He will serve as the architect of a new expansion plan to leverage Immortal's vertical businesses—film, TV, music and talent management—to create new opportunities with brand partners. A division will be created to work across the various product lines. Also, Wall and Walters are on the acquisition trail to roll up other talent management firms and are also holding speculative talks with undisclosed ad agencies and record labels about brokering a joint venture.
"As Jamie Kellner said at [the recent Madison+Vine] conference, in less than five years there may be a 10% to 15% market shift in CPMs in advertising that would have a huge impact on the economic model of television," said Wall, who made his bones, in part, as the producer of the Bob Dylan 30th Anniversary Concert at Madison Square Garden and the Pink Floyd concert at the Berlin Wall. "When everyone else is dealing with the pressure of downsizing, restructuring, or going through the pain or denial of the marketplace, there's always great opportunity."
One of the opportunities lies in the robust live touring business. Immortal produced the successful "Down from the Mountain" tour based on the "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" soundtrack, the 2001 Best Album Grammy winner.
Wall will look to partner closely with advertisers to create long-term co-ownership and marketing platforms for them while providing a viable launching pad for breaking new artists, to whom consolidated radio has turned a blind eye.
%%PULLQUOTE_LEFT%% "Due to fragmentation, more and more advertiser money is going into alternative businesses like live [touring]," explained Wall. "I want to invest heavier in creating more of these lifestyle or demographically pure tours—an urban tour, a gay tour, a Christian tour and a Hispanic tour."
As far as Immortal's acquisition strategy, Wall said the emphasis will be to not just buy up other talent management companies but to build bench strength from Mad Ave. "You see the talent agencies like CAA and William Morris employing fulltime Madison Avenue professionals...but you don't generally see the talent management companies doing it," admitted Wall. "We have enough Hollywood people."
One Mad Ave operative likes what he sees. "We like that Immortal will have multiple entertainment platforms and assets which our clients can leverage in one deal," said Guy McCarter, senior VP-director of OMD Entertainment. "Representing both talent and events creates interesting integrated opportunities for brand marketers."
As for its possible role as broker between the record companies and the ad agencies, Wall says it's very much in the speculative stage with any deal way down the road. "We're just in the brainstorming stage, trying to see how we could generate a win-win-win for the consumer, the advertiser, and the recording artist."
Other Hollywood management firms that are increasingly focusing on the branded entertainment space include The Firm and Mosaic Media Group.
Immortal's eclectic client base ranges from Fleetwood Mac to Ken Griffey Jr. to "Friends" star David Schwimmer.