Interpublic to Buy Stoute's Brand-Entertainment Shop

Translation Expected to Operate as Autonomous Unit Within Holding Co.

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Interpublic Group of Cos. is close to inking a deal to acquire Steve Stoute's branded-entertainment agency, Translation Consulting and Brand Imaging, New York.
Steve Stoute
Steve Stoute

The pact is nearing the final stages, according to executives familiar with the matter, though financial terms of the transaction are unclear. Representatives for Mr. Stoute and Interpublic declined to comment.

Once partnered with Arnell
A former record executive turned urban marketing specialist, Mr. Stoute, 36, launched Translation in late 2003 after a stint at the PASS marketing agency in the '90s, where he partnered with Peter Arnell, now chief executive of Omnicom Group's Arnell Group.

Known for his promotional matchmaking skills, Mr. Stoute has earned a reputation for successfully linking musicians with blue-chip marketers for branded pairings that include Justin Timberlake and McDonald's, Jay-Z and Reebok and Hewlett-Packard and Gwen Stefani.

It's unclear whether Interpublic or Mr. Stoute initiated the talks, but the holding company has been in discussions with Mr. Stoute for the better part of the year, the executives said. Among those personally involved in the discussion is DraftFCB Chairman-CEO Howard Draft. Mr. Draft could not be immediately reached for comment.

Staff of 40 to 50
The parties are still sorting out certain operational kinks, executives said, but Translation, which has a full-time staff of 40 to 50, is expected to operate as an autonomous entity under the Interpublic umbrella, liaising with the company's agencies and their clients on a project basis.

One big question remaining is whether there would be any restrictions on Translation -- which has strong relationships with General Motors Corp. and McDonald's (the latter is affiliated with Omnicom agency DDB and Publicis's Leo Burnett Worldwide, among others) -- from working with clients and agencies outside the holding-company family.
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