Hollywood's oldest talent shop, the 110-year-old William Morris Agency, is partnering with a triumvirate of digital media, wireless and advertising executives to create a joint venture called Agency 3.0, a digital-marketing-services company seeking to marry digital technology to strategically developed content.
That trio of executives includes Peter Adderton, founder of both Boost Mobile and Amp'd Mobile; Greg Johnson, a former chief creative officer at McCann Worldgroup and Digitas; and Steve Stanford, who created rival talent agency ICM's digital media group and who had more recently served as general manager of HBO and AOL's broadband comedy joint venture.
In an interview with Ad Age, Mr. Johnson said TV advertising "is becoming less effective," in part because "it's highly disconnected from the creative process."
His partners' new venture aims to "bring the ad dollars that much closer to the creative process," Mr. Johnson said.
Time for a new approach
"There's a whole new world in the marketing, distribution and monetization of digital media, with unique demands for new approaches to both design and implementation," said Jim Wiatt, William Morris' CEO. "We recently announced a digital-media venture fund, and now with Agency 3.0, we'll be providing services as well as making investments in this sector."
Mr. Stanford, who also founded and served as CEO of Voce premium wireless, noted that thanks to the protracted Writers Guild of America strike (which hinged, aptly enough, on digital distribution of content), the recent upfront advertising presentations made by broadcast TV networks reveal a business that has been totally reshaped by digital. NBC Universal's upfront ad presentation, for example, touted all of the NBC Universal properties, including various cable networks, web operations and amusement parks -- not just its 52-week network-TV schedule.
"People would spend millions on pilots and have no idea if anybody would watch them," Mr. Stanford said. "Today, things have changed; a show that has sponsors already in place has a much better chance of airing."
The new advertising joint venture's chief creative officer will be Scott Anderson, the former creative head and co-founder with Mr. Adderton of Boost Mobile and Amp'd Mobile. Like the rest of the team, he will be based at William Morris' Beverly Hills headquarters.