Name: Michael Kassan
Who he is: Chief executive of Media Link, an advertising and branded entertainment consultancy based in Los Angeles. His retainer clients include Unilever, Home Depot, TV Guide, and Dennis Publishing.
Where he's from: Kassan in his current incarnation is plying his eclectic skill set developed both as an entertainment lawyer and also as a senior Madison Avenue media services executive. Kassan was president and chief operating officer at what was then Interpublic Group of Cos.' Western Initiative Media Worldwide, the name of which was eventually abbreviated to Initiative Media Worldwide.
%%PULLQUOTE_RIGHT%% What he's done: After a controversial split with IPG, Kassan has bounced back by refashioning himself over the past five years as one of the early advocates of branded entertainment, carving out a niche as a McKinsey-esque strategist that "puts me as much at the corner of Wall Street and Madison as at the corner of Madison and Vine." Kassan was a strategic mover in WPP's acquisition and absorption of Cordiant. Kassan is also looking to orchestrate deals in the branded entertainment space. "I think the ultimate financing will come from joint ventures and alliances between Hollywood and Madison Avenue because the whole space around advertiser-funded programming is going to need outside capital at some point. I don't believe ad holding companies would or should take producer risks." Kassan also played an integral role in General Motors' Pontiac GTO integration into Revolution Studios' 2002 Vin Diesel blockbuster, "XXX."
What's next: Kassan is branching out into content creation with a London company called Fact Based Communications on "Fashion House," a successful European show that is being brought to the U.S. Nokia sponsored the European version. Kassan also plans on staffing up. "I can't get up any earlier or go to sleep any later."
Stock-in-trade: "My different career experiences offer me the ability to speak both languages [of marketing and entertainment]."