Madison + Vine: Marrs opens new shop

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A former top executive of Tribal DDB is launching a new cross-platform strategic entertainment marketing company called Brand Entertainment Studios, operating in New York and Los Angeles.

Steve Marrs, former president-chief operating officer of the Omnicom Group interactive agency, has morphed RAW Interactive, an independent multimedia marketing-services company acquired in July, into Brand Entertainment. The company is positioned squarely at the intersection of Madison + Vine and will work closely with ad agencies and media companies, and directly with clients, to explore and develop marketing initiatives that encompass film, TV programming, music concert tours and performer tie-ins. It will also include e-commerce and e-business applications, Web content, interactive marketing and promotion.

"Advertisers are still looking for different and unique ways to get to consumers," said Mr. Marrs, 35, president-CEO at Brand Entertainment. "The Madison and Vine phenomenon is really just getting back to the roots of advertising, where it started. You're finding content and shaping the relevancy of that."

Brand Entertainment isn't your typical start-up. When it acquired RAW Interactive, Brand Entertainment also acquired the business of IBM Corp., UPS, Ford Motor Co. and its credit arm, Ford Financial-blue-chip clients in the same situation as the majority of the nation's marketers. "If advertising continues to be on the decline, and the fragmentation of the viewer is well documented, then everybody has to look for unique and effective ways of getting their message out," Mr. Marrs said.

"Consumers have clearly become more difficult to communicate with," said Leslie Benway, manager of IBM's Worldwide Server Group, Internal and Business Partner Events. "We're always looking for new and effective ways to reach our core audience. The entertainment industry provides an opportunity for both brand and promotional marketing programs."

`rough time'

Mr. Marrs, who founded Tribal DDB in 1998 along with Matt Freeman, left the agency in April of this year. He and his partners-Bill Goldstein, former co-chairperson and CEO of RAW and now Brand Entertainment's partner-executive creative director, and Alexis Rodriguez, RAW's former co-chairperson and chief creative officer, now partner-chief creative officer of Brand Entertainment, have already started working on relationships with leading production, music and talent agencies.

"It may be a rough time in the [ad] industry," said Mr. Marrs, "but believe it or not, this is the right time to start a new venture in this space."

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