"We are not an advertising agency," said Johnny Levin, a VP in the corporate advisory division of the Beverly Hills, Calif.-based talent and literary agency, which has just picked up the Rio Suite Hotel & Casino as a client.
Translation: Even though Morris will focus on "long-term strategic entertainment planning and programming, as well as extended brand marketing," as per the official announcement, it will not be doing for the Rio in Las Vegas what Creative Artists Agency did most conspicuously for Coca-Cola Co. during the Michael Ovitz years: produce advertising. Rio does that in-house.
What the 100-year-old Morris knows best is entertainment.
"We deal with how companies interface with the entertainment industry," said Mr. Levin, adding there's good reason for such interfacing. "The marketing prowess of the entertainment industry is probably unmatched . . . and its channels of distribution are global. If you can find a way to efficiently and effectively attach your brands to these entertainment products, it can be a good thing for your business.
"Entertainment is known for its sizzle," said Mr. Levin, "but there's a lot of steak there, too."
The agency played a role in bringing about the $30 million Tommy Hilfiger/
Miramax Films cross-promotion for the upcoming horror flick "The Faculty."
The Rio is in the midst of a $200 million expansion, adding a convention center/performance venue. Morris will help it bolster its positioning as an international entertainment destination.
More than merely lining up acts for the Rio, the agency will assist in forming strategic alliances within Hollywood and creating content that can be branded and marketed around the world. For example, an idea for a TV show based out of the Rio is being kicked around.