UTA Offers Hollywood Talent to Tongal's Crowdsourced Ad Campaigns

Companies See an Opportunity to Make Brands More Agile, Campaigns More Cost-Efficient

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Tongal wants to pair brands with UTA's talent and its creators, who have produced campaigns like a Minecraft-style animated video for Cheerios.
Tongal wants to pair brands with UTA's talent and its creators, who have produced campaigns like a Minecraft-style animated video for Cheerios. Credit: Courtesy Tongal

Tongal may be best known as a site that lets anyone -- you, your grandma, your mailman, anyone -- pitch campaign ideas to brands that can then greenlight that work. But now the campaign crowdsourcing company is bringing more established talent into the fold.

Tongal has signed a deal with one of Hollywood's biggest agencies, United Talent Agency, so that brands working with Tongal's talent can add the talent agency's roster of actors, directors, writers and producers to the mix. For UTA, the deal has the added benefit of bringing its attention to creators from Tongal's community that would have otherwise stayed under the radar.

As part of the arrangement, a marketer may approach UTA to work with one of its actors or actresses, then source the idea for the work from Tongal. Or a brand may see a campaign idea on Tongal, which can range from original branded series to one-off videos, and arrange for one of UTA's celebrities to help to promote the campaign.

Of course, marketers have always been able to approach UTA to work with its talent. The arrangement, however, is designed to increase the parties' familiarity with each other and to smooth the way to working together.

Tongal Cofounder and Chief Creative Officer James DeJulio said the two companies also want to work with brands to develop new intellectual property like animated characters conceived by Tongal's community that could be voiced by UTA's talent.

"This isn't designed to forever change the way that everyone operates in this space," said Brent Weinstein, partner and head of digital media at UTA. Instead the arrangement is designed to connect "a large group of creators on one side with a large group of brands on another who may have otherwise not known about each other, never known about opportunities that may exist between one another and maybe wouldn't necessarily trust the process enough to engage and try."

Like all things social, Tongal was built to level the playing field, in this case among brands, creators and the ideas those creators have for brand campaigns. Marketers may adhere to a drawn-out process of researching their customer base, soliciting pitches from a variety of agencies, testing those ideas against focus groups and then identifying the talent to produce and star in those campaigns months before any of the work debuts. But with brands pressured to be producing more content to distribute in more places -- from TV to Facebook to YouTube to the brands' own sites -- Tongal and UTA see an opportunity to make brands more agile and their content more cost-efficient.

"Brands can widen the net in terms of the types of creative people they can work with," Mr. Weinstein said. "They can still work with extraordinarily talented people and in some cases brand-name people, but they can have a lot more options in terms of the number of artists they have access to, especially for a variety of different budgets and price points."

UTA and Tongal will work with brands directly, and either side will be able to instigate a brand deal with both sides splitting the revenue. Mssrs. Weinstein and DeJulio declined to discuss the terms of the deal, such as how money will be split.

The pair have yet to sign a brand deal that ties into their arrangement, but Mr. DeJulio said a deal "with a major studio and a new channel" may happen in the first quarter of 2016.

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