Edelman Consolidates Entertainment

Ex-UTA exec Thompson on board

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%%STORYIMAGE_RIGHT%% PR agency Edelman is aiming to become a more aggressive player in the branded-entertainment business. The New York-based shop has drafted Ferris Thompson, 45, to head a unit that will service clients such as Nissan and Pfizer(manufacturer of Viagra), two Edelman clients known to be examining closer ties with the entertainment industry.

Named Edelman Entertainment Marketing Group, Thompson's unit will have a presence in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, where he will be based. While Edelman already has divisions servicing sports marketing and connecting clients to TV properties, Thompson's role will be to centrally broaden and deepen Edelman's relationships with Hollywood's creative community that will result in brands becoming more fully involved in content creation and integration.

Thompson, who is becoming president of the unit, is a former head of entertainment marketing at United Talent Agency and a former VP of corporate marketing and strategic alliances at Universal Studios. "Edelman sits in a great agnostic position that allows it to seek out strategic ideas for the client," said Thompson.

While media agencies and creative shops have traditionally had the ears and trust of brands as the :30 TV commercial has been historically the linchpin of brand marketers' efforts, search for nontraditional solutions has given below-the-line shops such as PR agencies and newcomers like branded-entertainment consultants the forum to get closer to clients.

%%PULLQUOTE_LEFT%% Thompson helped Peter Arnell, CEO of Omnicom Group's Arnell Group, to package the multimillion-dollar agreement between singer Celine Dion and Daimler Chrysler, a deal that was lauded at the time but turned controversial when the commercial campaign with the Canadaian singer was not well received by the automakers' dealers. The automaker ultimately retrenched from that allegiance.

He was also involved in putting Procter & Gamble together with Men's Pro Beach Volleyball to promote Old Spice in the mid-'90s and matched sports-clothing company Quicksilver with the Surfer Girl brand. While at Universal, Thompson formed alliances between Dodge, the theme park and the motion picture unit.

Thompson takes over the entertainment practice from Peter Land, who as exec VP-GM, has led Edelman's sports-and-entertainment-marketing practice in New York. Land will continue to lead the sports practice and remains involved in other divisions of the agency as well.

Edelman's previous branded-entertainment initiatives have included garnering exposure for Puerto Rico in ABC's "The Bachelorette" as well as gaining Starbucks brand exposure in HBO's public affairs drama "K Street."

Other entertainment clients that Thompson will inherit include CBS Sports, DreamWorks SKG, General Motors and Warner Bros. Home Video. Other clients such as pharma giant Pfizer have been looking more closely at grassroots marketing efforts such as buzz marketing and product integration.

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