CAA Recruiters Target Madison Avenue

Three of Latest Hires Come From Wieden & Kennedy, JWT and Publicis

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LOS ANGELES -- The Creative Artists Agency is getting a little more, well, creative when it comes to working with its marketing clients.
Among CAA's latest hires are (from top to bottom) Jae Goodman, former senior VP and executive creative director, Publicis & Hal Riney; Jesse Coulter, former art director at Wieden & Kennedy, New York; and Andrew Ault, former creative director at JWT, New York.

New hires

The talent agency has added three staffers to CAA Marketing, its corporate marketing group. Only this time, instead of yet another agent or executive from Hollywood, the company has turned to the advertising world for its newest recruits.

Jesse Coulter, who most recently worked as an art director at Wieden & Kennedy, New York, and Andrew Ault, who was a creative director at JWT, New York, recently joined the company. They follow the hiring of Jae Goodman, who joined CAA as creative director this summer after serving as senior VP and executive creative director at Publicis & Hal Riney, San Francisco.

CAA is hoping the additions will help the agency come up with new ideas for its roster of corporate clients -- which includes Coca-Cola Co., Procter & Gamble, Delta Airlines, Visa, Abercrombie & Fitch and Hollister, Harley-Davidson, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Boost Mobile and Hasbro -- looking for ways to reach consumers through entertainment projects.

Branded-entertainment projects

All three executives have already been developing branded-entertainment concepts for clients. Mr. Ault previously worked with JetBlue, while Mr. Coulter has worked on Nike’s Jordan brand. Mr. Goodman helped develop 24 Hour Fitness’ tie-in with NBC’s reality show “The Biggest Loser” and co-created and executive produced programming for Fox Sports and “American Oddball,” an SMS marketing program for Virgin Mobile. They’ve also worked together over the years on projects.

Mr. Ault said joining CAA Marketing wasn’t about wanting to become an agent. “We all got along pretty well and enjoyed working together and bouncing ideas off each other,” he said. “It was about the chance to do that full time.”

CAA’s new hires may help answer the lingering question observers in Hollywood and on Madison Avenue have long been asking: Just what do the talent agencies do for marketers that their advertising or PR agencies or product placement firms aren’t doing for them?
Among CAA's latest hires are (from top to bottom) Jae Goodman, former senior VP and executive creative director, Publicis & Hal Riney; Jesse Coulter, former art director at Wieden & Kennedy, New York; and Andrew Ault, former creative director at JWT, New York.

'Create stuff from scratch'

“We’re going to work with our friends in the ad-agency world to create strategic content for brands,” Mr. Goodman said upon his hire. “Whether we’re extending the brand idea into films, TV shows, mobisodes, concept albums, concert tours, games, installations -- whatever -- we can work together to create stuff from scratch, or we can find meaningful partnerships to bring the idea to life.”

Mr. Goodman stresses that CAA Marketing won’t be competing with traditional ad agencies. “We’re really clear about our collaborative approach. It is perfectly reasonable that an ad agency would come up with an idea that is entertainment related and call us and ask us for help. It’s very efficient for us to walk three doors down the hall to a motion-picture expert, or four doors down the hall to a TV expert or five doors down to a music expert and say, "We have an idea, what do you think of the idea and who do you know to execute it?’”

CAA has already been bolstering its ties with Madison Avenue. Last year, it made Lenny Stern, a founding partner at New York-based advertising agency SS&K, the head of its corporate-marketing arm, while allowing the executive to remain a partner at his own firm.

Big projects

It’s not as if CAA doesn’t have a few branded-entertainment projects to tout. It brokered Coke’s connection with “American Idol,” the Van’s Warped Tour, P&G’s “Home Made Simple” TV show, and next summer’s “Transformers” movie, based on Hasbro’s toy line.

Still, CAA is hoping to make marketers feel a little easier in dealing with some familiar faces, rather than an agent they may not know, when trying to consider how to play with Hollywood. At the same time, the agency is hoping its new hires will help further educate it on how to work with marketers and get them to feel comfortable on greenlighting new projects.

“We understand brands and we understand the way that they work with each other,” Mr. Coulter said. “It’s a learned way of thinking. We’re trying to bring that thinking to what we’re doing over here.”

And the new additions to its corporate-marketing team are looking forward to being able to work with CAA’s more traditional agents in the film, TV, music, video-game and other entertainment areas and work with the talent they represent.

'Anything but advertising'

“Everyone here has a certain expertise,” Mr. Coulter said. “And to be in a room full of people who know what they’re talking about, it’s efficient but also inspiring.” The three call what they’re already developing for clients “anything but advertising.”

“We didn’t get into advertising to make ads, necessarily,” Mr. Coulter said. “We got into advertising to develop pop culture. This is a place where we can really do that.”
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