Carat Entertainment to Be Headed By Michael Yudin

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LOS ANGELES -- Aegis Group's Carat has formed Carat Entertainment, a new in-house unit that will develop branded entertainment projects for the media-buying company's clients. Michael Yudin has been selected to run the entertainment division.
Michael Yudin will head the new Carat Entertainment.

Carat Entertainment is part of Carat's National Broadcast Group and reports into Andy Donchin, executive vice president and director of national broadcast.

Yearlong evaluation

"We have been evaluating this space for about a year," Mr. Donchin said. "Our question was not if we should enter the space, but how."

Through his independent production company, MY Entertainment, Mr. Yudin most recently produced AutoRox, an automobile awards show that aired last month on cable channel Spike TV, part of Viacom. His company also produced John Cleese: Wine for the Confused and The Bar Mitzvah of Comedy Central.

Before that, Mr. Yudin served as president of Montreal-based Telescene Entertainment, as well as senior vice president of sponsored programming at Viacom Entertainment and later Paramount Television.

He also spent 15 years handling media and programming for clients that included the Coca-Cola Co. and Miller Beer, and served as a producer at Reeves Communications and Alan Landsburg Productions.

Growing trend

By starting its own branded entertainment arm, Carat follows in the footsteps of other agency-owned entertainment production ventures, such as WPP's MindShare Entertainment, Omnicom Group's Full Circle Entertainment and Interpublic Group of Cos.' Magna Global Entertainment.

"The role of media-buying companies has expanded enormously in recent years, and they are now the ideal place in which to develop branded entertainment," said Mr. Yudin, who will be based out of Carat's New York office. "It's absolutely critical that marketers find an alternative to 30-second spots. Our whole presence will be to develop the right projects that fit the needs of our clients."

Carat's clients include Procter & Gamble Co., Pfizer, Adidas, Philips, Hyundai Motors' Hyundai and Kia, Black & Decker and Boston Market.

Not a production company

Mr. Yudin stressed, however, that Carat Entertainment will not operate as a production company, but rather will develop programming for clients that third-party companies will produce. It will also accept pitches from outside producers or creatives for projects that might appeal to the company's clients.

"To develop in a creative vacuum doesn't make sense," Mr. Yudin said. "We are going to be open to everyone and everything. This is another buyer in the marketplace that needs and wants to work with the creative community."

While some companies like MindShare have brokered exclusive distribution deals with networks such as ABC, Carat Entertainment said it has no plans to seek out exclusive arrangements with distribution outlets or production companies.

'Focal point for ideas'

"We determined that the most advantageous position for our current clients, and prospective clients, is to become a focal point for creative ideas, regardless of where they come from," Mr. Donchin said. "Carat Entertainment is structured so that we can work directly, or indirectly, with any creative developer, talent agency, programmer or distributor. We can work with everybody and anybody for content and distribution. If an idea is right for one of our clients, there are no external barriers to success."
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