EBay's New Entertainment Marketing Auction

No re-up on CAA deal, reaches out to others

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%%STORYIMAGE_RIGHT%% Creative Artists Agency, one of several Wilshire Boulevard tenpercenteries fighting for more traction with brand marketers, will no longer be collecting a check from online auction giant eBay.

An eBay spokesman confirmed that the company has "amicably parted ways with CAA." He declined to elaborate beyond saying that the contract for entertainment consulting services from the talent agency had expired and eBay had "reached a natural point to make a change."

According to an exec close to the situation, eBay's decision not to renew its partnership with CAA should not be interpreted as the San Jose, Calif.-based company losing interest in the marketing-through-entertainment arena. To the contrary, this exec went on to say that eBay senior execs have begun to reach out to other entertainment marketing companies, including CAA's competitors, to discuss potential opportunities.

Ebay CEO Meg Whitman is in the midst of shuffling her senior marketing ranks. In April, the company announced that Gary Briggs, VP-consumer marketing, had been reassigned to run eBay's Canadian operations. Another exec close to the situation said eBay is close to bringing on a successor to Briggs.

%%PULLQUOTE_LEFT%% EBay has been an early advocate of the branded entertainment space. The company, in conjunction with Sony Pictures Television, had been trying to get a syndicated TV show off the ground under the moniker of "eBay TV," but the project has yet come to fruition.

Meanwhile, eBay's decision to not renew its contract with CAA comes as the talent agencies deal with the persistent criticism—much of it from Madison Avenue—that they are inherently prevented by their core clientele to put brands' needs first and that they are still too transaction-oriented and not as dedicated to strategic thinking and execution as they need to be.

The original contract between the two parties was for a six-month period, which was subsequently re-upped for another year, according to one executive.

A CAA spokeswoman remained optimistic that the relationship could be rekindled. "Ebay is a great brand and a great business. We look forward to exploring opportunities to help them build both moving forward."

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