New Networking and Deal-Making Parley Set for May

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LOS ANGELES -- The L.A. Office, a West Coast consultancy, is launching an invite-only conference that will put marketers and industry analysts in front of senior entertainment executives for networking and potential deal making.
Mitch Litvak, president of the L.A. Office, is launching the new branded entertainment conference.

The conference, called Industry Insights Forum, is scheduled for May in a yet-to-be-determined location in Northern California’s wine country. It's the flip side of a gathering called Roadshow that the L.A. Office has hosted for the past eight years -- at that conference, executives from Hollywood's film studio, TV networks, music labels and video-game companies roll out their upcoming slates to the marketing community in hopes of sparking interest in co-promotions and other tie-ins.

No speakers confirmed

The Industry Insights Forum will put marketers from automotive, fast food, retail, packaged goods and wireless companies in the spotlight. Talks are ongoing with executives, who are expected to give an overview of their categories and details on their specific businesses. No speakers have confirmed yet. The goal is to give the assembled entertainment honchos an idea of how the two worlds can collide.

"It will be about trends, what's going on in the marketplace and how that affects entertainment marketing," said Mitch Litvak, president of the L.A. Office. "It'll be industry snapshots that are intended to be good resources for people in the entertainment industry."

While there are numerous entertainment marketing conferences where Hollywood presents its wares to potential partners, there haven't been any so far to put the marketers on stage.

Analytical category overview

Mr. Litvak said he intends to follow up each presentation with an analyst who will give a statistical overview of that category, acting as an impartial voice of information. He's in talks with several companies about filling that role, though he hasn't settled on one yet. Mr. Litvak also is nailing down sponsors. His Roadshow has had sponsorships from Time Warner's AOL, Sears, Google, Heineken and a number of trade publications including Advertising Age.

The new conference grew from queries to the L.A. Office from entertainment executives about where to go for the best analysis of certain hot categories of business, Mr. Litvak said. It will launch at a time when the entertainment industry is more concerned than ever with finding co-marketing partners for its films, TV shows, music, video games, DVDs and other content.

"Any kind of inside scoop I can get from marketers would help me to understand what their needs are," said Rob Souriall, vice president of marketing at the Walt Disney Co.'s Hollywood Records. "It would make me a better marketer and a more educated potential partner."

Feeding in questions

Mr. Souriall and a handful of other entertainment executives from networks and film studios have been feeding Mr. Litvak questions and discussion topics that they think will round out the conference and make it more meaningful than the plethora of business gatherings already in existence.

Much of the value of a conference like Industry Insights Forum will be in the networking, Mr. Souriall said. The gathering is scheduled for two days in either Napa or Sonoma Valley, Calif., and will be limited to about 200 attendees. The speakers will cover travel, financial services, technology, snack foods and other potential tie-in categories.

Because the conference is by invitation only, Mr. Litvak said he aims to keep it at a senior level so that those who attend are in decision-making positions. Invitations will start arriving this week to entertainment executives.

The Roadshow

The L.A. Office's Roadshow, held over three days in Los Angeles each fall, has grown from just more than 100 attendees to about 1,000, from entertainment firms, marketers, ad agencies, media companies and related businesses. A London conference was added a few years ago. The L.A. Office also compiles subscription-driven lists and databases on tie-in-ready entertainment properties and Hollywood contacts. Mr. Litvak consults for both entertainment companies and marketers, from Starbucks and the Coca-Cola Co. to New Line Cinema and the Disney Channel.
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