Vantage Point For Branded Content

Roll-up done, execs named

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%%STORYIMAGE_RIGHT%% Now that American Vantage Media has completed its roll-up of media and entertainment companies, its executive suite has been filled out with the naming of several managers to run its branded-content efforts.

AVM CEO Steve Bannon and Vice Chairman Dave Schulte have tapped Mike Wiese as VP-branded partnerships; Adam Asherson as VP-branded TV and Seth Berman as director-branded partnerships.

Wiese joined American Vantage when his former company, Hypnotic, was acquired at the end of last year. Wiese's charge will be to lead new-business efforts on Madison Avenue for branded TV and film projects. He'll team with Asherson, formerly a TV manager at Beverly Hills-based talent management and production outfit The Firm, who'll be responsible for working with Hollywood producers and content creators to develop properties. Berman, also formerly of The Firm, will be Wiese's second-in-command, also focusing on new business.

AVM's other properties that were a part of the roll-up includes YaYa Media, an interactive gaming company, and Wellspring Media, an indie-film distributor. Hypnotic is a producer of Fox breakout hit "The O.C." and "The Bourne Identity" with Matt Damon, which was directed by Hypnotic principal Doug Liman. The company, which had been previously backed by Vivendi Universal Entertainment, will continue to leverage its track record in the branded entertainment field, which included programs like the Chrysler Million Dollar Film Festival and "Terry Tate" for Reebok.

%%PULLQUOTE_LEFT%% "Brands will get involved in the development process anywhere they're comfortable in getting involved," said Wiese, who's based in New York. "We're going to be focused more on storytelling and less on the events and other extensions. Not to say that's not a good place to be—we just have a different focus." CMDFF and "Terry Tate", which were executed under the purview of former Hypnotic execs Doug Scott and Andy Marks, were successful in generating buzz through an integrated marketing approach with a strong PR focus.

The unit already has several projects for brands such as MasterCard, Chrysler and LVMH Moet Hennessy-Louis Vuitton in the works. AVM has also joined with Merrill Lynch to develop an interactive "edu-tainment" program for key customer segments.

AVM is a unit of American Vantage Cos., based in Las Vegas, which has holdings in the restaurant business.

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