Madison+Vine: Miramax and Mother ink content deal

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Miramax, a Hollywood studio known for its maverick leadership and Oscar-bait features, has signed a first-look deal for creative content with Mother, New York, the U.S. offspring of a red-hot British ad agency.

The first-of-its-kind agreement, which starts immediately, beds the companies on everything from brand-integrated entertainment to new property generation. "They're wickedly creative," said Lori Sale, the studio's exec VP-promotions. "We're tapping into their brainpower so that we can create new things together."

It could also potentially open up new revenue streams for Miramax, which will also employ Mother as a consultant on its film releases, giving the studio creative and marketing ideas and, in some cases, helping to execute those. They also may root out any Miramax property, from licensing or publishing or any other division, and shepherd it into a consumer product brand, Ms. Sale said.

Conversely, an idea that comes from Mother could become a TV or film property or a line of character-based merchandise. The content could be created on behalf of a Mother client, or as a non-brand-based idea.

"We're not all of the sudden going to become a company of screenwriters," said Andrew Deitchman, one of the four partners of Mother, New York. "But we think this is one way of moving forward. It's experimental. "

Miramax chief Harvey Weinstein set up the intial meeting with Mother about six months ago and has been key in moving the relationship along. "Harvey is instrumental in every relationship we have," said Ms. Sale.

Miramax, as well as most Hollywood studios, works with a roster of ad agencies and media-buying companies for their film slates. They may continue to do so, even with Mother on retainer, Ms. Sale said. Miramax spent $195 million in media advertising its films in the first nine months of 2003. Publicis Groupe's Zenith Media handles media buying.

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