Agency, executive launch UEG
United Talent Agency is beefing up its branded entertainment efforts, partnering with marketing exec Jarrod Moses to launch United Entertainment Group.The Gotham-based shingle will operate independently from UTA and focus on developing and producing entertainment properties for consumer brands seeking to court customers in nontraditional ways. That means original Web series, TV shows, movies, music, live events, vidgames and publishing rather than pure product placement. UTA already serves as the Hollywood rep for such companies as Amazon and American Eagle Outfitters and will continue to do so. But as a separate entity, UEG will enable the tenpercentery to go beyond advising clients on what stars, projects and events to target. UEG will be in a position to produce programming for a range of corporate clients, not just those repped by UTA. UEG intends to work with other talent agencies, advertising agencies and brands. Despite some major client wins, UTA has been looking for some time for a way to make its corporate advisory practice stand out from the strong departments at rivals like CAA, William Morris Agency, ICM and Endeavor. “The thrust of this business is to take consumer brands and create content with them, for them and on their behalf,” said UTA co-founder and partner Peter Benedek. “It’s not meant to be a pure consulting business, which is what we do now. We didn’t have the ability to do the kinds of things (Moses) does given what we’re doing the rest of our day.” UEG will have an incentive to make its projects stand out as it will own a piece of everything it produces, though the client will own the majority of those properties. “We will participate as partners,” Moses said. “We’re building these programs from scratch but also being vested with them. It’s really about having a seat at the table and putting our money where our mouth is.” To head UEG as prexy-chief exec, Moses is ankling Alliance, a New York-based branded entertainment shop that he co-founded in 1997 and is owned by ad agency WPP. While CEO of Alliance, Moses worked with such clients as Procter & Gamble, the Coca-Cola Co., NBC Universal, Panasonic, Reebok, Mercedes Benz, MTV Networks, Hasbro, Motorola and Wal-Mart, brokering strategic partnerships, concert tours, endorsement deals and product placements. He brokered such deals as pairing Old Spice with the Will Ferrell comedy “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby,” integrating Crest toothpaste into “The Apprentice,” introducing Staples into the vidgame “Tycoon City: New York,” including Reebok in the first season of “Survivor” and outfitting the cast of “Dawson’s Creek” in J. Crew. Lisa Jacobson will continue to head UTA’s branding and licensing practice, which includes Gwen Stefani’s L.A.M.B. and Harajuku Lovers lines, Christy Turlington’s Nuala and Maha Nuala lines and Kidrobot’s fashion and lifestyle business. Although a separate entity, UEG will be part of any discussions the tenpercentery has with corporate clients considering entertainment projects. Formation of UEG is UTA’s latest move to expand its traditional representation biz into other areas. It recently launched UTA Online to rep talent creating online programming. And it partnered with ad agency Spot Runner to bow 60Frames, a finance and syndication company for Web fare.
Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more