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WME, finance firm into brand revival

Agency teams with Gordon Brothers Group

WME is teaming up with one of the most active buyers of consumer brands.

The percentery and Boston-based financial advisory firm Gordon Brothers Group are forming a strategic partnership to revitalize distressed consumer and retail brands, the companies said Monday. They previously partnered to revive Polaroid.

Under the leadership of partner Bobby Sager, Gordon Brothers transformed from a jewelry store liquidator into an international investment operation with a portfolio of brands that, in addition to Polaroid, includes Linens ‘n’ Things and the Sharper Image. Earlier investments included Bombay, Casual Corner, Cannon and Field Crest brands.

After Gordon Brothers, as part of a joint venture, purchased Polaroid out of bankruptcy in 2009, it enlisted WME to help breathe new life into the 73-year-old brand that had become fusty in an era of digital photography.

“Polaroid is our proof of concept,” WME co-CEO Ari Emanuel said Monday. “It demonstrates that Gordon Brothers Group’s inherent understanding of how to maximize the value of retail and consumer product-based businesses — what I call their ‘merchants perspective’ — combined with WME’s deep relationships and acumen in media and entertainment, are the perfect mix for successful brand revitalization.”

Sager made a splash at CES last month alongside Polaroid creative director Lady Gaga when they introduced Polaroid’s new camera glasses. The singer took a picture of the crowd and told them: “Smile, you’re so f***ing famous.”

“This is not a typical celebrity spokesperson model but rather an innovative approach that places the talent at the core of the brand’s strategic and creative thinking,” Sager and Emanuel said in a joint statement. “Gordon Brothers Group and WME will strategically align some of the world’s greatest brands with some of the world’s greatest talents.”

Two brands that the new partnership might find attractive are Hollywood Video and Movie Gallery, which the former video chain said last fall it would put up for sale following a bankruptcy in February.

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