Vantage strikes up the brands

New dept. expected to rely on recent co. acquisitions

Betting that nontraditional advertising will catch on bigtime, Las Vegas-based American Vantage has formed a division to create entertainment for corporate clients.

Idea is to develop films, TV shows and vidgames, as well as events, to promote consumer brands and help them stand apart from the clutter of traditional 30-second TV spots.

The new American Vantage division is expected to rely heavily on a trio of companies it recently acquired — film and TV producer Hypnotic Media (“The OC,” “The Bourne Identity”), gamemaker YaYa and film distrib Wellspring — to lure advertisers as clients and develop properties.

Group’s first project will be producing MasterCard’s Priceless Experience Music Internship program, which offers students the opportunity to produce a musicvid for Island Records rock group Hoobastank. Hypnotic will shepherd the development and production of the musicvid.

Dave Schulte oversees the new branded content group as vice chairman of American Vantage Media.

Schulte most recently served as managing partner of DCS Investment Group, in which he will continue to maintain an active role. Before that, he was partner and prexy of brands at the Firm.

However, with Schulte’s post also having him manage American Vantage’s film and television efforts as well, the brand group’s daily duties will be handled by a staff of execs, including Mike Wiese, who serves as VP of brand partnerships. In that post, he will oversee new business development while managing relationships with brands and adagencies.

Wiese most recently worked at Hypnotic, brokering pacts with advertisers such as Reebok, MasterCard, DaimlerChrysler and Toyota.

Adam Asherson, who serves as VP of branded television, will work closely with Hypnotic and Wellspring to develop film and TV properties for advertisers. Asherson joins American Vantage Media from the Firm, where he was a talent manager.

And Seth Berman has been tapped director of branded partnerships and will supervise strategic and branded content deals. He previously worked for Schulte at the Firm.

“What sets us apart is our deep roots in the Hollywood and international creative community which informs our work,” Schulte said. “We understand how to entertain film and television audiences and are using that sensibility and skill to create totally fresh and unique content campaigns for our clients.”

Hypnotic and YaYa are no strangers in the branded entertainment arena.

Hypnotic has previously produced the Chrysler Million Dollar Film Festival and is teaming with DaimlerChrysler to produce films directed by the winners. It also produced the Reebok-backed “Terry Tate: Office Linebacker” commercials and Internet shorts.

YaYa has created games for the Web sites of companies including Kmart, Honda, Heinz and BMW.

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