Los Angeles and London-based management and production company 42 has acquired OB Management, an integrated director management and production firm for commercials and music videos.
OB founder Otis Bell will stay on to helm the company alongside COO Frida Nilsson. The company will be rebranded as “OB/42” and continue to operate as a distinct entity within the 42 group. 42 bosses Marc Allen, Josh Varney and Ben Pugh will sit on the board of OB/42 going forward.
The acquisition includes Probation — which Bell co-founded in 2011 with Matt Davey — a photo agency representing top photographers working in advertising, music and entertainment, which sits alongside OB Management. It will also include OB’s U.S. office, OBSIDIAN/Reprobates, headed up by EP Anna Heinrich, which will be consolidated and rebranded under the OB/42 name as a global identity.
The deal continues 42’s ongoing expansion, which includes the recent hire of former Netflix and Tiger Aspect Productions executive Ben Cavey (“Bad Education,” “Benidorm”) as head of comedy and entertainment, joining 42’s growing U.S.-based footprint of managers and producers. This partnership will allow OB Management a stronger foothold in the U.S. and for the two companies to collaborate on talent development.
Formed in 2013, 42 is run by six partners: producers Rory Aitken and Pugh, and managers Kate Buckley, Cathy King, Simon Beresford and Varney. The company recently produced “The Silent Twins,” starring Letitia Wright and Tamara Lawrance, which premiered at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival. The company’s recent productions for Netflix through its multi-year first-look development, financing and production deal include “End of the Road,” starring Queen Latifah and Chris “Ludacris” Bridges; “The Weekend Away,” starring Leighton Meester; “Night Teeth,” starring Jorge Lendeborg Jr. and Debby Ryan; and “Outside the Wire,” starring Anthony Mackie, for which a sequel is in development.
Varney, co-founder and managing partner at 42, said: “We’ve admired Otis, his team, and the incredible roster he has amassed, for some time – they’ve created content for a series of iconic musicians and global brands for almost two decades. This deal underscores 42’s commitment to solidifying our position as a home for creativity and talent who shape and impact culture – there are synergies to build on with OB Management and new avenues of business we can partner on to leverage both our existing expertise and commitment to talent development. We’re very excited about the future of this partnership.”
Bell added: “It has always been our ambition to offer representation to creators and directors across all story telling disciplines. Having known the partners at 42 for many years, it was very clear from our early conversations that a partnership with them would be the most impactful and credible way to add to our offering.
“We bring a wealth of experience in short form talent and production, making the consolidation of OB and 42 a significant extension in talent representation for both companies,” continued Bell. “Not only are the team at 42 incredibly smart and entrepreneurial, they also share the same values, work ethic and passion for nurturing talent in all mediums of storytelling. We are thrilled to be growing the company further alongside our friends and partners at 42.”
Bell also noted that the business is seeing “unprecedented” demand from agencies and brands to produce content across “every visual storytelling format,” including stills, animation, traditional ads, short form, long form and interactive.
“Our combined talent pool and production disciplines have us well placed to create impactful stories for mobile algorithms through to theatre aisle seats and wherever else advertising takes us next,” said Bell.
Originally conceived to represent emerging production companies and talent in music videos, OB expanded into talent management for directors and photographers in both music and advertising, simultaneously building a comprehensive production department to support an eclectic slate of projects across its departments, overseen by head of production and executive producer Sam Holmes.
In music videos, OB has worked with artists including Ed Sheeran, Jay-Z, Billy Eilish, Stormzy, Dua Lipa, Little Simz, Bonobo, Arlo Parks, Michael Kiwanuka and Radiohead. In commercials, the company has worked with youth culture and lifestyle brands such as Pepsi, Adidas, TikTok, Just Eat, Ballantine’s, Walkers, Starbucks, Samsung, Facebook, Bumble and Apple.
In its first venture into longer form projects, OB funded and produced the short film “Three Meetings of the Extraordinary Committee,” which was nominated for best short film at the 2022 BAFTAs.