Michael Kassan and Jeremy Zimmer on the Convergence of Advertising, Celebrity, Media and Commerce

CANNES, France — Eighteen months into the marriage, things are good between UTA and MediaLink. Jeremy Zimmer’s talent agency acquired Michael Kassan’s media consultancy in late 2021, giving each access to the others’ clients and opening new lines of business.

“We have probably 100 colleagues who are connecting across different brands and opportunities and looking for ways that we can deepen the connectivity,” says Zimmer, CEO of UTA. Adds Kassan, “It’s always dangerous to say this, but nobody else can bring all of that together. If you’re looking at brands, if you’re looking at talent, if you’re looking at platforms, if you’re looking at distributors, if you’re looking at creators, we found a way to bring them all together and find different touch points.”

Zimmer and Kassan sat down with Adweek Monday morning at Cannes Lions to talk influencers, AI, the writers strike, CNN, Linda Yaccarino’s move to Twitter and more.

Adweek: Talking about the progression of who comes here, it was first about celebrating creativity, then marketers started coming, then ad tech, now it’s the creator economy and influencers. Jeremy, how are you looking at influencers as a piece of the UTA business?

Zimmer: We started our digital talent agency, probably way too early, we actually got involved in representing digital talent artists in 2006. And there wasn’t much to be taken seriously at the time. But it certainly gave us the language and understanding of connectivity with everyone who is in that space. We’ve made deep investments. We bought a company a few years ago, the leading influencer agency in beauty and fashion called DBA, we represent some of the biggest stars in that space.

AI will be a big topic of conversation this week, but what are some of the other trends you’re looking for this year?

Kassan: There’s no conversation that hasn’t had AI. But there’s still so much interest in how advertising and streaming are coming together. That is still a story. Last year, it was Netflix. This year, in a more stealth fashion, you’ve got Apple here. Retail media, just look around the beach here, Walmart Connect, Instacart, Albertsons, Amazon. That’s the business Amazon is here for. The projection is $112 billion revenue number for retail media. Where that ties back to UTA is there’s a strong belief that you rarely hear the word commerce now not modified by the word content.

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