If you've watched Entourage you'll know what I mean. If you haven't watched Entourage then stop reading this and go and watch Entourage. Creative Artist Agency or CAA as they are known is a talent agency. However, that undersells them to the same extent as calling Man U a footie team. You could describe them as the talent agency. A phenomenon would better catch it.
CAA is what advertising agencies used to aspire to. A fuck me office (yes the one in the picture). A Saatchi gallery of original contemporary art thrown on the walls. A boardroom that takes a full 20 minutes to circumnavigate. A boardroom table made from a Stonehenge of marble. Here's the future of advertising made real. The time when we used to win elections for political parties and anything seemed possible.
Our hosts are pop star corporate lawyers, McCool McKinsey types, faux fun hedge funders. They are the rich who are inheriting the earth - what's left of it after they ripped all the marble out. (Unfortunately Ari Gold couldn't make it, but everyone else showed up.)
You see they came up with an idea. They figured that if they couldn't come up with the idea, then they would come up with the people who made (many of) the ideas happen: talent. And then they cornered the market. Seriously cornered the market. So much so they should be facing an anti trust suit. Only they won't, 'cos they’re really corporate lawyers. They started out representing A List Movie Talent. Now they have 10 divisions. Directing talent. Sporting talent. TV talent. Production talent. Fashion talent. Business talent (500k for an after dinner motivational talk anyone?) They refuse to publish their client list in the same way that McKinsey does. That is because you already know their client list: anyone who is anyone. Here's the killer quote: “have the right talent and the rest will follow”.
That was horribly smart. Horribly. Us advertising types, dying to be loved by our clients, ('cos we have no confidence left) practically give our ideas away. Meanwhile, CAA clean up as they have the talent. And the corporate lawyers.
And now they are adding yet more strings to their bow - brand talent. Brands like Diageo (hello wake up at the back that's our clients people) now have retainer relationships with CAA. And now CAA are originating and brokering projects that bring brand talent and creative talent together. And there's not a creative agency in sight.
Agencies talk (almost always fluffily) about content, these guys are doing it. CAA 'walked us through' slide after slide of live projects that they were curating, executive producing. Tellingly almost all of these projects were happening in the digital space. (Yes, CAA have incubated and spun out digital talent.) In old money webisodes would cover it. In new money content for the way we will be consuming (streaming) content – anyway, anywhere, anytime, anyhow. The Missionaries has to leave after slide 126 because our collective lack of confidence was quickly becoming a collective complex.
These guys are serious players. They are taking over the now marbleless world. So what are our options? Actually, we only have one. Think big. Get confident again. Put ideas front centre again. Get the right talent and the rest will follow.