- United Talent Agency (UTA) will acquire MediaLink, a strategic advisory firm whose focus includes marketing transformation, per an announcement. Along with joining UTA as a partner, founder Michael Kassan will continue as CEO of MediaLink, which will maintain its full organization.
- MediaLink boasts a network of C-suite relationships across brands, marketing, entertainment, technology and finance, while UTA — one of the world's largest talent representation companies — has a roster that includes leading artists, athletes and cultural icons.
- The combination looks to bridge the shrinking divide between marketing and entertainment, as connecting with creators and culture becomes a mandate for brands and platforms. UTA Marketing, the agency's entertainment marketing consultancy, will become a division of MediaLink.
UTA's acquisition of MediaLink from U.K.-based Ascential PLC for a reported $125 million comes as marketing and entertainment continue to converge and brands look to authentically engage with consumers around culture. For UTA, MediaLink's expertise and leadership will help its client list foster relationships with brands as the talent agency looks to move into a growth area.
"This acquisition is a clear signal that UTA sees its work at the intersection of entertainment, brands and marketing as a core pillar of the future growth opportunities we are able to provide for our clients," UTA CEO Jeremy Zimmer said in the press release.
MediaLink had revenue of $44.2 million for 2020 and about $32 million for the first half of 2021, according to Ascential data cited by The Wall Street Journal. The company consults brands, media firms and ad-tech companies about digital transformation and helps brands select ad agencies. For UTA, the work with brands on their agency choices comes at a pivotal moment when a number of these relationships are under review.
Along with synergies between UTA and MediaLink, the acquisition will beef up the talent agency's entertainment marketing consultancy, which will become a division of MediaLink and be rebranded as UTA Entertainment & Culture Marketing. The division works to build long-term entertainment strategies and relationships with top creators, which is in line with increased brand and platform activity around creators, whether they are artists, musicians, athletes or players in the growing gaming and esports space.
"The combination of UTA and MediaLink creates an unparalleled offering operating where strategy, culture, entertainment, marketing and technology intersect," MediaLink's Kassan said in the press release. "What's more, MediaLink will be deeply immersed in a creator culture represented by UTA — one that pivots on entrepreneurship and an unwavering passion for artists, entertainment and media."
Separate from the deal, UTA has made moves that align with developments in marketing, becoming the first talent agency to launch an NFT practice and launching plans for a Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC) that will focus on the gaming industry. UTA last week collaborated with L'Oréal Paris USA on an NFT campaign themed around female representation in the space.