It’s General Motors on Line One, Mr. Redford

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Think Hollywood is too corporate these days? It’s just getting started. Last week publicity powerhouse PMK (which handles names like Cruise, Pfeiffer, Hanks and Damon) finally consented to marry McCann-Erickson (clients include GM, MasterCard and Coca-Cola). The New York ad giant was not so much interested in PMK’s tidy profit margin -- “We’re just chump change to them,” says Leslee Dart, one of PMK’s three partners -- as in its vast warehouse of stars. “Celebrity icons are brands,” says John Dooner, McCann-Erickson’s CEO, “and there may be opportunities to work with like-minded brands in the corporate world.” Such work will probably be more subtle than, say, Sean Penn doing a Coke commercial. “We’re not in the advertising business; we’re in the publicity business,” notes PMK partner Pat Kingsley (the third PMK pooh-bah: Lois Smith). But by schmoozing with its new friends in the entertainment biz, says Dart, McCann-Erickson will be able to “tip off its clients to trends that are emerging” -- in effect, a savvy little spy network at the heart of our cultural Zeitgeist. Synergy, baby, synergy.