Divergent Perspectives from Cannes: The Agency and the Client

art of the dealIt’s a Business Deal, Not a Date
By Jeffery Moran, Pernod Ricard

All too often, clients take it too personally. Securing and engaging talent isn’t dating, and it’s certainly not personal. It’s a business deal and needs to be planned for.

Parting with any significant amount of money can cause anxiety. Especially when engaging talent and opening up your brand to someone else who will then take part in furthering your efforts. Will consumers appreciate the connection? Will the talent make good on all points? Is this a sustainable relationship? Can I trust that this deal is being managed properly?

Go ahead; ask the questions…and have PLANS! Not just plan B, but also C and D. Because that’s why it gets personal – when your first choice says no, and you have people standing around wondering why. We all get caught up in just how perfect a celebrity/band/personality will be for the brand, and the deal often can take on a life of its own before the agency has even had a chance to contact the agent… let alone the manager!

When pondering a deal, it’s key to set the stage, caveat the heck out of everything with everyone, and then ensure the agency has your back – and you have a firm back-up plan. You must be confident in the efforts and approach of your agency, as they become your “front line” in the negotiation and management battle. Set the ground rules – you know your business; you know your financial structure; you know the organizational pressure points. Use that, and help the agency do what they do best. That’s right – they need a brief. That’s the first step in your plan. The next step is to ensure you are empowered to make decisions quickly and authoritatively, and that you keep others in your company apprised, but not TOO involved. Talent negotiation needs a velvet glove and an iron fist – and you need to know which approach leads.

So it’s key that you are THERE for the agency, and you are THERE for your internal audiences:

  1. Make a plan – lay it all out, and then add in four weeks, because talent negotiation seems to operate on a different time schedule.
  2. Be very realistic with your internal audiences – no deal is done over lunch. It just isn’t. It’s truly an art, with a little science thrown in when it comes to budgets.
  3. Involve legal early – in case you need a morals clause.
  4. Communicate to your internal audiences – don’t go dark if things aren’t going well; people freak out. It’s a lot of money.
  5. Lead, don’t follow – you are in charge of the deal-making; act like it (click to tweet).
  6. Actively engage in all aspects of the deal-making, and lead the agency – let them counsel you on what will work for the deal. You know your brand; they know the environment.
  7. Pray and visualize.
  8. Don’t let yourself get taken to the cleaners – know when to say no.
  9. Don’t be afraid to tell the talent what you want and need – it helps them zone in on what success looks like.
  10. Don’t take it personally – the talent usually has no idea who you are. It’s a business deal, not a fraternity rush.

Common sense and business grounding are key; negotiating talent has many layers and you need to weed through them to keep perspective. The best thing you can do is trust your agency; get to know them and involve them. And then let them educate you so that you are a smarter client. The deal will be stronger for it.


natilie-for-blogActually, It’s a Poker Game
By Marcus Peterzell

It’s tough to get on the stage at Cannes. The content team gets hundreds of panel submissions each year, but only accepts a few dozen. They’ve also done plenty on music marketing in past years, so we had to come with something fresh and original. Our “big idea” was to take the audience behind the scenes and conduct a “live” music marketing deal with a big brand and a global artist – and the Cannes team loved it!

Locking in the brand was fairly easy, as Ketchum Sounds is AOR for entertainment for Pernod Ricard, so a quick yes from Jeffrey Moran had us on our way. The tough part was getting a well-known artist to fly to Cannes and do the panel for no fee – luckily, Natalie Imbruglia turned out to be an amazing addition, and a perfect panel partner.

The result was that an amazing Cannes crowd watched us craft a mock music partnership between Natalie and the Avion tequila brand. We took the audience through all major deal points, (term, territory, creative platform, exclusivity, fee, etc.), with both the brand and the artist weighing in on the key points. Since I have negotiated deals with Jeff Straughn (Natalie’s manger) in the past, we had great fun pushing each other’s buttons and really going toe to toe. Since the majority of the audience had never heard what really goes on behind the scenes, they seemed very engaged in following how each point was resolved. A few crowd favorites were Natalie asking Jeffrey Moran to guarantee a launch of Avion in Australia (her home market), and us asking Natalie to not even pose for a picture with a competitive brand.

During the way, I was able to employ some of the best talent negotiation practices that I’ve learned over the years:

  1. Never promise a brand any specific celebrity – always pose a short list. Once they hear a name, they assume it’s done, but anything can happen, and usually does. (This reflects how we pitched the actual session to Cannes.)
  2. You have nothing to lose by starting with offering a low fee – you may bruise a few egos, but you can always up the offer, whereas you can never bring it down.
  3. Never assume a deal is done, even when you get the handshake – until ink is on the paper, talent can always walk (click to tweet).
  4. Always ask for more rights than the client needs – they will come in handy down the line, trust me.
  5. Keep your cool in the heat of battle – it’s a game of poker, so never show your cards – a savvy negotiator has to remain calm and collected!

The highlight of the session, however, was when we announced that Natalie would close out our session with a surprise performance of both her new single, “Instant Crush,” and her massive ‘90s hit “Torn.” The audience ate it up, and it has been the only live music performarnce during the entire festival!

Remember to check out Ketchum.com’s Cannes social hub for the latest from the festival and join the conversation with #KetchumCannes.