Branded: Just One of the Boys

We know there are a lot of women in branded entertainment, but most of them tend to be on the West Coast. Take, for example, our friend Lori Sale, formerly of Miramax, and now running the new branded entertainment unit at ICM, the leading Wilshire Boulevard tenpercentery. Or Stephanie Sperber at NBC Universal, who put together the mega-million-dollar deal with Volkswagen a few years back.

It's slim pickin's on the Right Coast, however. The overwhelming majority of meetings we take in New York on behalf of our clients are with middle-aged white guys. The dynamic dames of branded entertainment come through in muffled voices  depending on their cell phone coverage  at the remote end of a bicoastal conference call.

Thank goodness, then, for New York-based Patti Kim, whom we took to lunch at the Soho House on a recent sultry summer afternoon, marred only by an unruly Ethan Hawke frolicking noisily with Uma's kids in the swimming pool behind our table.

Kim (no relation to this column's co-author) thinks there may actually be a gender gap in branded entertainment.

"I'm not sure of the actual number of women in this segment of the business, but it might have something to do with the fact that it's a relatively new area that's still being defined to the external world," says Kim, a vice president in the corporate consulting practice of the William Morris Agency.

Kim is truly carving out a distinct niche in this field, irrespective of gender. For the record, she's the only woman in the William Morris Agency consulting division, whose 12 other agents (all male) are based in Beverly Hills. "Thankfully, I work far away from the Dirty Dozen in my New York office," cracked Kim.

Turning serious, Kim says she doesn't particularly think being a woman plays into her job one way or the other. "Geography and times zones have more impact than gender," she says. One thing's for sure: Kim doesn't find it difficult to operate effectively in the rough-and-tumble alpha-male universe in which she plies her trade.

Consider her clients. Kim spends much of her day concocting entertainment marketing programs for brands like the National Football League, Dennis Publishing (Maxim, Blender), and Anheuser-Busch. "What guy wouldn't want to work with these brands?" she says. "I am the lucky one that gets to deal with these companies."

Recently Kim worked a deal with the producers of Disney's "Invincible," starring Mark Wahlberg, based on the true story of a 30-year-old schoolteacher who walked onto the Philadelphia Eagles team. She convinced the producers during negotiations to tweak the storyline so that the NFL could become a promotional partner in the film.

Stephen Colvin, president and CEO of lad-mag powerhouse Dennis Publishing, has nothing but praise for Kim.

"Underneath her glamorous and demure exterior lies a forthright and competitive soul who can easily outmaneuver her male counterparts," he says. "Word has it that she can arm-wrestle a 250-pound man down to the table faster than Patrick Swayze in 'Roadhouse.'"

And speaking of deal-making, most agencies have become used to striking razor-thin deals with their clients. But if anyone can redraw the boundaries in agency compensation, it's Alex Bogusky. The ad industry's biggest rock star takes full advantage of his status, making demands that would get most of his peers bum-rushed out of the room.

Who else could demand equity in a client's business in return for handling its account, as he has done? Now we're hearing that Crispin Porter + Bogusky is pushing for profit participation on the Burger King feature film project it's shopping in Hollywood. That's unheard of in a business where clients have historically owned the content that agencies create on their behalf.

If anyone can pull that one off, it's Alex. But could he arm-wrestle Patti Kim?

Hank Kim and Richard Linnett are directors at MPG Entertainment. ( and

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