Here is The New York Times piece on CAA which fronts the Business section on Monday: Creative Artists Blushing After Corporate Kiss-Off. Reporter Michael Cieply begins and ends it with Hasbro’s firing CAA and jumping to William Morris. (I mentioned that defection here on Friday.) The article focuses not on Hollywood but primarily on CAA’s corporate clients and the varying degrees of success and failure the tenpercentery is having. “Loyalty stops at the bottom line, and even the most powerful of agencies is finding it can be tougher to meet the needs of a corporate customer than to baby-sit for a temperamental star,” Cieply writes. “For Creative Artists, the [Hasbro] embarrassment comes just as it is trying to prove that it can mirror, if not exactly match, the intricacy and reach of the media conglomerates and consumer and technology companies that have come to define the entertainment world.” This is not the purely positive piece that Richard Lovett and Bryan Lourd were hoping for, but it’s not a slam either. (The partners didn’t talk on the record for it.) It’s simply not juicy, and I say that with regret because Cieply had the class to credit me with the scoop about recent belt-tightening at CAA. (See my CAA Reads Riot Act To Spendthrift Agents.( The article fails to go deep. For instance, the NYT points out that CAA’s adviser, mergers-and-acquisitions lawyer Martin Lipton, is helping engineer the agency’s growth strategy. But the NYT ignores what I’ve reported again and again: that CAA’s current course was charted by Lovett’s hero-worship of Mark McCormack’s IMG. (See my Oh Shit! The Vultures Are Circling.) And that’s why CAA has doubled in size in the last five years, and expanded its client representations to different fields because Lovett is aping McCormack’s “100% market share” schtick. I’m also surprised the NYT piece ignores a recent shake-up atop CAA’s corporate department and its overall slacker mentality. To really rep these clients well for those $1 mil retainers, it takes more than just showing off or harnessing piddling resources of less than a dozen agents busying themselves with two dozen meetings. But in terms of manpower and other overhead, agencies by their very nature are non-scalable businesses. As I heard from one member, “CAA’s attititude is to just sign the corporate client, and then count on these big companies forgetting we’re on the payroll — so we don’t really have to do too much.” Previous: NY Times’ CAA Story To Front Monday Biz
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