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They appeared together on a panel, moderated by CBS News anchor Michelle Miller and hosted by Advertising Week New York at Hudson Yards, where Zimmer was asked specifically about the consolidation in the agency space, which saw CAA strike a deal to buy ICM Partners. That deal spurred Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel to say that his company had no interest in buying UTA. “We don’t need it,” he said last month at a conference hosted by Recode.
“I thought about it, and I think it makes sense to me that he would not want to, because we don’t fit the profile of the companies he buys,” Zimmer said Thursday, before adding to laughter in the room: “We have an amazing culture and we are incredibly profitable, so we wouldn’t fit in.”
He would go on to address the changing nature of the agency more seriously, telling Miller: “I think it goes back to the complexity and the diversification of the world we are in.”
“It is not right for everybody — there are a lot of clients who should be or want to be represented by somebody that is more singularly focused, but there are also a lot of artists with broad ambition, and the ability to do a lot of different things,” Zimmer added, noting that UTA is aggressive in areas like podcasts, art and NFTs. “We never want to be the place where we say, oh, sorry, we don’t know about that. … We want to be able to answer the needs and desires and ambitions of our clients.”
Bakish, meanwhile, was asked how M&A has impacted his business, as Discovery and WarnerMedia continue their merger plans, and with rumors swirling about potential ViacomCBS tie-ups.
“Journalists and bankers love to talk about deals, and yeah I get it. Journalists try to get media consumed, and bankers try to get fees,” Bakish said. “For us, we look at it and say, well, what does it take to be successful as a 21st century media and entertainment company?'”
“So against that challenge, people say, oh you should buy company X or merge with company Y, and we look at it and say, why?” he added, noting that the company believes it has a differentiated approach “to streaming with its free and ad-supported Pluto TV, and its premium options Paramount+ and Showtime.
Instead of making acquisitions, ViacomCBS wants to “take that money [from acquisitions like Black Rock and other deals] and plow it into streaming, because we have something that is working, and we just have got to go.”
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