Ryan Seacrest Empire Expands With New York-Based Marketing Agency Acquisition

Ryan Seacrest

“Our acquisition of Civic fits in well with our plans to create a diversified portfolio of assets in media and entertainment," Seacrest said of his acquisition of Civic Entertainment Group through his newly created Seacrest Global Group.

Ryan Seacrest is looking to expand his reach yet again.

His newly launched Seacrest Global Group has made its first acquisition by purchasing a majority stake in New York-based strategic marketing agency Civic Entertainment Group. The firm, which will continue to operate under the leadership of co-founders Stuart Ruderfer and David Cohn, is behind such high-profile, experiential promotional efforts as The CNN Grill at both 2008 National Conventions and SXSW.

In addition to funding, Seacrest, who earns a reported annual income of nearly $60 million and has a Rolodex that's the envy of the industry, will be able to provide content, platforms and access to the highly regarded firm, which has provided creative marketing services to media, entertainment and sports entities including A&E Networks, CNN, ESPN, HBO, NFL and Southwest Airlines. For Seacrest, the investment is an opportunity to diversify his portfolio as well as generate revenue.

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“Our acquisition of Civic fits in well with our plans to create a diversified portfolio of assets in media and entertainment,” said Seacrest, who serves as chairman of Seacrest Global Group, an independent investment arm of his media and entertainment holdings. “It reflects not just our ambitions within this landscape but also our trust in their creativity and business capabilities. Stuart and David have wildly creative talent that’s coupled with strong business acumen. Their commitment to marrying these sensibilities has translated into an impressive track record of delivering consistently positive results for clients.”

Added Ruderfer and Cohn in a joint statement: “We couldn’t ask for a stronger partner than Ryan Seacrest. We share Ryan’s vision and commitment to building a world-class company that offers clients a uniquely valuable suite of services. Our alliance with Seacrest Global Group will provide us with the expertise, relationships and resources to further build our leading position in the marketing space."

In its 12-year existence, CEG, which employs 45 people and touts annual billings of roughly $40 million, has orchestrated a partnership with Virgin America pegged to Entourage's fifth-season return, a series of promotional 1920s Atlantic City-era events tied to HBO's Boardwalk Empire premiere and a partnership with Bloomingdale's around NBC's 2011 fall launch.

"Stuart and David and the Civic team have been strong partners helping us build some of the best brands on the media landscape. They have developed  innovative marketing campaigns that have driven viewership and integration partnerships for many of our big tentpole events," noted A&E Networks CEO Abbe Raven, whose cadre of cable networks has been working with CEG for several years. Among the AETN-CEG campaigns: a custom-designed, high-end fleet of taxis to promote History's Top Gear and an elaborate, interactive game tied to A&E's launch of The Sopranos.

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Prior to CEG, Ruderfer and Cohn founded the NYC Parks Marketing & Special Events division under Mayor Rudy Giuliani in the mid-1990s. The goal at that time was to develop partnerships among top marketers, entertainment properties and the city in a bid to drive tourism and generate revenue for the city. Among the successful efforts born out of the entity was a multimillion-dollar HBO-sponsored Garth Brooks Concert in Central Park, a New York Yankees world championship parade and the John Paul II Papal Mass in Central Park. 

With this acquisition, Seacrest can push his personal brand into the broader branding world and explore possible synergies within his portfolio. Already, the latter includes assets such as his nationally syndicated radio show, a series of cable shows (Keeping Up With the Kardashians franchise, Shahs of Sunset) and hosting efforts (American Idol, New Year's Rockin' Eve) and a collection of media investments and brand ventures with such blue-chip companies as Coca-Cola, Ford and Procter & Gamble.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, though it is said to be a smaller investment that the ones Seacrest's $300 million investment fund set up by Clear Channel, Thomas H. Lee Partners and Bain Capital is designed to make. LionTree Advisors was the financial adviser to Seacrest Global Group, while AdMedia Partners advised CEG. Bank of America provided financing. Parke Spencer, former COO for Rubenstein Associates, serves as the company's president and runs day-to-day operations for the firm.

Email: Lacey.Rose@THR.com; Twitter: @LaceyVRose