The Integration Initiative: Special Ops Media Gives Entertainment Marketing a Full-Service Facelift

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While numerous verticals have recently made surprisingly successful transitions from traditional to interactive marketing—automotive and sports to name a few—it is the entertainment arena that has always remained on the cutting edge. From record labels promoting artists to a studio peddling the latest blockbuster or indie darling, the arts & entertainment medium has unearthed a virtual goldmine thanks to the YouTube/MySpace generation.

Behind every good brand, of course, is an agency willing to sell it—though not all in our exploding interactive era are created equal. With technologies, strategies and content reaching confluence in the digital space, agency roles are rapidly changing. So within the clutter, chaos and opportunity presented by this paradigm shift, the timing couldn’t be better for an agency like Special Ops Media to emerge from the shadows.

But this is no startup, hotshot or flash-in-the-pan operation. Since 2002, founders Jason Klein (left) and Christian Anthony have carefully turned Special Ops into a successful, full-scale company that melds creative, media planning and strategy under one roof. With roots firmly planted in entertainment—though it has expanded into more corporate verticals as of late—, the agency has designed and implemented unique campaigns for studios including Focus Features and Lions Gate, as well as MTV and other major brands.

So with a need to delve further into the ins and outs of a successful entertainment marketing firm, ADOTAS recently sat down with Anthony (right) and Klein at Special Ops’ New York City headquarters. Accommodating, opinionated and insightful, Klein and Anthony reveal how two guys from atypical, divergent career paths ended up becoming unlikely marketing powerhouses. Along the way, the pair shared plenty of thoughts on how the integrated agency approach has made their outfit a hot commodity, what the current and burgeoning trends in online/interactive marketing are, and what changes are afoot regarding agency roles in 2007 and beyond.

Hi guys, so let’s start with the obligatory background question. How did you guys initially sync up?

Christian: Jason and I had known each other through college, and had been four years apart in college. I had started another company, and Jason had come over a year out of med school, which we still kid about. I came from investment banking and Jay came from med school.

It totally makes sense then that you ended up in advertising.

C: (Laughs) Yeah, it was just natural. But I think it brought a different perspective to the industry. We weren’t traditional ad guys. I think if you look at a lot of the companies and some of the mistakes they’ve made, it was trying to retrain traditional ad people as interactive people. Not to say that that can’t happen, it certainly can. But we were coming to this not from an advertising paradigm, and I think that in the beginning and continues to serves us very well. You’re not bound by the way you did things. I think there are certainly parallels between new and old media, of course. But in a lot of ways, new media is different. We really benefited from not coming from traditional advertising backgrounds and continue to benefit from that.

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