Jason Stein wants to build a new kind of advertising conglomerate, albeit one that is centered on making content as much as it is on making ads. And now he’s got $150 million to play with.
The CEO and founder of the ad agency Laundry Service is forming a new umbrella organization, Cycle Media, which he hopes will eventually feature a stable of digital publishers and production firms that know how to connect with consumers while also specializing in weaving marketers messages into legitimate content.
Stein said he’s already begun talking to several potential acquisition targets and has the greenlight by parent company Wasserman Media Group to start making deals.
“We think we’re on a path to something very unique and not typical,” Stein said.
— Cycle (@bycycle) April 25, 2017
Indeed, the Cycle Media backstory is not traditional. To review, in 2014 Stein decided to establish a media business in addition to running Laundry Service. He started with an internal division called Cycle focused on producing content with Instagram stars.
The following year, the sports marketing firm Wasserman, which represents 2,500 professional athletes, acquired a controlling stake in Laundry Service.
Eventually, in 2016, Cycle evolved into a separate company, a full-fledged editorial brand cranking out original, pop-culture-related video clips featuring hip hop stars like Andre 3000 and breakdowns of the NBA Finals sponsored by Snapple. Cycle already boasts over 1.2 million Facebook fans and 236,000 Twitter followers.
Now, Wasserman wants the team behind both Laundry Service and Cycle to take things to the next level. The hope is that Cycle Media can become something of a new fang led ad/media holding company bolstered by $150 million worth of new capital.
“We are seeing a convergence of media and advertising,” said Stein, citing a recent web video series produced for Nike that took off via Cycle. “It’s not typical that an agency has a media company that becomes a material part of its business. We want to grow, and we are really interested in premium brands.”
To help, Stein recently brought on digital ad industry veteran Jason Kelly as chief strategy officer for Cycle Media. Kelly has logged stints as president of the mobile ad firm Millennial Media as well as vice president of strategy for Time Inc.’s digital operations.
“When I think about how much has evolved in recent years in digital media in terms of how content is created, how audiences are consuming and how brands are interacting with consumers, there is disruption everywhere you look,” Kelly said. “That gives us a big opportunity.”