Before Mike Heller created Talent Resources — a global strategic marketing firm based in New York — he was an entertainment lawyer who also briefly acted as Lindsay Lohan’s manager.With Lohan, Heller used his law degree and connections from past event planning to help the then-20-year-old actress plan a Malibu birthday bash and later score deals to be the face of brands such as Jill Stuart and Louis Vuitton.
That was 2006.
Fast forward to today and Heller is no longer tied to the actress (although his father, a famous attorney, did bail her out of her most recent stint in jail) and Heller is running Talent Resources, an integrated marketing company that is pairing celebrities with brands and brands with events.
Heller and his team work with brands in conjunction with their annual programs, such as Sean John, Playboy, Vibe magazine, Kia and Chapstick and he also represents an array of clients in each of Talent Resources divisions.
But Heller tells Business Insider “It’s not just about pairing brands with a celebrity anymore, it’s pairing them with what lifestyle they’re looking for, what demographic they are trying to hit.”
For example, when Kia wanted to promote their summer car, Talent Resources rented out a house on the beach in Malibu and threw a party that celebrities such as Lauren Conrad showed up to, and then organically tweeted pictures from the event. “We go above and beyond to provide a comfortable experience for both the brand and the talent,” Heller says.
Tour the office space frequented by celebs >
As for how Talent Resources profits from the event, Heller explains, “Out of respect for the clients we work with, we try not to disclose this information but we have structured it in a way that benefits both parties, in the most fair way. Sponsorships and celebrity integration are elements these brands seek, and were able to deliver according to their budgets. The results are so valuable, and smart brands pay up to six figures because they know this.”
“But it wasn’t about pairing with a specific celebrity,” Heller says of promoting the brands he works with. “It was about pairing it with a specific integration and activation that we were working on. For Sundance, we have done a luxury gifting lounge for the past five years called the TR Suites. Sean John is coming back again for the second year in a row. They have the best snow jackets.”
In addition to the Sundance Film Festival, Talent Resources also coordinates big events at the Super Bowl, Fashion Week, the Kentucky Derby, among others.
“For Superbowl, we took over the biggest space in the French quarter on the Mississippi River called Jax Brewery. And then what I’m doing there is now I’m a producer like I am at Sundance,” explains Heller. “I’m putting the money up front before I have any content whatsoever. And then putting a deck together and going out to different sponsors that are in my wheelhouse, in my network, saying this is an opportunity you can buy into.”
One brand on board for Super Bowl is Playboy.
“So Playboy comes in and they say ‘I want to do a Playboy party Friday night’ and we’ll put that whole thing together in our space that I own for the three nights. They now can choose to use our company or not use our company to find them celebrities, to find them a performance, do the press outreach, to push out to social media on their behalf and utilise our digital division (the newest division) to create an even more unique experience.”
Digital can be an aspect all its own, as Talent Resources was in charge of just the digital for this year’s big Lacoste party during Coachella.
“We usually augment other things that are going on, or you can buy into our overall program,” explains Heller. “So the mentality isn’t that we are an agency that’s brokering a deal between a celebrity and a brand. That’s the small part and that’s the catalyst, but they’re coming to us for expertise in consulting of what direction the brand should go in, what their budget should be allocated towards. Whether it be buzz public relations, traditional public relations, experiential marketing, celebrity integration, social media consulting, SEO optimization or all of the above, my team can provide it. Should they seek a one off deal or should they attach themselves to a program of events that are all on brand, we do it all.”
“Basically we take the risk that a brand has doing its own activations and say ‘listen, you don’t have to take a risk anymore. We’ll do everything for you.’ It’s a turn-key situation,” explains Heller. “We have the space, we have the event PR, celebrities, celebrity hosts.”
And other than small offices in Los Angeles and Brazil, the 21-person Talent Resources team does all of their wheeling and dealing from a four-story townhouse in Manhattan.
rumour has it that celebrities like Avril Lavigne, Rachel Hunter, Lindsay Lohan, Kris Humphries and Stephen Dorff have all visited or stayed at Heller’s home-turned-office space.
Talent Resources, a lifestyle marketing company matching brands and events with celebrities, was started by Mike Heller and he currently runs the company alongside his friends David Spencer (right) and Matt Kirschner.
The Talent Resources office is located at 36th Street and Park Avenue. The townhouse was originally Heller's home before he turned it into his office.
Upon arrival, guests are greeted by a receptionist and this large piece by Chines artist Wang Guangyi.
The couches in the lobby are from an estate sale in Paris. They used to be in the library of a famous French producer's office. The antique Luis Vuitton trunk is from over 100 years ago and the wooden paneling is from the Morgan library.
Up the stairs, guests are greeted with a wall of fame. Pictures of Heller with everyone from Snooki to Diana Ross have made the wall.
The sports division has a wall of fame of their own that features athletes they have worked with, such as Scottie Pippen and Kris Humphries.
On the second floor of the townhouse, David Spencer leads the sports division. Spencer, who utilizes the same business formula as Heller, has cultivated opportunities with celebrities and athletes for foreign brands that want recognition in the US market. He is pictured at right with coordinator Jeremy Lieberman.
Blake has also been instrumental in the look of everything from Talent Resource's business cards and website to the logo to where some of the art was placed in the office.
This floor also has a second full kitchen, perfect for entertaining clients or hosting events for charities the company supports.
Up yet another level is Heller's private office. Nearby is a guest bedroom where many celebrity clients such as Lindsay Lohan have stayed.
And at the very top of the fourth floor is Heller's one truly private retreat in his home-office: his bedroom, which is surrounded by dual terraces.
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