Global reach of a local marketing company

Photograph by James Schmelzer, Elite Photographic Studio

Stuart Arkin got his first glimpse of the business when he ran his father’s toy retail operation. He couldn’t stand it.

“We did the toy sections in all the pharmacies,” he explains. “We had over 100 employees and I just couldn’t accept them. I had to rely on everyone and it was driving me nuts. I said, ‘Daddy, I can’t do this.’ “

In 1992, Arkin launched a highly successful ticket brokerage service, Prime Tickets. “I had a huge corporate client base who bought my seats,” he recalls. “It was a great concert.”

Then came StubHub. “I was fighting a giant with the Internet and I couldn’t win,” he says. “I thought it was time to take the train instead of trying to catch it.”

Experience, of course, is the best teacher. All those years rubbing shoulders with musicians and athletes through his ticketing business… understanding the allure of gadgets with his experience with toys… witnessing the power of the Internet… the desire for a leaner organization and a better control of the process. All of Arkin’s story has come together in one well-appointed office suite in Farmington Hills, where the entertainment industry – or, more specifically, the entertainment industry – is in turmoil.

Arkin, 43, an avid amateur hockey player, is the CEO of three distinct business lines working towards a single goal. His Power Play group holds the official licenses of the musical artists, athletes and sports leagues for which Arkin creates exclusive packaging and merchandise. (This list includes the Grateful Dead, the NHL, its players’ association, and Michigan State University, among others.)

Then there’s AAMZ (named after Arkin; his father, CFO Irwin Arkin; and marketing and creative directors Amy MacIntosh and Tom Zahner, who dissolved their own business to join Arkin’s). Alternately known as “The Studios”, AAMZ is the in-house agency that develops marketing, branding, product design, websites and social media campaigns. The Arkin agency provides management and representation.

“The money is no longer made on music,” says Arkin. “It’s merchandising. What we’re doing here is we’re doing everything right. We just do the job. Relying on other people to perform… it never happens. With everything under one roof, we are able to come up with a concept, strategize, market and implement. We want to blow them up.

Arkin’s streamlined team of 14 people blew the confidence of 16-year-old Australian pop idol Cody Simpson with 3.3 million YouTube-generated fans. Simpson’s management team includes Scooter Braun, the mastermind behind Justin Bieber’s career.

It wasn’t that long ago that Arkin ended up playing a round of golf with Simpson’s manager Matt Graham. Before hitting the links – and hoping he might run into Graham – Arkin had his team run on fully developed Simpson concepts. “You only get one kick at the box,” he says.

Photograph by Florent Dechard
Photograph courtesy of AAMZ “The Studios”

At the end of the round, Graham was sold.

Beyond creating the Simpson tour posters, AAMZ invented Smitten With Cody Simpson, the singer’s official phone app, which includes a GPS feature letting fans know how far away they are from him at all. moment.

“I’ve never worked so closely with a licensee,” Graham says. “The Studios team is so focused on the fact that whatever they do for Cody is something his fans want and love. What they do is beyond licensed merchandise. They create products. and experiences for Cody fans.

Arkin is one of the few licensees to work directly with the direction of artists. “What we’re finding is that labels haven’t changed their business model since the 1970s,” says MacIntosh. “They continue to get the lion’s share of the income because they don’t do much. Today’s artists are modernized; the stickers [are] not. So they come to us when they get off the label.

“[Record labels] are so archaic, they can’t keep up, constantly looking for approvals, ”Arkin adds. “The management wants to move now. An idea can come from our boardroom and be implemented so quickly you can’t believe it.

Studios also turned to local singer-songwriter Robin Horlock, rebranding his image and launching his career. They are actively looking for other clients, not just artists.

Recently, a New Jersey inventor approached Arkin with a tablet case that contained a hidden lanyard that serves as a handle or shoulder strap. Arkin acquired and patented the product, nicknamed it “Zipline” and unveiled it at the major consumer electronics show last January. “We are developing a line of computer accessories called Custom Quest,” he says. “Everyone has an idea, but if you can’t execute it, good ideas get nowhere. “