Merman Launches Branded Entertainment Division
Merman dives deep into the advertising industry with the launch of a division focused on crafting entertaining, brand-supported content. The company, founded by Sharon Horgan, the co-creator and star of the multi-award winning comedy series “Catastrophe,” and the woman behind Sarah Jessica Parker’s “Divorce” on HBO and her award-winning producer partner Clelia Mountford, has opened offices in Los Angeles, London and New York and features a family of award-winning writers and directors.
Merman is led by US-based Global Managing Partner, Kira Carstensen, who brings a wealth of advertising experience to this unique enterprise, which she and Horgan incubated, alongside Jeremy Rainbird - an advertising & production industry veteran - while Carstensen was at Pulse. The advertising division will work alongside and cross-pollinate its globally recognised and accoladed narrative film and television division run by Mountford, tapping the brain-trust and talent of founder Horgan, along with the likes of David Cross, Rob Delaney, Chris O’Dowd, Heather Graham, British comedian Morgana Robinson, and Jack McBrayer to name but a few, for projects with agencies and clients.
The company’s directing talent features Academy Award-nominated documentary filmmaker Lucy Walker, rising Brazilian star Mariana Youssef, the widely respected MJ Delaney and one of the busiest comedy directors in the UK Peter Lydon. In the UK, Merman is led by EP/Partner Dan Dickenson, formerly of Partizan, and Business Development Director, Siobhan Murphy, who moved over from Moxie. In addition to Merman’s roster of talent, they will exclusively represent the directors signed to Superprime in the UK, including Martin Scorsese, Paul Thomas Anderson, Terence Malick, David Lachapelle and Damian ‘La La Land’ Chazelle.
“In most advertising projects, companies are asked to primarily execute concepts, which is great and we do that. But we are also in a unique position to ideate and create interesting branded entertainment that lives somewhere between the world of commercials and TV/Film,” says Carstensen. “The whole point is to get people’s attention through smart, funny, real situations, whether they are funded by a brand or not.”
Horgan adds about diving into advertising: “It’s not a romantic thing, like I watched ‘Mad Men’ and thought I wanted to be them. It’s more about the people I’ve met in advertising, the directors and creatives, and the work they do. That you have 30 seconds worth of time to create something, and that something could make you laugh, was a surprise to me. We are also in an environment where there is a lot of crossover in making content. It used to be a different world, but it doesn’t feel like a different world now. Good content is good content, no matter what form it’s in.”
A majority woman owned and operated company, Merman is proud to have four female directors on its growing roster. Diversity of experience is also key to Merman’s talent offering, where multidisciplinary teams are united to develop and execute projects - from web series to short films and commercial campaigns - hand-in-hand with the brand stewards and creatives at agencies.