LA and London-based management and production company 42 (The Silent Twins, “The Flatshare”) has acquired commercials production and director management outfit, OB Management.
Founder Otis Bell will stay on to helm OB alongside COO Frida Nilsson, which will be rebranded as “OB/42” and continue to operate as a distinct entity as a company within the 42 group. 42’s Marc Allen, Josh Varney and Ben Pugh will sit on the board of OB/42.
The acquisition includes PROBATION, which Bell co-founded in 2011 with Matt Davey, a photographic agency representing award-winning photographers working in advertising, music and entertainment, which sits alongside OB Management. It will also include OB’s U.S. office, OBSIDIAN/Reprobates, headed up by EP Anna Heinrich, which will be consolidated and rebranded under the OB/42 name as a global identity.
The deal continues 42’s ongoing expansion, which includes the recent hire of former Netflix and Tiger Aspect Productions executive Ben Cavey (“Bad Education,” “Benidorm”) as Head of Comedy and Entertainment, joining 42’s growing U.S. based footprint of managers and producers. This partnership will allow OB Management a stronger foothold in the U.S. and for the two companies to collaborate on talent development.
Josh Varney, Managing Partner at 42, said: “We’ve admired Otis, his team, and the incredible roster he has amassed, for some time – they’ve created content for a series of iconic musicians and global brands for almost two decades. This deal underscores 42’s commitment to solidifying our position as a home for creativity and talent who shape and impact culture – there are synergies to build on with OB Management and new avenues of business we can partner on to leverage both our existing expertise and commitment to talent development. We’re very excited about the future of this partnership.”
Otis Bell said: “It has always been our ambition to offer representation to creators and directors across all story telling disciplines. Having known the partners at 42 for many years, it was very clear from our early conversations that a partnership with them would be the most impactful and credible way to add to our offering. We bring a wealth of experience in short form talent and production, making the consolidation of OB and 42 a significant extension in talent representation for both companies. Not only are the team at 42 incredibly smart and entrepreneurial, they also share the same values, work ethic and passion for nurturing talent in all mediums of storytelling. We are thrilled to be growing the company further alongside our friends and partners at 42.
We’re seeing unprecedented demand from agencies and brands to produce content across every visual storytelling format: stills, animation, traditional ads, short form, long form, interactive and beyond. Our combined talent pool and production disciplines have us well placed to create impactful stories for mobile algorithms through to theatre aisle seats and wherever else advertising takes us next.”
Originally conceived to represent emerging production companies and talent in music videos, OB expanded into talent management for directors and photographers in both music and advertising, simultaneously building a production department to support a slate of projects across its departments, overseen by Head of Production/EP Sam Holmes.
In music videos, OB has worked with artists including Ed Sheeran, Jay-Z, Billy Eilish, Stormzy, Dua Lipa, Little Simz, Bonobo, Arlo Parks, Michael Kiwanuka and Radiohead. Videos from OB’s directors have been recognised at the UKMVAs, D&AD, Creative Circle, Kinsale Shark Awards, 1.4, AICP, and Tribeca, as well as Head of Music Video, Sam Davey, being awarded Best Agent at the UK Music Video Awards in 2021.
In commercials, OB has worked with brands such as Pepsi, Adidas, TikTok, Just Eat, Ballantine’s, Walkers, Starbucks, Samsung, Facebook, Bumble and Apple. Recent advertising awards and nominations include Marketing Week’s ‘Best Campaign of 2022’, Campaign’s ‘Ad of the Day’, British Arrows ‘Young and Emerging Talent’, Shots ‘Best New Director’ and Kinsale Sharks ‘Best Comedy Direction’.
OB’s Probation has a roster of photographers shooting stills and moving image campaigns across lifestyle, sports and youth culture focused brands. Probation’s photographers also collaborate with OB’s directors and production team on integrated campaigns. Recent clients include Google, Sky, Heineken, Toyota, Peloton, Manchester United, Island Records, Spotify and Beats by Dre.
In its first venture into longer form projects, OB funded and produced the short film Three Meetings of the Extraordinary Committee, which was nominated for ‘Best Short Film’ at the 2022 BAFTAs.
The company’s management division represents a range of high profile and emerging actors, writers, directors, producers, and casting directors.
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