Celebrity matchmaker unites famous people with brands to market
Mike Heller, 32, left his career as an attorney to work in marketing with celebrities, such as Lindsay Lohan. (Marie Claire Andrea)
By Lana Bortolot
Special to amNewYork
Sometimes when Lindsay Lohan is seen out at a club, shes just doing her job.
Celebrities get paid to attend special events and, sometimes, the products they carry are planted, too.
Mike Heller, the founder of Talent Resources based in the city, is often behind such marketing tactics.A former entertainment lawyer and nightclub marketer, Heller, 32, had a Rolodex full of contacts, and saw the opportunity to marry pop culture, corporate branding and celebrity marketing.
I was always interested in marketing, and the synergies between that and entertainment and the law, he said from his townhouse office in Murray Hill. And I realized the creativity just wasnt there for me as a lawyer.
Now, his clients include the controversial to the wholesome, from Lohan and Paris Hilton to Rachel Hunter.
In some cases, Heller tracks the schedules of celebrities their tour dates, their premieres and he books them for appearances on their downtime in the cities they visit. He also unites celebs and brands.
Lohan is sometimes seen with a smoke-free tobacco product called Ariva. Thats no accident; its a bit of organic marketing.
Were very out of the box in the way we think and market the opportunities, Heller said. A lot of big agencies are antiquated because they look down on commercial work.
Sometimes he even matches celebrities with products that focus on their maladies, spinning a negative into a positive.
He recently brokered an endorsement between Raptiva, a psoriasis medication, and CariDee English, an America's Next Top Model winner and a psoriasis sufferer.
In three years, Heller has gone from two to 10 employees with an office in Los Angeles, and satellite partners in strategic markets across the world.
He would not say how much revenue his company generates, but he did say that by his second year he was making at least as much money as he did as a lawyer.
He attributes his success to his unique approach to celebrity endorsements.
I was creating my own business model as I went along, because there wasnt really another agency doing what I do, he said. A lot of people thought I was either crazy or a genius, but I knew it was out there.