Montgomery’s Wheelhouse Group launches brand and marketing division

Brent Montgomery’s fast-expanding Wheelhouse Group has launched a brand and marketing arm.

Labeled Wheelhouse Labs, the new division is to connect creators and talent with various brands with the aim of forging organic partnerships that transcend branded content.

Wheelhouse has appointed former Diageo North America exec Dan Sanborn (pictured) as president of the new venture.

Sanborn will also serve as chief marketing officer for Wheelhouse Group. Premium drinks business Diageo will continue working with Sanborn as a client of Wheelhouse Labs.

Prior to joining Wheelhouse, Sanborn held several leadership roles during his 16 years at Diageo, launching the business’s first culture and partnerships division in 2010, and spearheading many of Diageo’s non-traditional marketing initiatives, such as partnering with original series Bar Rescue for Paramount, and orchestrating creative talent partnerships and licensing deals, including a collaboration linking Diageo’s scotch portfolio with HBO’s Game of Thrones.

Under Sanborn’s direction, Wheelhouse Labs will function as an “idea lab” and in-house creative agency servicing Wheelhouse’s growing roster of partnerships, including content and development company Kimmelot, launched last fall by Wheelhouse and Jimmy Kimmel.

Sanborn reports into Montgomery, CEO of Wheelhouse Group, and will also work closely with Ed Simpson, chief strategy officer of Wheelhouse Group, and Sean Cohan, president of Wheelhouse Entertainment and chief business officer for Wheelhouse Group.

Elsewhere, Wheelhouse has also taken a minority stake in public relations, marketing and communications agency Jonesworks, founded by Stephanie Jones, who sits on the board of Wheelhouse Group as chief branding officer.

Jonesworks clients include Tom Brady, Dwayne Johnson, Venus Williams, Gisele Bündchen, Scooter Braun and SB Projects.

Wheelhouse Labs will work closely with Jonesworks to leverage the agency’s talent roster, as well as its expertise in consumer product and celebrity branding.

Montgomery said: “At Wheelhouse, our paramount goal is to provide a one-stop-shop for talent, brands, entrepreneurs, renegade producers and everyone in between looking to take big swings across various industries; we also aim to offer significant advantages for competing in this high-stakes environment. To accomplish this, you need a ‘dream team’ with the vision and savvy to leverage our production infrastructure and partnership engine.”

Sanborn added: “After a career-defining, stellar experience at Diageo, where I have worked for some of the greatest brands in the world, I thought the best move would be to gamble it all. The truth is that as I began to understand the ambition for Wheelhouse and the breadth of talent Brent and Jimmy were bringing in, I recognised this as a once in a lifetime opportunity to design some new and unique creative collaborations. I’m excited for this next chapter with Wheelhouse Labs and to get to continue working with Diageo in this new capacity.”

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