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SMC Group seeks to tap J’can entertainment market

Global entertainment procurement agency SMC Group has set its sights on the Jamaica in hopes of bringing its over 20 years’ expertise to the local media and entertainment industry.

The group’s chief executive officer (CEO), Maurice Hamilton, told the Jamaica Observer that the company, which creates relationships between brands and celebrities, wants to enhance and promote the underdog talents of the local entertainment industry and position Jamaica, and then the wider Caribbean, as a credible creative hub within the international marketing community.

CEO of SMC Group Maurice Hamilton (Photo: Mena Herald)

“We have looked at talent over the years and seen how to develop [them] and realise that there wasn’t enough that was being done to highlight talent that was coming out of certain territories, such as Jamaica and the Caribbean,” he said.

“People are familiar with the professional creative side such as artists and everything that comes out of Jamaica in regards to music, but for everything else there is not necessarily an understanding of the high-performing level of talent available on the island. So if I want to check out and see the new dancehall artistes that will be easy for me to find, but let me try and find a new influencer or gamer or fashion designer, it’s not necessarily easy to do,” Hamilton continued, noting that areas such as dance, film and other theatrical work don’t get the same exposure.

“There’s a huge potential in shining a light on these areas so people like myself can identify and say, ‘how do I take these great awesome talent options and plug them into my brands’?” Hamilton pondered.

Originally formed to provide specialist public relations and marketing services support for record labels and film studios, such as Universal Music, Sony, BMG, EMI and Twentieth Century Fox, the company today has worked with global business giants like the Coca Cola Company, Unilever and Cartier in 16 markets across the world; as well as with the likes of Sean Paul, Ludacris, JayZ, Kanye West, Shaggy, Rick Ross, Usain Bolt, and Elephant Man.

Having moved its headquarters to Jamaica last year, SMC Group has already forged a partnership with the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts to develop and export Jamaican talent to its global market.

Signage at the entrance to Edna Manley College of the Visual and Perfoming Arts (Photo: Buzz-Cribbean)

This includes a US$30,000 investment into the development of the institution’s music production studio targeting students to develop local songwriters, producers, and artistes, as well as an apprenticeship programme for five Edna Manley graduates each year.

“We have seen that Jamaican people have all of the capabilities to compete on an international level when it comes to marketing and communications. But these [talents] are international stars or have the potential to be… and it should be a case where you’re able to put someone in contact with an international brand that looks at it from that place,” Hamilton told the Caribbean Business Report.

The CEO said, too, that the local sport industry occasionally falls short in promoting talents internationally.

“I look at Elaine Thompson-Herah, fastest woman in the world and Olympic champion… she should have deals all over the world, left, right and centre, same way that [Usain Bolt] has capitalised over the years — and, yes, that took time and maybe more work — but there should at least be deals in every key categories for her,” he argued.

In this Instagram post, Jamaican sprinter Elaine Thompson-Herah celebrates after running a personal best and Jamaican national record in the 100m of 10.54secs, the second-fastest time behind American Florence Griffith Joyner’s 10.49secs.

“But if nobody knows where to find her or how to connect and what are the types of opportunities she’s looking for, then nothing will happen. I’m keen on putting people on that world stage,” he continued.

Gatorade, Puma, Nike and Adidas are some international brands that work with Jamaican athletes.

He pointed out that the group is currently recruiting talent to “develop and present to the world”.

“We have several different things that we use to communicate with our brands in terms of new talent, but we need to know about that new talent and this is what leads us into what we are doing right now,” Hamilton told the Caribbean Business Report.

He added, “Jamaica has a great opportunity, in the same way that the BPO sector has done so much in creating jobs and having people look at an industry that 20 years ago nobody was thinking of as a potential sector where there will be so much growth fed back into the country in the way it has…I look at marketing and communications through the same lens”.