Trimaran Scratches A Niche –

Super Bowl Sunday has long been regarded as the paramount event for football fans since the AFC and NFC merged 40 years ago, and to most advertisers the day holds just as much significance. But for Trimaran Capital Partners and its new Brite Media Group advertising platform, the big game is probably an after thought.

That’s because the firm and Brite Media have made it their mandate to focus on the niche areas in advertising.

Trimaran is teaming with industry veteran and former partner Bruce Friedman, who will serve as chairman and CEO and invest in Brite Media through his own investment company Pacific Merchant Capital. The firm also brought on board Neal Schore to serve as president.

The pairing of Trimaran and Friedman stems from a past relationship in which the two paired up on another play on the niche advertising space. The investments in Triumph Taxi Tops and Triumph Municipal Outdoor, taxi cab roof and bus shelter advertisers, respectively, were the forerunners to the Brite Media platform.

“We exited those investments in 2000, and since that time we’ve been looking at different ideas in the sector,” Trimaran Managing Director William Phoenix said. He identified hotdog cart umbrellas, pizza-box tops and airplane tray tables as potential niche advertising areas the company could pursue.

Overall, $50 million has been committed to the platform, and the company has already notched its first investment; the acquisition of coffee sleeve advertiser Brite Vision. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“We’re entering the Tivo era of advertising, where advertisers spend substantial amounts of money to buy ads and are still not sure if those ads are reaching the people they’re meant for,” Phoenix said. “The alternative advertising space is much more pinpointed. With coffee slips for example, you can go to the different coffee shops and determine how many coffees were sold.”

Brite Media will be looking for other companies similar in scale to the coffee slip advertiser, and Phoenix said the business will only be looking for proven models with a track record of success. “We’re not looking for startups. There has to be the common ground that the companies are well managed and have already become successful, but are either capital constrained or need to be in a bigger platform.”

Trimaran is investing $40 million into Brite Media and Friedman, through Pacific Merchant Capital, will cover the balance of the $50 million. Trimaran is using equity from its $1.04 billion Trimaran Fund II L.P., which has committed approximately 80% of its capital. The acquisition of Brite Vision was an all-equity deal, although the buyers will look to take on some debt with the addition of other acquisitions

The investment in Brite Media falls on the low end of Trimaran’s typical investment range, identified as between $25 million and $100 million on its website. But Phoenix noted that the growth potential coupled with the opportunity to work with Friedman again made this a viable investment for the firm. Also, he added that there is the potential that the firm will contribute further capital to investment.