Branding is Big Business with Troika Media Group


A jeep, a dinosaur, and an old Mexican woman walk into a bar…wait. Is that the setup for a bad joke or the inspiration for a sophisticated company? The latter. Troika Media Group, Inc., a dynamic brand and marketing collective, gained its roots from the Russian language, as the moniker troika means three. However, with artists and professionals from around the globe it was named after the 1997 science fiction novel, The Troika, by Stepan Chapman, an American author. The fantastical, award-winning science fiction novel features those odd characters as they trek across the desert “under the glare of three suns”.[1] This description aptly describes the work of this creative company: unexpected, bold and blindingly bright.

Humble Beginnings

Founded in 2001, Forbes describes it as “Hollywood’s leading integrated branding and marketing agency.”[2]  Troika’s headquarters are in Los Angeles. Day-to-day operations for the brand consultancy are run by Troika President Dan Pappalardo. After the tech boom at the end of the century, Pappalardo – alongside Chuck Carey and Mark Bohman –  left a senior post at Pittard when his livelihood was threatened; to start a new venture.

Troika employs 34 employees and regularly contracts with dozens of creative and technical professionals to bring its branding work to life. And for the last 15 years, it has been a force to be reckoned with in the big media brand arena.


On September 19, 2017, Troika appointed new members to its Board of Directors. Jeffrey Schwartz, founder and principal of Digital Direct Ventures, now serves as Chairman of the Board of Troika. The organization hired Andy Hann as creative director in August, 2017. With more than 30 years of entertainment media and brand consumer experience, Hann previously developed award-winning for companies such as Budweiser, New York Fashion Week Sundance Film Festival, “The Academy Awards,” and Visa. Another recent key hire was Aaron Sapiro, formerly director of development for UCLA – Athletics. He joined the organization in March to serve in the role of new account manager to lead Troika’s burgeoning sports division.

Business Model

Troika touts the breadth and depth of a full-service creative agency. Its client roster is a who’s who of mega brands. Fond of its long-held partnerships with some of the world’s leading entertainment and sports media brands. It has worked with:

  • ABC Television
  • Amazon
  • CBS Sports
  • Cirque du Soleil
  • The CW
  • “Entertainment Tonight”
  • HLN
  • FOX
  • PBS
  • Turner Television
  • Starz
  • Sundance Institute
  • UFC

Bread and Butter

The leaders at Troika seem to have a specialty in landing mega sports clients. Additionally, if you need a major rebranding effort, this team of professionals is your go-to agency for delivering a bold and distinct look. The winning results are illustrated by the two recent refresh efforts of Turner Television, and AT&T Sports Network logos as they rebranded ROOT Sports as AT&T SportsNet in several markets.

Importantly, Troika also performed a massive facelift for the CBS Sports brand. After using the previous logo for 35 years, CBS leaders wanted a more dynamic mark that used animation. The rebranding effort would include “a more iconic graphics package, bringing in a mixture of photography and animation to replace the purely animated ones used before.”[4]

“We worked with Troika and they gave us almost 100 different designs and we narrowed that down to five or six we liked, before narrowing it down to the new logo that we will be debuting during Super Bowl week. It’s clean, it’s modern looking but it also has the traces of the great tradition that it CBS Sports,”[5] said CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus. 


Troika competes for entertainment branding business from entities like: HUGE, Ignition Creative, Media Arts Lab, and The Branding Farm in Los Angeles. In order to be nimble and meet the myriad needs of its clients, Troika pulled together a multi-faceted collaborative comprised of the following five sub-brands, as noted on

  • Giant Spoon is a new kind of agency designed for the future of media.
  • Fugitives is an editorial boutique that combines creativity, refined sensibilities, and simple solutions to push the boundaries of post-production.
  • Syn is a full-service music studio comprised of four divisions: Syn Songs (licensing & publishing), Syn Studios (original music production), Syn Entertainment (event production), and Syn Create (creative services).
  • Thinkingbox is a small shop with a broad range of skill sets, delusional ambitions, and late-night ‘Entourage’ binge-watching.
  • Collectively orchestrates influencer marketing initiatives to generate engagement and awareness.

Revenue Model

In the cluttered brand development landscape, Troika is a stand out due to the strength of its reputation and who’s who roster of big entertainment clients with deep pockets. The organization works on retainer basis for some clients and hourly fee-based projects for others. Additionally, its “band of brothers” group of smaller entities, mentioned earlier, help the business to thrive by servicing a variety of clients – in size and scope – even though its revenue model generally is essentially the same. The fact that Troika is able to provide different types of marketing solutions is their best weapon against downturns in the business and aggressive competition.



2 Powell, C. (2015) Fashion, beauty partners say ‘yes’ to new W Network series. Marketing (Canada).

3 Staff Writer. (2016) Sean McManus’ Super Bowl Odyssey. Cynopsis Media.

Dachman, J. (2016) Sports Graphics Forum: Troika’s Gil Haslam Goes Inside CBS Sports’ Rebrand and Super Bowl 50 Graphics Sports Video Group News.

Koegel, M. (2007) Troika’s Triple Threat Branding. Studio Monthly.

Morales, J. (2016) Big Business Changes Future. Emmy Magazine.

Feloni, R, (2015) The 10 best logo changes of 2015. Business Insider.

(2017) AT&T Sports Networks Rebands ROOT Sports.

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