Welcome to Media Play News’ first-ever Power Marketing special report. Here, we profile the campaigns behind some of the year’s top-selling disc and digital home releases — and the marketing executives and teams that made them happen.
Our focus is primarily on the big studios — and the big titles — but we kept an eye on independents and retailers as well. As you’ll see, there’s no shortage of ingenuity and innovation.
The Power Campaigns
Avengers: Infinity War — Disney Direct-to-Consumer & International
To capitalize on audience reaction to the epic and unexpected story arc of Avengers: Infinity War during the film’s theatrical run, Disney Direct-to-Consumer & International’s worldwide marketing team formed an aggressive pre-sell campaign. The campaign began at the theatrical window and reinforced that this film is the “beginning of the end of a 10-year journey” for the Marvel brand and is an essential must-have for both hardcore MCU collectors and general movie-loving audiences. The campaign capitalized on Marvel’s year-long 10th anniversary celebration, in which the brand was “always on” in theaters, and tied in with creative promotions driving the entire Marvel catalog.
Disney released a timed trailer with Marvel 10th anniversary events taking place at San Diego Comic-Con International a short time before the film’s July 31 digital release, resulting in a 109% lift in orders. The trailer generated 3.5 million organic impressions on Facebook within a 24-hour span. Additionally, Comic-Con attendees were given the opportunity to take part in a Twitter scavenger hunt that sent fans looking for “infinity stones” throughout the show floor. While only attendees participated in the actual hunt, it trended in Twitter’s top 10 nationally.
The Disney marketing team also launched innovative promotions with leading tech and gaming communities, including Marvel Studios’ first-ever Amazon Alexa Skill trivia game, which included a call to action to purchase the film on Amazon Prime Video.
On digital platforms, the team deployed several creative executions that generated excitement and increased sales. Thanos “took over” all Marvel and talent social media pages. A Facebook AR activation allowed users to apply Thanos’ “fade to ash” effects to their own pictures, and a video series was launched to bring casual consumers up to speed on the MCU backstory. The Russo brothers hosted a Vudu viewing party that generated hundreds of millions of impressions on Twitter and spiked digital sales by more than 33%.
The Disney marketing team also leveraged excitement about the film to create robust integrations with Cartoon Network, Adult Swim and Freeform, as well as leading sports brands, including ESPN’s e-sports airing of the Overwatch league, regional MLB home games and a custom Dodger Stadium takeover.
The international team planned big, bold stunts, including the installation of a massive fist gauntlet that “broke ground” in a key London mainline station, a light show in London where the Avengers “A” was beamed into the city skyline, and huge Blu-ray Disc cover installations that were erected in malls throughout Australia and New Zealand.
Avengers: Infinity War wound up being the No. 1 physical and digital release of 2018, and the fastest-selling digital release ever.
Batman: The Animated Series — Warner Bros. Home Entertainment (TV)
Jeff Brown and his team crafted an innovative, interactive 13-month campaign to successfully publicize and market the long-awaited release of the fully-remastered Batman: The Animated Series — Deluxe Limited Edition Blu-ray boxed set. The campaign strategically balanced traditional mainstream approaches with topline genre outreach, global entertainment promotion and grassroots social interaction.
The campaign utilized the two largest fan gatherings in the United States — San Diego Comic-Con and New York Comic Con — as tentpoles for announcements, exhibitions, media activations, and direct interaction with press and consumers. The promotional window opened with a surprise revelation of the remastering of the episodes at the “Batman: The Animated Series” 25th anniversary celebration panel before a capacity crowd of 3,000 at New York Comic Con in October 2017. WBHE continued a teaser approach for the following eight months until San Diego Comic-Con in 2018, with a full day of high-profile and genre-based media interviews capped by an at-capacity 2,000-seat panel, where most details were revealed. From there, WBHE enacted an aggressive three-month publicity blitz, leading up to a final New York Comic Con panel before 3,000 enthusiastic fans 17 days before the DVD and Blu-ray Disc’s street date.
Over the course of the 13-month campaign, WBHE employed numerous engaging publicity tactics to maintain fan interest, ramping up as street date approached. These efforts included:
- A stealth initial soft launch that garnered more than 2,000 preorders before officially announcing the product, resulting in a greater immediacy for initial demand;
- An announced lower-than-expected exclusive limited-edition number that drove even greater sales and forced an eventual expansion of that production run to more than double the original total;
- Inclusion of a digital copy with each disc set, as a consumer value add;
- Continuous social presence utilizing the acting stars of the series (Kevin Conroy, Tara Strong, Loren Lester, John Glover, Diane Pershing), as well as Bat-friendly celebrities (Kevin Smith, Troy Baker, Diedrich Bader, Jason O’Mara) to garner millions of impressions;
- Maintaining an active and responsive social presence to keep fans engaged and interested, as well as addressing their concerns for the myriad technical issues that befell the release;
- The creation of special split-screen videos to better exemplify the vast improvement between the original footage and the remastered episodes;
- The creation of an unboxing video featuring the series’ star with largest online following (Tara Strong), posted on street date;
- The production of a series of GIFs featuring cast and filmmakers with Tenor that garnered 250,000 added impressions;
- And a Twitter-based two-week promotion — “BTAS on Tour” — that allowed fans to “follow” the travels of an actual boxed set, including visits to Rockefeller Center, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Central Park, Springsteen on Broadway, the World Series at Dodger Stadium, Warner Bros. Studio Tour, Universal Studios, L.A. Comic Con, Randy’s Donuts, Voodoo Donuts, the “Friends” couch and more.
Bumblebee — Paramount Home Entertainment
For the global home entertainment release of the hit film Bumblebee, the Paramount Home Entertainment (PHE) marketing team executed a multi-phase campaign to drive digital and physical sales and generate tons of buzz. The team additionally elevated the title with an innovative product offer: 14 deleted/extended scenes and an animated motion comic with a new Bumblebee adventure — also offered as a printed comic in the Blu-ray. The gift-ability of the title was heavily promoted on packaging and through a special trailer, helping to drive pre-Easter sales.
PHE targeted multiple audiences through comprehensive media buys during both the electronic sellthrough and physical windows. From major sporting events such as MLB’s opening day to Nickelodeon’s Kids Choice Awards and promoted posts across social media, the carefully orchestrated advertising campaign reached parents, kids, “Transformers” fans and more to ensure awareness and drive purchases across all consumer targets.
Augmenting the paid media was a robust social media campaign that included multiple custom activations for the various fan segments. Among the highlights were a partnership with Volkswagen that blended contextual storytelling with custom social creative, concerted messaging for National Women’s Day highlighting the film’s heroine, and a wildly successful April Fool’s activation that included a vintage-looking 4:3 digital trailer for a special VHS release that generated online coverage reaching 53 million unique monthly visitors and garnered 12 million social impressions.
The campaign was rounded out by widespread publicity including news coverage of a towering Bumblebee at WonderCon and San Francisco’s Pier 39, a behind-the-scenes press day with the film’s screenwriter, foley artists and Bumblebee in VW form as well as talent interviews, Easter segments and more.
Ultimately, the combined marketing efforts drove both digital and physical sales that exceeded expectations and sent Bumblebee to the top of the sales charts.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom — Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
To market the global home release of the huge blockbuster hit Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, the marketing team at Universal Pictures Home Entertainment developed a groundbreaking interactive campaign in partnership with Facebook and Messenger. The campaign focused on sharable in-store and in-home augmented-reality (AR) experiences showcasing the film’s celebrated dinosaurs. It was not only the largest effort of its kind for both partners, but also the first integrated AR experience across the Facebook family of apps — specifically Facebook and Messenger.
The day the film was released on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, Blu-ray Disc and DVD, participating retailers across 18 countries set up eye-catching Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom displays with instructions on how to activate the AR experience. Shoppers could scan a special QR code to launch the sharable AR effect that placed the ferocious Indoraptor directly in their path, providing them with an up-close encounter with one of the newest dinosaurs from the “Jurassic” franchise. In the United States alone, the experience spanned more than 17,000 stores across multiple national retail and grocery chains.
A second experience awaited buyers in the United States, Canada and 14 other countries. The in-home experience was activated through
a collectible insert that came with each purchased disc, using the Messenger camera. The experience unveiled an interactive baby version of the film’s Velociraptor hero, Blue. The animated Baby Blue could be placed in any environment, and images and video of her behaving curiously, playfully and aggressively could be captured and shared with friends.
“Just as Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom transports viewers into an immersive world of discovery and wonder, the new AR offerings extended that excitement and innovation to retail stores and consumer homes,” said Hilary Hoffman, UPHE EVP of global marketing. “We were thrilled to have a world-class partner in Facebook to help power these engaging AR experiences.”
The AR activation was one of several successful elements of the overall integrated marketing campaign, which also included broadcast and digital marketing as well as a global press event. The AR activation was used to directly target consumers, offering them an additional incentive to purchase the film.
Ready Player One — Warner Bros. Home Entertainment (Film)
To market the global home entertainment release of Ready Player One, Jessica Schell, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment EVP and GM of film, and her team developed and implemented a successful comprehensive marketing strategy targeting fans of both the film and the book — along with general film enthusiasts. The campaign culminated with an immersive experiential activation at San Diego Comic-Con, leading to strong physical and digital sales, making it one of the top-performing home entertainment titles of the year.
Drafting off of Warner Bros.’ successful theatrical marketing campaign for the film, the WBHE marketing team worked closely with Blair Rich, president of worldwide marketing for Warner Bros. Pictures and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, to align campaigns and leverage best practices from the film’s theatrical opening. Marketing data insights from the theatrical team helped WBHE hone in on key Ready Player One fans, while tapping into relevant expansion audiences, focusing on sci-fi/adventure aficionados, Steven Spielberg fans, and consumers who buy a lot of home entertainment product.
During the theatrical marketing campaign, WBHE used “homage” poster art featuring Ready Player One lead character Parzival incorporated into one-sheets of classic Warner Bros. films such as Bullitt and The Lost Boys, providing the imagery to key digital retailers iTunes and Vudu.
WBHE also created a new interactive activation at Comic-Con. Featuring iconic sets and moments from the film, the activation also incorporated a pivotal scene from The Shining. The installation contained two Ready Player One-themed escape rooms, which tested fans’ knowledge of 1980s culture; re-creations of several sets from the film; a full arcade; props and costumes from the film; and photo opportunities accompanied by custom hashtags. The “surprise” element exclusive to WBHE was a faithful re-creation of the Overlook Hotel hallway, elevators, the doors to room 237, and the iconic bathroom from The Shining, along with atmospheric sound and visual effects.
WBHE hosted a media and influencer preview prior to the activation opening that included a private guided tour and stand-up and photo opportunities. In keeping with the retro 1980s themes included in the film, a VHS copy of the film was designed and created and was given to press along with a copy of the film’s soundtrack on vinyl, which was released by WB’s Water Tower Music. The highly coveted VHS giveaway was signed by Ernest Cline, author of the Ready Player One novel.
The activation was a social media success, reaching more than 3.2 million followers across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. The activation also secured the No. 1 spots across the Ready Player One social accounts, including the highest-performing posts on Instagram for the activation announcement as well as a post giving a look inside the exhibit. The Facebook page also saw the highest-performing post with a photo album featuring images from SDCC weekend, and the No. 1 Tweet featuring the “Riverdale” cast at the activation.
Venom — Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Following a top-grossing run at the box office and overwhelmingly positive audience reviews, Lexine Wong, Senior EVP of worldwide marketing, and the SPHE marketing team took advantage of the holiday gift-giving time period with a December release. They set goals to create an innovative marketing campaign for the home entertainment release of Venom that would break through the holiday clutter, be buzzworthy, have the potential to go viral, and proclaim collectibility. The campaign took a multi-pronged approach to target consumers, press and media with various standout activations.
Leveraging social analytics and fan conversations, the team took a risk and leaned into the comedy and fandom of the Eddie Brock and Venom relationship. The result was a new home entertainment announce trailer that was a tongue-in-cheek parody of traditional romantic comedies. Debuting the trailer exclusively with Entertainment Weekly and garnering widespread pickup across mainstream, fanboy and entertainment press, the trailer was further integrated across paid media and all digital touchpoints of the campaign. The response was outstanding, accumulating millions of views over the life of the campaign.
In addition, to celebrate the digital release, the team partnered with Super News Live to host a Venom Block Party with a special guest appearance by Venom co-creator Todd McFarlane, a live mural painting by local and well-known street artists, Venom-themed snacks and special cast appearances. The event generated extensive press coverage with both local and national press outlets.
Next, in a first-of-its-kind co-branded NFL broadcast partnership, Wong and her team worked with the NFL to create a series of hype videos integrating Venom with football highlights to get sports fans excited about the upcoming match-ups.
Amazon had an exclusive limited-edition Venom Blu-ray with glossy foldout packaging and art from illustrator Marko Maney.
Finally, to drive customers to Walmart, SPHE created special 1980s “throwback” Venom action figures packed in a Blu-ray gift set, complemented by a themed commercial that was amplified on paid and organic social, digital media and on the retailer’s channels.
Through pulling all marketing levers and taking a unique approach to a holiday campaign, the Venom home entertainment campaign made Adweek’s “The 7 Biggest Movie Marketing Moments of 2018,” the only home entertainment campaign to be featured.
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The Power Marketers
EVP and GM, Television, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
Brown for more than two decades has been an instrumental member of the Warner Bros. Home Entertainment (WBHE) team, helping guide the division to the forefront of home entertainment innovation. Brown’s team manages all digital and physical WB Television (WBTV) content for both new-release and catalog on a global basis. WBHE content includes live-action TV series, non-theatrical family and animation programming. Additionally, Brown manages third-party partner relationships with content owners such as BBC as well as original content development exclusively for home distribution. In recent years, under Brown’s tenure, WBHE has achieved five years of television transactional share growth; over 50% expansion of its made-for-video slate, including the Home Media Award-winning top DTV of 2018, The Death of Superman; leadership in TV digital with innovation in pricing, promotion, new customer acquisition strategies and use of data-driven analytics; and leadership in “collection offerings,” including the Home Media Awards presented by Media Play News title of the year for 2018 —
Batman: The Animated Series — Deluxe Limited Edition Blu-ray boxed set.
Regarded as a digital pioneer in the home entertainment realm, Brown has paced WB’s television digital efforts for high-profile series such as “The Big Bang Theory” and “Friends,” as well as for evergreen animation brands such as “Scooby-Doo.” Brown further grew WB’s success with an unprecedented expansion into made-for-video content.
Early in his career, Brown was an instrumental member of the Warner Bros. team that led the DVD/Blu-ray Disc revolution. He was later based in London as Warner Bros. head of EMEA, where he helped engineer the company’s adaptation of a global franchise marketing planning process. He then moved back to the United States and assumed responsibility of WBHE’s television business unit.
Before joining WBHE in 1996, Brown worked in marketing management for General Mills and Nestle, as well as operating as general manager/owner of two successful entrepreneurial ventures.
Hilary J. Hoffman
EVP, Global Marketing, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
Hoffman has consistently shown a knack for leveraging creativity, data and intuition to craft marketing plans for the home release of some of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters and franchises, from Jurassic World to Despicable Me and the “Fast and Furious” line. With an eye on maximizing revenue, she defines go-to-market consumer strategies and the overall approach for consumer engagement, both through traditional media and through new platforms and technologies. Hoffman and her team focus on the complete packaged-goods and digital product lifecycle. Her marketing ability and leadership strengths were recognized in 2014 when she was asked to transform the marketing department into an innovative global organization.
Hoffman currently oversees strategic marketing and business strategy for Universal Pictures and its distributed lines worldwide across new-release, catalog and TV properties for both physical and digital. She is currently implementing new data-driven decision-making tools to optimize media spend and measure effectiveness of marketing elements.
SVP, Global Marketing, Disney Direct-to-Consumer & International
Kite oversees global marketing for the in-home release of studio and TV content distributed by The Walt Disney Studios and Walt Disney Television. He is responsible for the global in-home release calendar of new-release and catalog titles across physical and digital retailers, overall creative product strategy, linear and digital marketing and customer relationship management that drive sales, ownership and consumption of the company’s content. This includes the creation and implementation of all creative marketing and bonus materials.
With nearly 20 years of experience at The Walt Disney Company, Kite has held leading roles in digital marketing, product management and distribution strategy. Most notably, Kite’s team has spearheaded campaigns for six of the top 10 bestselling in-home titles of the past 36 months: including the top selling physical releases of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War, which currently holds the record as the bestselling 52-week digital title of all time. Kite and his team are currently working on campaigns for Captain Marvel, Avengers: Endgame, Alita: Battle Angel and Dark Phoenix.
EVP, Home Entertainment and Digital Distribution Marketing, Lionsgate
Kozlowski oversees marketing efforts across traditional and emerging platforms and technologies for Lionsgate’s entire home entertainment and digital distribution division. The division includes the distribution of Lionsgate’s feature film slate, titles from one of the largest television businesses in the world, Starz original programming, a 17,000-title film and television library, and titles from leading content partners such as Roadside Attractions, A24, CBS Films, Grindstone, Pantelion and Saban Films. Kozlowski recently transformed the global marketing team to focus on complete lifecycle marketing and distribution strategies, planning for content from its initial release through the streaming and TV windows. In addition, Kozlowski plays a lead role in the studio’s enterprise-wide marketing technology, ad technology, market research, marketing analytics, CRM and customer acquisition initiatives.
Kozlowski previously served as SVP of digital marketing, leading Lionsgate’s digital marketing strategy. She has also overseen the execution of Lionsgate’s domestic EST/VOD sales efforts and distribution deals with Roadside Attractions, Miramax Films and StudioCanal. Prior to joining Lionsgate, she oversaw campaigns for marketing agency A.D.D. Marketing + Advertising as well for the nonprofit organization Film Independent.
Her biggest challenge, she said, is “creating clever campaigns that generate attention while remaining authentic to each IP and its audience. With a wealth of content available to consumers and so many marketing messages targeting them, cutting through the clutter authentically is more important than ever.” Her biggest opportunity, she said, is the fact that more content is being consumed than ever — and there are more channels for audiences to choose from, as well. “As someone who grew up in a smaller Southern city with a love for indie film, I had to really work to access content that interested me,” Kozlowski said. “The immediacy that consumers have to connect to all kinds of stories today is incredibly exciting.”
Kozlowski said that the arrival of motion picture group chairman Joe Drake and president of worldwide marketing Damon Wolf to Lionsgate the past year “has reinvigorated our data marketing initiatives. With their support, we launched the Lionsgate Data Center this year to help us better locate and understand our consumers. As someone who’s been working on marketing technology and consumer data for over four years, it’s incredibly exciting to see data-driven decision making taken the next level.”
EVP, Worldwide Marketing, Paramount Home Entertainment
Marçais has served as EVP of worldwide marketing for Paramount Home Entertainment for just over a year, overseeing brand, creative, media, customer marketing, international marketing and consumer research for all of the studio’s home entertainment releases on physical and digital. He reports to Bob Buchi, president of Paramount Home Entertainment.
Marçais previously served as EVP of worldwide brand and customer marketing for 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. In this role he oversaw the release campaigns for all transactional businesses (Video-on-Demand, DVD, Blu-ray Disc and Digital HD) and also managed joint consumer marketing efforts with digital retailers and U.S. and international operators. During his tenure Marçais was a key driver of the division’s transformation from a pure physical distribution company into a digital new media company. His marketing savvy helped spur sales to consumers of such films as The Martian, Joy, Brooklyn, and the “X-Men,” “Ice Age” and “Planet of the Apes” franchises.
Marçais began his career with French car manufacturer Citroën and joined Fox Video France in 1991, where he held numerous marketing and sales positions. From 2002 to 2006 he served as Fox’s VP of marketing for the European home entertainment operation. Marçais relocated to Los Angeles in 2006 to serve as SVP of international marketing for Fox and became EVP of worldwide brand and consumer marketing in 2012.
EVP and GM, Film, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
Schell joined Warner Bros. in 2014 and has global responsibility for all operations related to the physical and digital sales, marketing, creative, distribution, finance and administrative functions of the studio’s film home entertainment releases, including new theatrical titles and catalog. Schell has been successful in combining traditional marketing strategies with her extensive background in digital marketing and new media to create cutting-edge campaigns for such titles as Wonder Woman, Aquaman, It, Ready Player One, Crazy Rich Asians, American Sniper and the “Lego” franchise, driving both digital and physical sales. Schell also identifies and engages new technology marketing opportunities and platforms for the studio’s home entertainment offerings, including virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality.
Schell oversees the continued growth of WBHE’s Blu-ray Disc business, and also manages the growing market for 4K UHD Blu-ray titles, including the top-performing 2001: A Space Odyssey, Blade Runner, The Matrix Trilogy and The Dark Knight Trilogy. She has been instrumental in the continued growth of the digital transaction business, including electronic sellthrough and VOD. During her tenure, Warner Bros. has been the No. 1 home entertainment theatrical studio with a 17% share, the No. 1 home entertainment theatrical catalog studio with a 20% share, and the No. 1 home entertainment physical 4K studio with a 22% share, with consumers spending more than $100 million in combined sellthrough and rental sales of WB 4K theatrical product.
Additionally, under Schell’s leadership WBHE received three Home Media Awards presented by Media Play News for 2018 home entertainment offerings, including Best Blu-ray Disc and Best Restoration for the 2001: A Space Odyssey 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, and Best Horror Disc for It.
Prior to joining Warner, Schell spent nine years at NBC Universal, most recently serving as EVP of worldwide new media and digital entertainment for Universal Pictures.
Worldwide Marketing, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Wong leads Sony Pictures Television’s Global Home Entertainment marketing team. She is charged with delivering breakthrough marketing campaigns across a wide range of product from Sony Pictures Entertainment’s studio labels, spurring consumer engagement and driving transactions across both digital and physical windows. Her specific areas of oversight include consumer and brand strategy, creative advertising, media and digital, PR and strategic partnerships, content development for digital/physical product, and new product development.
Wong began her career at Young & Rubicam, the ad agency, and after joining what is now Sony Pictures Home Entertainment rose to EVP of Worldwide Marketing in 2001 and her present position five years later, just as the industry was launching Blu-ray Disc.
Wong’s focus is on providing value and measurable impact for consumers through entertaining, shareable and highly interactive experiences across all channels. Wong’s insights-driven marketing strategy provides a strong foundation for product development and continued marketing innovation around new platforms critical for growth in the industry, such as Movies Anywhere, virtual reality, augmented reality, 4K UHD and other direct-to-consumer digital offerings.
Under her direction, Wong’s team in 2018 was responsible for buzzworthy publicity and media campaigns for Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Venom and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.
The Power Teams
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Jennifer Anderson, SVP, Marketing, is responsible for leading the strategic development and execution of brand marketing and creative for all SPHE new release and catalog business. She oversees a cross functional team including brand and product marketing, promotions and creative advertising.
Jane Mohon, SVP, Marketing Services, is responsible for data-driven consumer strategy overseeing digital and social media marketing, traditional and digital media planning and buying as well as publicity. She finds synergies across paid, owned and earned media by connecting the dots among consumer activation opportunities.
Joe Burg, Executive Director, Content Development, leads a team of content producers in the ideation and production of home entertainment original content and is a lead producer on new technology initiatives.
Gregg Shack, VP, Creative Advertising, guides the team’s creative strategy, developing key art, print and audio visual assets for ad campaigns.
Jana Simmons, VP, TV & Customer Marketing, partners with the commercial teams and customers to develop marketing programs for all SPHE’s transactional retail partners.
Amelia Rogers, SVP, Integrated Marketing, oversees the integrated marketing team covering both owned and third-party content.
Erin Carter, SVP, Integrated Marketing, focuses on retail marketing and distribution efforts.
Whitney Dickinson, VP, Media and Data, runs media planning and the division’s efforts for the Lionsgate Data Center.
Tom Gundred, SVP, Creative Development, oversees print, AV and digital creative direction across film and television content.
Paramount Home Entertainment
Dina Marovich, SVP, Worldwide Media & Interactive Marketing, oversees all media planning and buying for the division.
Rozita Tolouey, SVP, Brand Marketing, drives the division’s global marketing strategies for new releases and acquisitions.
Michele Bell, SVP, Worldwide Creative Services, is responsible for all of the division’s creative advertising materials.
Brenda Ciccone, SVP, Worldwide Publicity & Communications, oversees all publicity and corporate communications for the division on a global basis.
Melinda Froelich, SVP, International Marketing, is responsible for international marketing, advertising, public relations, promotions and release strategy.
Hilarie Hildebrandt, SVP, Customer Marketing, focuses on executing consumer-focused programs with each retail client.
Alanna Powers, VP, Brand Marketing, oversees strategies for catalog titles.
Leda Chang, VP, Digital Marketing, drives interactive initiatives.
Jacqueline Gustafson, VP, Home Media Content, supervises bonus material strategies.
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
Pam Blum, SVP, UPHE Marketing, oversees creative marketing services and the development of value-added content for UPHE’s releases on a worldwide basis.
Lea Porteneuve, SVP, Global Publicity & Communications, oversees global business, technology and executive communications for UPHE, spearheading all strategic publicity initiatives in support of the studio’s digital and physical home entertainment offerings.
Jeff Ackermann, SVP, Global Brand Marketing — Live Action New-Release & Catalog, spearheads global strategic marketing, product development and management of new-release titles from Universal Pictures and Focus Features, and the studio’s extensive catalog library.
Stephanie Lutjens, VP, Global Brand Marketing — Family, TV & Promotions, leads global strategic marketing, product development and management of family new release and TV, in addition to managing worldwide home entertainment promotions.
Joe Eibert, VP, Digital Marketing, leads digital marketing strategic planning and execution for UPHE releases.
Nadia Haney, VP, Global Marketing, Emerging Technology, is responsible for consumer-focused global strategic marketing for
Denise Haro, SVP, Global Consumer Insights & Strategy, oversees business insights, marketing data analytics, and UPHE’s consumer insights and research with a focus on aligning global commercial strategy around product, window, messaging and innovation.
Ted Chi, VP, Digital Marketing Strategy, is responsible for establishing and leading the strategy and execution of marketing for the Digital Distribution group.
Sandy Choi, SVP, Brand Marketing, North America Partnerships, manages the North American third party partners which includes developing marketing campaigns for partner releases across both physical and digital platforms and leading the cross-functional team that oversees the overall management of partner relationships.
Kelly Harrington, VP, Global Brand Marketing, Catalog, 1440 Productions & Licensing, leads global strategic marketing and management of UPHE catalog releases, 1440 Production new releases, and commercial marketing for licensing.
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
Kristina Fugate, SVP, Marketing, Film, handles all theatrical new-release and catalog brand marketing efforts across disc and digital platforms, which also includes creative advertising, franchise lifecycle management and global strategy.
Chris Baldwin, SVP, Worldwide Promotions & Partnerships, oversees all global promotions and partnerships for WBHE, including new-release, catalog, TV, family and animation titles.
Jack Walker, SVP, Media & Digital Marketing, oversees all media and digital marketing for WBHE, including new-release, catalog, TV, family and animation, and games. Walker reports to Jessica Schell and Jeff Brown.
Emily Zalenski, SVP, Worldwide Publicity, Film, oversees worldwide publicity, events and experiential marketing efforts for new-release and catalog titles. She also manages corporate communications for WBHE.
Nicole Coleman, SVP, Trade Marketing and Sales Integration, oversees the theatrical catalog P&L for the home entertainment group across the physical and digital retail landscape, and also leads trade marketing and sales planning for both physical and digital film and television content.
Laura Lupinetti, VP, Film Trade Marketing, is responsible for driving go-to-market strategy for WBHE’s new-release and catalog businesses, curating content and price variability to maximize sales and placement across various retail windows.
Rosemary Markson, SVP, TV Marketing, leads global marketing for Warner Bros. TV series across all transactional platforms, with responsibility for strategy development, product management, consumer marketing and business planning for current on-air series and library/catalog content.
Mary Ellen Thomas, VP, Television Marketing, Family & Animation, oversees product development and marketing for animated and live-action made for videos, episodic animation, and partner brands (Peanuts, Dr. Seuss, Viz Media, and WWE).
Melissa Hufjay, VP, Publicity, Television, oversees worldwide publicity, events and Comic-Con presence for all television, family, animation and live-action/animated made-for-video titles.
Zandra Palmer, VP, Trade Marketing, provides strategic direction to field sales and brand marketing teams in the development of effective retail programs across all distribution platforms in North America, both physical and digital, to achieve or exceed financial objectives.
Beyond the Majors
In addition to major studio promotions, Media Play News selected some notable campaigns from the independent studio and consumer retail realm:
The Final Wish — Cinedigm
The Final Wish has become one of Cinedigm’s highest-grossing VOD, digital and physical releases of 2019 due to a well-structured campaign consisting of grassroots, social media, publicity and traditional media. The horror film, released on digital, VOD and theatrically Feb. 8 (on disc March 19), premiered at Screamfest, the largest horror festival in the United States, and maintained its momentum through word-of-mouth screenings with horror site Dread Central. Social media consisted of a seven-month campaign in which engagement was high, boosted by an extremely targeted paid campaign and organically by a supportive cast and crew. A 30-second spot was created for TV and YouTube highlighting the film’s pedigree and cast.
About the Marketer: Kim Staruk, executive director of marketing, Cinedigm
Staruk joined the company in March 2014. She oversees the general partner relationship, overall business strategy and marketing plans for key content partners such as Hallmark, Status Media and the NHL. Staruk previously spent four years as a brand manager at Universal Music and two years at Sony.
“Awards Watch” — FandangoNow
Capitalizing on Fandango’s position as the destination for all things movies, FandangoNow’s annual Awards Watch Campaign was a Fandango-FandangoNow, cross-company collaboration. As part of a promotion with “The Today Show” and to help drive tune-in to the Golden Globes, FandangoNow offered a code for 50% off all Globe-nominated movies, from the day the nominees were announced on “Today” through the following weekend. During Awards season, culminating with the Academy Awards, nominated movies contributed up to 50% of FandangoNow’s business. Both past winners and new-release nominees were supported across the platform with all marketing touchpoints, including homepage takeovers and dynamic awards checklists, across connected devices and TVs, and on social media.
About the Marketer: Nantalie Song, senior director of marketing, FandangoNow
Song is the brand and consumer marketing lead for Fandango’s transactional video-on-demand service. She oversees marketing strategy and ad campaigns across owned-and-operated platforms, including social, smart TVs and OTT devices. She weaves research into stories to drive customer acquisition and retention, as well as collaboration among internal and external partners.
About the Marketer: Chad Ludwig, head of brand marketing, Fandango
Ludwig leads brand strategy and growth efforts for Fandango (ticketing), FandangoNow and Rotten Tomatoes. Previously, he has served in similar leadership roles, including COO of Oxford Road (a direct-to-consumer advertising agency), head of marketing for JibJab (expanding their subscription eCard business and launching the kids entertainment brand, StoryBots), and GM for Disney Movies Online (Disney’s initial foray into streaming movies and premium content). He’s successfully led a variety of efforts across business models (direct-to-consumer subscription, micro-transaction and/or e-commerce) and platforms (mobile, web, social and app-based).
“Back to the Movies” — Redbox
Redbox executive Ash Eldifrawi leveraged his experience as both a licensed clinical psychologist and a marketing executive to forge the “Back to the Movies” campaign. The continuing campaign, which began in August 2018, is aimed at combating digital isolation and creating meaningful consumer dialogue around the power of Movie Nights in bringing people together. The campaign encouraging co-watching has become part of “the overall positioning and core mission of our company,” he says.
A Redbox August 2018 Omnibus Survey found 61% of Americans missed the days when movie nights were a planned activity with friends and family; 58% of Americans said binge-watching TV shows — an activity most often done alone on the small screen — has replaced their movie-watching experience; 68% of Americans said having a regular movie night would bring them closer to friends/family; and 81% of Americans said watching a movie is therapeutic/makes them feel better. As a psychologist, Eldifrawi backed up the campaign with further research that showed binge-watching stimulates the pleasure center of the brain that drives addiction while watching a feature together with others stimulates a different part of the brain that has to do with deeper meaning.
The campaign is promoted on social media with videos on millennial-targeted ATTN:, with a spot that explains the psychological dangers of too much isolated binging, and on mom-targeted Scary Mommy, with a spot that features a mother who neglects her family to watch her phone.
The Redbox site further promotes the continuing campaign with a page asking viewers to take a pledge to “escape your digital bubble” and “enjoy more movie nights” with the hashtag #BacktotheMovies. Pledgees get a surprise offer. Next up, engaging studio partners in the cause and a wider media campaign.
About the Marketer: Ash Eldifrawi, chief marketing and customer experience officer, Redbox
Eldifrawi is responsible for all functions of product management and marketing, where he works to drive alignment and collaboration between different functions for new products, services and enhancements. Prior to joining Redbox, he served as chief commercial officer at Gogo, where he joined in 2010 after serving as CMO at Hayneedle. Earlier in his career, he served as director of brand advertising at Google, and spent time at Wrigley and in management consulting at McKinsey & Co. He recently co-authored the book The Ten Worlds: The New Psychology of Happiness, building on his doctoral work in clinical psychology at The Chicago School of Psychology, where his research focused on neurology and biopsychology.
(Additional reporting by Stephanie Prange.)