Variety’s Digital Marketing Impact Report presented by Spotify Advertising returns to highlight marketing experts behind the most innovative content promotions of the past year.
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Head of Global Media
Boynton oversees paid media, influencers and integrations at Spotify, which aims to connect with audiences through authentic storytelling and community-driven initiatives. For instance, Spotify’s Fuego Mixtape takeover recently gave users the chance for their selections to be featured as the Fuego playlist of the week. “The challenge is that the world moves so fast,” says Boynton. “What’s cool today is not always cool tomorrow, so it’s always a question of, when do you shift or pivot?” She notes: “Where we show up for the next generation needs to feel like a one-on-one engagement versus an advertisement.”
Chief Global Marketing Officer, U.S. Networks and News
Warner Bros. Discovery
Following the $43 billion Warner Bros. Discovery merger in 2022, Bronzo went from leading marketing efforts for HGTV, Food Network and Cooking Channel to heading up the combined company’s lineup of more than 20 U.S. networks, which also includes TBS, Discovery, Cartoon Network and TruTV. Then, this past July, CNN was ladled on top. Says Bronzo: “We broke down the silos between the brands, which opened up a lot more opportunity to collaborate and changed the mindset of the team to be more about the success of the entire portfolio than just about any singular brand.”
Senior VP of Marketing and Creative
NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises
Chagui has been a driving force behind Telemundo’s big play for Latino soccer audiences. She drew on original research to craft the “El Mundial Lo Es Todo” (The World Cup Is Everything”) campaign for its exclusive Spanish-language U.S. broadcast of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, which attracted an average total audience of 2.58 million viewers across platforms (including Peacock). This past summer, she scored again with Telemundo’s coverage of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, which generated 1.5 billion minutes of views. “We have a great opportunity to talk to a Hispanic audience, which is such a big part of the growth of this country,” Chagui says.
Shannon Ryan, Aaron Goldman, Barrie Gruner, Pamela Levine, Erin Weir
President of Marketing, Disney Entertainment Television
Exec VP of Creative Marketing, Disney Entertainment Television
Exec VP of Marketing and Publicity, Hulu
Head of Marketing, Disney Branded Television and National Geographic Content
Exec VP of Marketing, ABC and Disney Entertainment Television
“We always make it a point to be where our audiences are, to listen to them and to connect with them,” Ryan says of her team that manages hundreds of titles. “For ‘Abbott Elementary,’ we partnered with Scholastic and sponsored book fairs. For ‘The Golden Bachelor,’ we hosted viewing parties at over 200 retirement communities, partnered with USA Pickleball on national tournaments and worked closely with dozens of ‘granfluencers’ on TikTok and Instagram.” Levine has led prominent TV marketing campaigns, driving viewership for tentpoles including “American Born Chinese” and “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series.” Goldman oversees creative strategy for ABC Entertainment, Hulu Creative, Freeform and Onyx Collective; he and his team are focused on using new ways to reach multiplatform audiences. Gruner’s role has expanded from overseeing marketing strategy, paid media, creative, events and social media for Hulu Originals (“The Handmaid’s Tale”) to include brand marketing for the entire Hulu platform. Weir oversees marketing teams for ABC Entertainment, ABC News and Disney Television Studios as well as owned media strategy and synergy across Disney Entertainment Television.
Director of Publishing
Since its August release, “Baldur’s Gate 3” has proven to be a major success for Belgian-based Larian Studios, receiving positive reviews and becoming one of the Top 10 most-played games on the Steam platform. Prior to working on the fantasy role-playing game, Douse previously oversaw publishing for “Divinity: Original Sin 2” and crafted live-streamed “Panel from Hell” showcases amid COVID-19 lockdowns to preview “BG3” developments. “The best place to reach your audience is the same place they buy their games and the places they talk about them,” says Douse. “Our philosophy has always been to reduce the distance between the developer and the audience.”
President, Brands and Ventures
Ferree has demonstrated a knack for pairing major artists with simpatico brands that not only burnish their respective images but also help a good cause, such as Canadian-born Justin Bieber’s pact with Canadian donut chain Tim Hortons that snagged a Cannes Lion Bronze Award and raised money for the Canadian coffeehouse chain’s Camp Day initiative. She also oversaw deals for Lil Dicky with Gopuff, J Balvin with Miller Lite and Ariana Grande’s R.E.M. beauty brand. “Every talent is different and at a different stage in their career, and each partner is different and at a different stage in their brand’s life cycle,” she says. “What is paramount is that there’s a mutual respect and shared value of the story we are telling and how we tell it.”
Senior VP, Consumer and Content Marketing
At Peacock, Fox is overseeing the campaigns of more than 2,000 live sporting events this year alone, including Wrestlemania 39 and all 64 matches of the FIFA Women’s World Cup. She leverages the influx of viewers they bring to draw attention to the streamer’s originals, including “Poker Face,” “The Traitors” and “Twisted Metal,” as well as attract new subscribers with demo-specific messages tailored to each sport. For instance, “a Premier League fan will generally be a bit younger and more metropolitan,” says Fox, who moved from New York to England with her 3-year-old child in March 2020, two weeks before the pandemic shutdown hit, to prep for the launch of Peacock. “We’re always surfacing content that we think speaks to the customer.”
Stephanie Gibbons, Sally Daws, Jason Phipps
President, Creative, Strategy and Digital, Multi-Platform Marketing
Exec VP, Advertising, Strategy and Digital
Senior VP, Digital Marketing
Gibbons and the FX marketing team have accelerated engagement on TikTok, driving a 600% increase year-over-year, as well as recently relaunching the network’s online destination FXNetworks.com. Daws, Phipps and the team helped FX launch its most-watched drama ever (“The Old Man”), most-watched comedy ever (“The Bear”) and most-watched unscripted series ever (“Welcome to Wrexham”). This innovative team considers social media on a show-by-show basis. “We focus on determining whether or not it fits well with the series that we are endeavoring to market,” says Gibbons. “We want to learn whether it works for that series and if we feel like it is relatively low risk and potentially high reward.”
Senior VP, Digital Strategy
A drummer during his high school and college years, Hrycyshyn knew if he wasn’t going to be behind a kit, he’d be helping artists, and he found the way to do it at Republic. In recent months, he’s executed numerous innovative digital campaigns for artists ranging from Taylor Swift (a call for fans to share their live moments on a unified TikTok search hub) to Metro Boomin (an activation on X where the more fans posted the hashtag for his album “Heroes & Villains,” the faster digital “paper” burned away to reveal its tracklist). “Aligning smart film teams, production crews, and coordinating every detail for flawless execution while delivering millions of views-engagements on social can be stressful, but it’s always an organized, chaotic dance,” he says.
Chief Brand and International Officer
Jurevics, the daughter of a librarian, is passionate about storytelling and loves being part of a company that brings content to millions of listeners in more than 180 countries. Under her leadership, Audible announced the Audible Original podcast series “Marvel’s Wastelanders” in Germany, France, Italy, India and Japan, all to be released exclusively on the service, and launched the “Call an Audible” campaign with NFL’s “Thursday Night Football.” “Users believe they have some ownership over the brand,” says Jurevics, who notes that they are “looking to co-create with you and ensure that your messaging and what you stand for is authentic, relevant and resonant with them.”
Senior VP of Marketing and Head of PlayStation Network, Americas
Sony Interactive Entertainment
Lempel has deep roots at Sony and now oversees all marketing of PlayStation hardware, software and digital services as well as marketing support. He’s especially proud of the campaigns that supported central brand ideals. “PlayStation is known for its original ads, but this past year we’ve taken a big leap forward in delivering new creative and campaigns that have been extremely innovative, surprising and playfully irreverent — hitting on our core brand tenets.” One such example is the “All Parents Can Relate” campaign for “God of War Ragnarök,” which portrayed “struggles” all parents battle through to become better guardians and featured parent-child celebrity appearances such as a Kratos-inspired Ben Stiller and his son Quinn.
JP Richards, Keri Moore
President of Marketing
Co-President of Marketing
Lionsgate Motion Picture Group
Richards and Moore are forever coming up with new and exciting ways to engage fans across platforms. Their campaign for “John Wick 4” included everything from a Reddit AMA with star Keanu Reeves to an augmented reality game on Snapchat. For “Saw X,” they sent a Billy puppet on a remote-controlled tricycle to various real-world locations, creeping out people on the streets and inspiring countless viral moments. Billy also parodied Nicole Kidman’s AMC Theaters ad. Digital promotion for “The Blackening” featured LeBron James, Kevin Hart and Meagan Good giving shout-outs to the film on their social accounts. “We’re looking at opportunities to put ourselves in the conversation so that we can be part of the things that are bubbling up on any given social platform at any given moment,” says Richards.
Marian Lee, Shelly Gillyard, Jonathan Helfgot, Barry Smyth
VP, Marketing, APAC
To date, the Netflix marketing team has staged more than 35 live experiences in 18 cities around the globe, helping attract 850 million followers to its social media accounts — including a TikTok channel with a larger following than Disney, Marvel, HBO Max, Hulu and Paramount combined, according to the streamer — that generate over 100 billion organic impressions annually. “We’re always thinking about both physical and digital activations and how they interplay with each other,” says Lee, who oversees all Netflix marketing. Smyth’s team sparked social sharing for the Japanese-set sports drama series “Sanctuary” when it installed a gigantic statue of a sumo wrestler on a train platform at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Station, while Helfgot’s team promoted “Extraction 2” with “sweaty” billboards in New York and Los Angeles that emitted beads of water from the image of star Chris Hemsworth’s face, and “Murder Mystery 2” with a fan challenge by YouTuber Jimmy “Mr. Beast” Donaldson, in which the winner received a new Lamborghini supercar. Gillyard’s team handles many of the streamer’s big live events, including the annual “Netflix Is a Joke” festival, which brings together some of the biggest names in comedy at dozens of venues across Los Angeles, and the five-day event “Geeked Week,” promoting its lineup of genre series, films and games.
Danielle Kupchak, Danielle De Palma, Brian Pianko, Faye Ugolnik, Tamar Teifeld
EVP, Global Creative Content
EVP Global Marketing
EVP, Head of Creative Advertising
SVP, Digital Marketing
The Paramount team engineered an impressive array of viral moments for its 2023 theatrical slate: They targeted horror fans with a text-to-speech AI filter on TikTok featuring Ghostface’s voice to promote “Scream VI” and raised awareness for “Smile” by planting creepily grinning actors in the audience of a trio of baseball games. For their big action franchises, they went appropriately huge, engaging 90-plus global influencers with more than 400 million total followers for “Transformers: Rise of the Beasts’’ and promoting “Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One” with a brand campaign that spawned 450 creator videos and 215 million views. “I think the advent of TikTok and the creator economy during COVID really has made a seismic shift in digital marketing,” says De Palma. “We’re doing much more than we ever did.”
Global Head of Content and Artist Marketing
Postelle spearheads the promotion for the “Amazon Music Live” concert series, leveraging its “Thursday Night Football” lead-in to create a win-win-win for fans, artists and the platforms that carry the programming (Twitch and Prime Video). “Artists benefit from the in-game promotion of concert series and their new music is promoted to an audience of millions they wouldn’t otherwise have access to,” says the 25-year-plus music industry veteran. This past spring, Postelle scored another big success with the live stream of the 12-day Primavera Sound music festival from Parc del Forum in Barcelona, Spain, which was seen by nearly 10 million viewers around the globe.
Tarek Al-Hamdouni, Anthony “ADP” De Padua, Carlos Cuadros
SVP, Digital Marketing
VP, Digital Marketing
VP, Digital Marketing
Under Al-Hamdouni’s leadership, the digital presence of RCA’s roster — including Doja Cat, H.E.R., Kane Brown and Flo Milli — has continued to grow. Cuadros is focused on digital marketing strategies for Becky G’s recently released regional Mexican project “Esquinas”; her collaboration with Peso Pluma, “Chanel,” crossed 100 million views on YouTube. ADP just led the digital marketing efforts for rapper Young Nudy, who has had viral success with “Peaches & Eggplants” featuring 21 Savage. “Building and growing the connection between fan and artist is tremendously fulfilling,” says Al-Hamdouni. “Seeing what an artist and their music can mean to a fan and how that connection can drive and inspire the artist in return provides us with endless opportunities to deepen that relationship through creative activations and storytelling.”
Chief Operating Officer
Rebbapragada oversaw global marketing for four of the top 10 films in the U.S. anime box office, including “Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero,” the widest theatrical release for Crunchyroll, and the upcoming film “Suzume,” directed by Makoto Shinkai. She also guided Crunchyroll through its acquisition by Sony Pictures Entertainment and has driven subscriber growth, led major M&A news, and transformed the annual Crunchyroll Anime Awards, bringing it for the first time to Tokyo and live streaming it around the world. “We got to connect fans to the creators themselves,” says Rebbapragada. “For fans to be able to see their favorite creators and the people behind their favorite shows get recognized was really incredible.”
Elias Plishner, Michael Keck, Georgina Cleveland, Rose Phillips
EVP, WW Digital Marketing & Data Analytics
VP, Digital Marketing, Distribution & Networks
VP, Global Digital Marketing
SVP, Global Digital Marketing & Social Media
Sony Pictures Entertainment
The Sony team took a big swing with its promotional push for “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse,” helping make it the animation division’s all-time highest-grosser. Activations included the Spider Society Ambassadors Program, with 200 celebs donning AI-generated “Spidersonas,” and its “Into the Fan-Verse” campaign, which called on fans to re-create the movie’s trailer in a variety of animation styles. Their social campaign for “Insidious: The Red Door” pranked bystanders on the streets with the film’s lipstick demon; the team staged scavenger hunts for red doors in three cities. “There was an incident where somebody actually took a door, but we got it back,” says Phillips.
Patrizio “Pato” Spagnoletto
Global Chief Marketing Officer, Direct-to-Consumer
Warner Bros. Discovery
Spagnoletto led the team that executed HBO Max’s Black Friday promo in 2022, offering the service for $1.99 a month for three months, resulting in the platform’s fourth-highest week of sign-ups, and followed by the massive launch campaign for its series “The Last of Us” in January. But his most far-reaching effort was the May launch of Max, the combined streaming service incorporating offerings from HBO Max and Discovery+. The campaign lasted nearly eight weeks, with traditional television and radio spots, social, at-home and in-theater advertisements. “The objective was surrounding our consumers with our message that Max is the one to watch,” he says. He’s currently gearing up for the international rollout of Max in 2024.
Exec VP, Consumer Engagement and Brand Strategy
Stone spearheads consumer engagement and brand strategy for NBCU’s cable portfolio — Bravo, E!, SyFy, Oxygen True Crime and USA Network. She also leads marketing for hit series including the “Real Housewives” franchise, the “Below Deck” franchise, “Vanderpump Rules” and “Top Chef,” among many others. She also oversees marketing for BravoCon, the in-real-life Bravo fan experience that has sold out all three years since 2019. Additional projects include “House of Villains” on E!, and the third season of “Chucky” on USA Network and SyFy. “Marketing is always a challenge because you’re following the audience,” says Stone. “What you’re constantly looking for is the new opportunity that really has impact and engagement.”
Head of Marketing
Strauss moved to Apple TV+ in January after nine years with Disney, where he most recently served as president of content and marketing for Disney+ and amplified several blockbusters, including Star Wars and Marvel projects. At Apple TV+, Strauss directs consumer marketing campaigns, creative advertising, media and promotions across original series and films, working closely with the heads of programming and head of publicity and awards. He now has his hands on several hit series for AppleTV+, including the third season of “The Morning Show,” Idris Elba’s new thriller series “Hijack” and a fourth season underway for astronaut drama “For All Mankind.”
Alex Sanger, Justin Pertschuk
EVP, Global Digital Marketing
SVP, Global Digital Marketing
The duo were behind many of this year’s most viral moments for juggernaut films such as “M3GAN,” “Cocaine Bear” and “Oppenheimer.” TikTok videos connected to Gerard Johnstone’s robotic horror movie have garnered almost a billion views, while “The Super Mario Bros. Movie’s” SMBPlumbing site generated over 35 million interactions and 1.6 million users. Other highlights include campaigns for “The Exorcist: Believer” and “Trolls Band Together.” “Before we did a single thing on TikTok for ‘Oppenheimer,’ you could already see there were millions of people on there talking about it,” says Sanger of the decision to create a campaign for it on the platform. “It’s not just going there but going there and having appropriate conversations.”
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