Industry veteran Ricky Strauss will replace MT Carney as Walt Disney Studios' head of worldwide marketing, the studio said Friday, ending a messy chapter for the company.
Strauss will join Disney from Participant Media where has been the president since 2005, overseeing a slate of movies that has had mixed success.
Strauss' most recent experience is in production rather than marketing. He was previously a senior production executive at Sony after a decade at Columbia Pictures in marketing, and ran his own production company, Ricochet.
He collaborated with Disney on the break-out hit "The Help" last year, which Participant co-produced with DreamWorks.
“I am happy to welcome Ricky Strauss to The Walt Disney Studios family. With 25 years of industry experience, he brings a deep understanding of all aspects of the film business as well as incredible skill in branding and cutting-edge marketing,” Rich Ross, chairman of The Walt Disney Studios, said in a statement. “He will undoubtedly raise the Studios’ creative bar as we enter 2012 and look ahead at showcasing a spectacular slate of films to audiences around the world.”
Disney has been seeking to replace Carney for months, and has unsuccessfully courted senior marketing executives at other major studios.
The marketing job at Disney has evolved largely into one of coordination between the studio's major partners, DreamWorks, Marvel and Jerry Bruckheimer Productions. Pixar has its own marketing team as well.
The choice of Strauss, a consummate Hollywood insider, is a stark contrast to Carney, who was plucked from the world of New York advertising to run marketing at one of Hollywood's biggest movie companies.
At Participant Strauss, who was responsible for feature film production, acquisition and marketing, has overseen films including "Contagion," "Good Night and Good Luck" and "Syriana." Each of those were released through studio distributors.
In addition to his work at Participant, Strauss ran his own film and television production company, Ricochet Entertainment, where he executive produced "The Sweetest Thing," starring Cameron Diaz. Before Ricochet, Ricky served as senior vice president of production at Sony, where he developed and supervised film projects for the studio.
At Disney, Strauss will oversee global marketing for films released under the Disney banner, as well as those for Pixar Animation, Marvel Studios, and Touchstone Pictures banners, which includes DreamWorks Studios films.
Disney has been shopping the job for months, even as Carney remained in place. Carney's tenure was a checkered one. The Hollywood outsider was the subject of criticism and rumor almost immediately after leaving her New York City-based media planning and strategy firm Naked Communications, and joining Disney in April 2010.
At the time, Carney was seen by studio chief Rich Ross as a Hollywood outsider who would shake up Disney's marketing efforts, but that same status prevented her from finding her footing in the cliquish movie industry.
Full release below:
BURBANK, Calif. – January 13, 2012 – Rich Ross, Chairman of The Walt Disney Studios, announced today that Ricky Strauss has been named President of Marketing for The Walt Disney Studios. Strauss will oversee the Studios’ global marketing strategy encompassing creative, media, digital, promotions, publicity, research and synergy across all distribution channels for motion pictures released under the Walt Disney Pictures (including Walt Disney Animation and Pixar Animation), Marvel Studios, and Touchstone Pictures banners, which includes DreamWorks Studios films released via Touchstone.
“I am happy to welcome Ricky Strauss to The Walt Disney Studios family. With 25 years of industry experience, he brings a deep understanding of all aspects of the film business as well as incredible skill in branding and cutting-edge marketing,” said Ross. “He will undoubtedly raise the Studios’ creative bar as we enter 2012 and look ahead at showcasing a spectacular slate of films to audiences around the world.”
“The future of Disney movies is as exciting as the legacy, and I’m honored to have the opportunity to be a part of that. Disney, Pixar, Marvel, and DreamWorks Studios are among the world’s best and brightest brands,” said Strauss. “My experience at Participant has been incredible and I’m so proud of my colleagues and everything we accomplished. I look forward now to getting to work with the exceptional team at Disney, doing some of the most innovative marketing in the industry.”
A 25-year movie veteran, Strauss has created award-winning marketing campaigns for numerous feature films and has overseen all aspects of film production. He most recently served as President of Participant Media, where he oversaw the company’s marketing, production, and acquisition for a broad range of socially relevant and commercially viable films including this summer’s blockbuster The Help, acclaimed features The Kite Runner, The Visitor, and Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion, as well as documentaries such as Food, Inc. and the Academy Award®-winning An Inconvenient Truth and The Cove. Prior to joining Participant in 2005, Strauss founded Sony-based Ricochet Entertainment, where he executive-produced the Cameron Diaz film The Sweetest Thing. He also spent 16 years at Sony, where he served as a senior marketing executive (Columbia/TriStar Pictures) and later as Senior Vice President of Production.