Name: Charlie Walk
Who he is: Newly minted exec VP of Creative Marketing & Promotion at Columbia Records Group, a division of Sony Music. Reporting to Columbia Records Group President Will Botwin, Walk has been instrumental in marketing and promoting artists from Aerosmith and Beyonce to John Mayer and Jessica Simpson.
Where he's from: Walk started his career in 1987 as a college marketing representative in Boston for CBS Records, which was ultimately purchased by Sony Music, the parent company of Columbia. The energetic Walk started at Columbia proper doing local promotion in 1990 then moved to New York with the company in 1991 to do national promotion.
What he's done: Walk has been a major point man for Columbia and Sony in its multi-year overarching co-marketing alliance with Pepsi-Cola North America. In fact he is currently putting together a program for Jessica Simpson, whose new single "Angels" is used in a :60 radio spot that promotes The WB network music series "Pepsi Smash." Pepsi contributed a million dollars in media; the spot pushes the audience to watch her performance on the July 16 edition of "Pepsi Smash." Walk was also in the middle of putting the band Switchfoot into a campaign called Pepsi First Taste and tied it into "Pepsi Smash". The band has gone on to sell a million records. "I have to give my partners at Pepsi a lot of credit for avoiding the safe choice of licensing hits with widespread familiarity and instead supporting new artists."
What's next: Walk says that Columbia will show no favoritism to its sister company, music site Sony Connect. "As broadband infiltrates the masses, we will support 100% legal downloading and any company that's involved in it." Walk also believes music programmers like MTV and Clear Channel have the ability to galvanize online music sales. "They could develop synergy of what's on the screen, which a veejay or host can relate back to a Web site that they create to buy music…the good news is that iTunes has done an amazing job but most people haven't experienced it. I think there's opportunity to create a wonderful, competitive online environment."
Stock-in-trade: According to Danny Socolof, President, Marketing Entertainment Group of America (MEGA) in Las Vegas: "He really is best-of-breed. He represents a modern, forward-thinking record company executive who not only understands the importance of collaboration with brands—most people get that today—but much more importantly, he is inventive, creative, and innovative."