Former Movie Exec Puts Know-How to Use at MediaVest

Robin Seidner D'Elia Tackles New Forms of Marketing at Branded-Entertainment Division

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Robin Seidner D'Elia has found a silver lining in Time Warner's messy merger of the now-defunct New Line Cinema and Warner Bros. Entertainment earlier this year.
Robin Seidner D'Elia
Robin Seidner D'Elia

The movie studio's former senior VP-national TV promotions and marketing has landed at Publicis Groupe's MediaVest, where she is the new senior VP-group director at Connectivetissue, the agency's branded-entertainment arm. Ms. Seidner D'Elia will be charged with identifying new entertainment opportunities for some of the biggest marketing heavy hitters, including Coca-Cola, Kraft and Procter & Gamble. She will report to Brian Terkelsen, exec VP-managing director, Connectivetissue, who recently helped develop the upcoming "Blush: The Search for the Next Great Make-Up Artist" for Lifetime as a sponsored series for P&G's Max Factor brand.

"Robin and Connectivetissue both have outstanding track records of entertainment marketing and product integration across all platforms," Mr. Terkelsen said in a statement of his new hire. "Robin's experience in producing original television content in support of film marketing enhances Connectivetissue's ability to create high-quality, consumer-focused entertainment that works for brands."

While at New Line, Ms. Seidner D'Elia helped devise marketing strategies for major film franchises such as "Lord of the Rings" and "Austin Powers" as well as the recent hits "Hairspray," "Sex and the City" and "Wedding Crashers." Having operated under the big gamble that is the studio marketing model for the last 13 years -- spending two to three months trying to generate awareness for one weekend's worth of business -- Ms. Seidner D'Elia is looking forward to the flexibility and brand-building that her new role provides. She spoke recently with Madison & Vine about what else she has in store for the new gig.

Madison & Vine: You spent 13 years in the studio business at New Line. What appealed to you about going to other side of the media-buying table at Connectivetissue?

Robin Seidner D'Elia: What was exciting for me was the opportunity to work with brands that are so iconic, many of which I grew up with, and the longevity that's associated with these brands. Whereas with movies, which I loved passionately, there's really a cycle with these films. At the very most you're working with them through a theatrical release, a home-entertainment release and potentially video on demand or pay-per-view. If you're lucky enough, there's a sequel, in the case of "Lord of the Rings" or "Austin Powers." That was the closest I really got to working on long-term brands.

So the idea of being able to continue growing with the brand, continue contributing to the continuity of it, was really exciting and appeals to me. It's exciting to keep building upon something from a marketing perspective. It's kind of the walk, jog, run model. You try something, you get to first base then you come back, you're on second and then you hit the home run.

M&V: So how often did you find it challenging, working within the studio-marketing model, to try and build buzz against a film that didn't do so hot in its first weekend? What will be different about creating branded-entertainment projects?

Ms. Seidner D'Elia: [With branded entertainment], you really have the opportunity to build upon something you established. It's taking the kernel of an idea you begin with, allowing it to take form and really get some steam so it can continue to evolve, and I can continue to contribute.

At MediaVest it'll run the gamut because there are no rules. I'm working with a fantastic team, and they've been doing it here successfully for quite some time already. I'm hoping that I could contribute and continue to grow the existing business and the things they're working on.

M&V: What did your previous experience teach you about the importance of infiltrating new media channels and social networking?

Ms. Seidner D'Elia: At New Line, especially growing up in this organization, we all kind of did it together. I was the client, so there weren't as many layers as [there are] working within an agency. We were really able to work together, department to department, with our national promotions marketing group, in bringing everything full circle to make sure if social networking made sense or if it enhanced the piece I was working on for on-air. To look at things from a 360 perspective and hit all the different platforms is essential.

I think as far as looking at programs holistically, that's important, and for all the groups coming together and being on the same page. The nice thing about Connectivetissue is we sit between buying and planning, so we're really informed when we come to clients with opportunities.

M&V: You also know better than most marketers how crucial word of mouth is to a marketing campaign, and how it can be both friend and foe. Any instances where you've found a movie succeeded in spite of bad word-of-mouth?

Ms. Seidner D'Elia: There are certain tactics that you have in approaching a movie's release from a marketing standpoint. Most of them are proven, but at the end of the day you can have the greatest marketing campaign but if no one wants to see the movie it can only do so much. You might have a really good opening weekend, but clearly the word of mouth leads to the strongest open.

As much as you learn from one project, it teaches you a lot about the brand. Sometimes the brand is even bigger than a campaign. We've had sequels or "threequels" that didn't have stars attached to them and became huge hits.

Innovation is key here at MediaVest, and we're really at the forefront of it, so it's important for us to create as tight a connection for consumers as possible through entertainment content.