The Player: Graffeo in right spot to lead Universal's home video unit

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The DVD business is one of the few entertainment-marketing executives can cheer about. Double-digit sales growth and increased marketing dollars have all led to home entertainment marketing executives becoming more consumer-oriented-as opposed to the steady, but non-sexy, videotape-rental business. Which makes this is a perfect time for Ken Graffeo, 45, the newly appointed exec VP-marketing for Vivendi Universal's Universal Studios Home Video.

"A lot of [my previous experience] has really helped me, especially now that we are in a sell-through business, which is marketed to consumers," he says. "Sell-through" refers to sales of home video, not rentals, which have dominated much of the home entertainment market for years.

"The new technology of DVD is not just a format-it's its own entertainment," Mr. Graffeo said. "Only a fraction of the content on DVDs is actually the movie itself."

Mr. Graffeo, with Universal for three years, most recently as senior VP-home video marketing, previously worked at Coca-Cola Co. in brand management. Other positions include marketing posts for Omnicom Group's BBDO Worldwide working on Pepsi Cola USA, Kraft General Foods and Campbell Soup Co.

basic skills

"A lot of these basic skills have been very beneficial," he said. "Taking entertainment and putting it into a packaged goods format and selling it to the consumer through retail distribution has really been a plus for me."

Peter Graves, president of theatrical-marketing consultancy Cinemarket, calls Mr. Graffeo "the right man in the right spot." The two worked together several years ago at Polygram Filmed Entertainment, where Mr. Graffeo was senior VP-marketing.

The home-entertainment market generates some $20 billion a year. Marketing costs for a typical video/DVD release can range from $500,000 to $3 million to advertise, a fraction of the average $22 million spent for the average wide-release theatrical movie. But now it appears the budgets could rise. Universal spent some $70 million in TV last year on home video-a significant increase from the year before, Mr. Graffeo said.

"DVD offers so much more space for promotional partners," said Mitch Litvak, president of The L.A. Office, a Los Angeles-based entertainment marketing company. "It's a great opportunity to reinvent marketing campaigns and a great opportunity for marketing executives."

Previously, studio marketing was limited to supporting advertising efforts of video retailers such as Blockbuster Video. Now, studios have widened their distribution networks to general business retail outlets, such as Wal-Mart, Target and others.

"Our goal is to reach target consumers and make them buy this right away," Mr. Graffeo said. "Just like theatrical, we have to open the home video. We have to sell it in two weeks. After that a Wal-Mart will pull down the marketing materials. We have to say, `Go out and buy it next Tuesday."'

Fast Facts

Name: Ken Graffeo

Age: 45

Now: Exec VP-marketing for Vivendi Universal's Universal Studios Home Video

Challenge: Shouting above the din of ever more home video and DVD releases

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