NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Walt Disney Pictures is in the midst of a major makeover this year, having hired former Disney Channel President Rich Ross as its new chairman last fall. And what was at the top of Mr. Ross' to-do list? Hiring a brand-savvy new president of marketing, ideally from outside Hollywood, who could help the studio re-ignite its movie-franchise business. That new hire, after an exhaustive search that included veteran packaged-goods marketers and agency executives, was M.T. Carney, a founding partner of Naked Communications' U.S. outpost.
A longtime agency-based marketer for clients such as Coca-Cola, Johnson & Johnson and Nokia, Ms. Carney was something of a nontraditional choice for a studio such as Disney, which plans to release as many as 16 movies through 2011.
But to Mr. Ross, her diverse client-side expertise was what the studio needed. "She's great at working with teams big and small," he said. "When I met her she had incredible respect for the business and the marketing of a movie. She wasn't looking to create a revolution, just stage an evolution."
Ms. Carney made her mark at Naked by establishing the agency as a global strategy practice for major brands and corporations, providing clients with creative input and launch tactics that could take new products worldwide but without stepping on the creative or media agencies' toes. Now, instead of Coke and Nokia, she'll be working with filmmakers such as Jerry Bruckheimer and Tim Burton to carry out their visions globally.
That's why her personal background appealed to Mr. Ross, too. "She's Scottish, so you know that she's somebody that comes from another world," he said. "We're in a global business, so you need someone that knows how to create ideas that go all over the world."
Ms. Carney has inherited quite the workload, with a slate that includes upcoming tentpoles such as Pixar franchises "Toy Story," "Cars" and "Monsters Inc." as well as a fourth "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie next summer. That's not to mention Disney's recent $4 billion acquisition of Marvel Entertainment, which will eventually give the studio the distribution rights to future iterations of popular franchises such as "Spider-Man," "The Avengers" and "Iron Man."
But Ms. Carney won't be too far from Madison Avenue, as she'll be spearheading the relationships Disney forges with marketing and promotional partners as well -- another key goal of Mr. Ross.
"To think that she's someone who has an extreme amount of advertising and marketing experience seems like a no-brainer to me," he said. "She knows how to work with different corporations and different creatives under a common goal."
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