WarnerMedia spent 2021 crafting a marketing multiverse around its iconic intellectual property, from extensive “Rick and Morty” tie-ins to deploying its DC superheroes to enact change.
“It’s been an incredible year in so many ways in terms of challenges, but also in terms of opportunities,” said Ann Sarnoff, chair and CEO of WarnerMedia Studios and Networks Group, who was appointed to the chief role in August 2020. “We really feel like we hit our stride in 2021.”
The company has been firing on all cylinders this year: reinvigorating its temporarily paused film business to net more than $2 billion at the box office to date; throwing weight behind its vast IP library to expand its campaign capabilities with a wide range of brands; and ramping up its presence in the digital video space to have one of the biggest successes of the so-called “streaming wars” to date.
“What you can see is that the entire company has been marshaled around growing HBO Max as a direct-to-consumer brand,” said Jean-Paul “JP” Colaco, WarnerMedia president of advertising sales.
That DTC growth has the potential to kick into higher gear when cable and streaming giant Discovery completes its $43 billion acquisition of WarnerMedia, expected by mid-2022.
While HBO Max started as a subscriber-supported platform when it debuted in the second quarter of 2020, advertisers were able to start buying commercial time on the service earlier this year.