Media Headliner: Can 'Mrs Kids' integrate Disney's sales offering?

By Maisie McCabe, campaignlive.co.uk, Thursday, 14 April 2011 12:01AM

Bobi Carley is leading Disney's new set-up but will she pull off Muppet-themed days in car showrooms?

It's the day after Mickey Mouse popped into a central London hotel to help Disney unveil its new integrated sales offering and though its new commercial director, Bobi Carley, has the day off, she has ventured into the office to talk to Campaign.

The glamorous mother briefly has her youngest daughter with her but, after prising her away from yet another Mickey Mouse, this time in Disney's reception, and handing her over to dad, Carley is ready to talk.

The new integrated sell from The Walt Disney Company is the brainchild of Diego Lerner, who took on the role of president of Europe, the Middle East and Africa, in addition to his position as president of Latin America, in March 2009.

Since he took charge, Lerner has restructured the business so that Disney divisions now report geographically, rather than to their respective businesses in the US, and this has allowed the company to establish a fully integrated UK ad sales and promotions operation, Disneymedia+.

Disney's five main business segments are studio entertainment, media networks, consumer products, interactive media group, and parks and resorts. Previously, brands and agencies wanting to work with more than one division in the UK needed to have separate conversations.

Carley moved to Disney last summer following meetings with Peter Fitton, Disney's senior vicepresident and general manager of ad sales and promotions for the UK and EMEA. She joined from Sky Media, where she had worked on a project basis, after her previous employer, Viacom, moved its TV ad sales into Sky.

Working alongside Charlie Coleman, Disney's general manager of promotions, Carley has established a 12-strong sales force that is set to grow further. When recruiting, Carley says she was looking for people with "broad experience", not TV sales people, because Disneymedia+ is about "far more than selling just the media platforms". "It's now selling all of Disney," Carley says. "In the past, you would have talked to the TV group, the studio, the media group. Now there is a single point of contact for every communication. There is one route to any solution."

This cross-media ad sales team is structured into three groups, each responsible for a group of media agencies. "The idea is that our sales people will have close relationships with agencies and understand their business," Carley explains.

For instance, a car brand could partner with the new Muppets movie, due for release in the UK in early 2012, Carley suggests. Muppet-themed days in showrooms could be paired with content on the brand's website, sponsorship of the Muppets TV show on the Disney Channel and branding on the film's marketing and advertising copy.

"It's the flexibility of it," Carley says. "It's not a set package, which doesn't necessarily fit your objectives. It's working to get as much value for the clients as possible."

In addition to the newly formed sales team, Carley has created an online planning tool, Disney-media+ Solutions, which allows agencies and marketers to access media and promotional opportunities that fit their objectives.

The goal of Disneymedia+ is to offer tailored solutions to long-term clients. Though Disney is hardly the first in bringing this to market, its film and other assets are more attractive than many. Last year, a modest five-figure digital brief developed into a major partnership between HP and the film Tron, which was extended to include the film's cinema release.

Media agencies attending the launch were impressed. Tracy De Groose, the managing director of Carat, which has Disney as a client, says: "Disney is brilliantly placed to make the most of the new way. Clients want real cut-through and we have a number of key clients for whom this will make sense."

Working with brands across channels is something Carley is used to. At Viacom Brand Solutions, she was the head of kids and families before the sales operation was closed at the end of 2009.

"She gets it," Chris Locke, the group trading director at Starcom MediaVest Group, says.

Well known and liked at media agencies, Carley is, according to one source, one of the few women to join the men on the golf course. "And she's welcome," he adds. Carley retains the respect of those she encounters while "knowing how to deal with the boys".

Nick Bampton, the former managing director of VBS and the current sales director at Channel 5, is also a big fan. "In my view, she is 'Mrs Kids'," Bampton says. "She's probably got more knowledge in the market than anyone else. She's a really good operator and she's extremely popular with people. She's going to be a big asset to Disney."

Carley says the key selling point of Disney is the "trust" parents have in the brand. Disney has been able to develop commercially without threatening that trust by having strict guidelines governing what brands it will work with. And it's a policy that has worked for many years. For instance, the marketing links between Disney and CocaCola go back 50 years.

The success of Disneymedia+ will lie in Carley and her team being able to help brands to capitalise on that trust and prove the return their tailored solutions can offer. With the might of Mickey Mouse behind them, and Carley leading the charge, this is one integrated sales offer that might just live up to the hype.

THE LOWDOWN
Age: 38
Lives: Muswell Hill, North London
Family: Husband James, Mia (seven), Meggie (five), Bodie (two), cats
Larry and Alf, and hamsters Donal and Mickey
Interests outside work: Anything vintage, and fun with friends and
family
Favourite media: LoveFilm, The Week, Elle Decoration
Last book read: The Green Sprout (to my children) and One Day
Favourite Disney character: Captain Jack Sparrow
Couldn't live without: A very supportive husband
Motto: Smile, it's contagious

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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