One of the topics of discussion at the Critics Choice Awards last night was who would get the open Disney marketing job. Having given the post to movie business outsider M.T. Carney 19 months ago–which rarely works, unless it’s television–Disney Studio chairman Rich Ross was expected to go inside this time.
And so he has, but from an unexpected quarter. I always thought that Ricky Strauss had one of those rare unpressured creative jobs everyone envies, working as billionaire Jeff Skoll’s president at Participant Media (“”An Inconvenient Truth,” The Kite Runner,” “The Visitor,” and “Contagion”). Well, he’s ready to move back into the Big Studio Show (with a payday to match) and return to his marketing roots. He’s taking over the marketing reins as Walt Disney Studios’ president of worldwide marketing.
Carney gave her resignation under fire, some speculated, from Steven Spielberg’s displeasure with Disney’s marketing of DreamWorks’ “War Horse.” Strauss had worked on “The Help,” which went much better. He’ll step in just as the studio can’t afford to botch some upcoming tentpole titles, from DreamWorks (Spielberg’s “Lincoln”), Pixar (“Brave”) and Marvel (“The Avengers”) to the studio’s own $250 million “John Carter.”
“I am happy to welcome Ricky Strauss to The Walt Disney Studios family,” said Ross. “With 25 years of industry experience, he brings a deep understanding of all aspects of the film business as well as incredible skill in branding and cutting-edge marketing. He will undoubtedly raise the Studios’ creative bar as we enter 2012 and look ahead at showcasing a spectacular slate of films to audiences around the world.”
Prior to joining Participant in 2005, Strauss founded Sony-based Ricochet Entertainment, where he executive-produced “The Sweetest Thing,” starring Cameron Diaz. He also spent 16 years at Sony, where he served as a senior marketing executive (Columbia/TriStar Pictures) and later as senior v-p of production.