Senior VP of Marketing, Tennis Channel
By Stuart Miller -- Broadcasting & Cable, 6/4/2012 12:01:00 AM
In college, Miller studied French literature and linguistics. After some “dead-end jobs” in New York, she headed west, earning a more pragmatic master’s in business at UCLA. “That set me on fire—I realized I had a real passion for international marketing,” she says.
But Miller wasn’t pursuing a career in sports marketing. She began working for Max Factor and other high-end cosmetics companies. “Sports was nowhere on my radar,” she says.
In 1985 she shifted gears. She joined Disney, which was starting Buena Vista Home Video. “I jumped at the chance,” she says.
She loved her time there, but eventually she was ready for something new. “The job had certain limitations,” she says. “You can only market Pinocchio so many times—video, DVD, Blu-ray.”
Tennis Channel CEO Ken Solomon first recruited Miller for Fine Living Network—where she was able to draw on her lifestyle marketing experience from her cosmetic days—before bringing her over to Tennis Channel. The whole experience was freeing. “We have only about 100 people here, while at Disney there were no less than 20 people in any meeting,” Miller says. “I was 12 levels down from Michael Eisner; but here I report directly to Ken. I have a greater sense of ownership here, [and] we are much more agile here.”
She doesn’t even miss the “phenomenal” Disney budgets; Tennis Channel requires a staff volleying of a different sort.
“My hands are tied and I’m constantly asking my staff, ‘How much does this cost?’ And I have proposals that are burning a hole in my desk right now,” she says. But being forced to brainstorm “outside the box” is more rewarding she says, whether it’s partnering with French food trucks in major cities during the French Open, or negotiating deals to get the channel’s highlights and programs shown—at no cost— in places such as Best Buy, Costco, Burger King and airports. “It has compelled us to be more creative, and I love it.”
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