Gregorian’s Marketing Chants

Warner Bros. TV exec VP/CMO approaches craft from the leading edge
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Marketing today is much more complex than when Lisa Gregorian began her career. “When we were marketing a program in the early days, we only had one broad message to push out,” she says of industry life in the early 1990s. “Today, it’s a dialogue with the fans, and there are multiple versions of the same message. Even when a show is off the air, we are responsible for keeping the conversations about it alive.”

Gregorian recently added the title of chief marketing officer to her resume, confirming her oversight of all marketing, promotional and publicity efforts of Warner Bros.’ worldwide television team. This includes shows that Warner Bros. sells to U.S. broadcast and cable networks, animated programs and first-run syndicated shows. It also covers broadband programs, projects and Websites; the latter includes TheWB.com, which features full episodes of Warner Bros.-produced shows such as Friends and Gilmore Girls, and The CW’s Website, Cwtv.com.

Today, marketing involves far more than creating on-air promos, designing a few billboards and running some ads in popular magazines. TV fans consume content everywhere, and are constantly talking about what they watch via Facebook, Twitter and other social networking FifthEstater: Lisa Gregorian sites. Keeping up with them is a 24/7 job, according to Gregorian.

“The challenge is that taste is constantly changing,” she says. “Young people change their minds quickly, and they are so much more savvy about what they consume. Feeding this fan base is the challenge, but it’s an amazing one.”

So, Gregorian and her team try to cover all the angles, whether that means reaching them on Twitter or meeting with them directly at the annual Comic-Con convention in San Diego. “Comic-Con is a fantastic experience for us because we are engaged for days in fandom,” she says. “It’s really the payoff for us, because we see the close attention that people are paying. It’s almost overwhelming how much the fans can really embrace the project.”

This year, Gregorian and her team took the cast of The CW’s hot new show, Vampire Diaries, on a four-city meet-and-greet tour to get up close and personal with fans. Other new ideas emerge on an almost daily basis.

Staying in front of new technology is tricky, but Gregorian says marketing is leading the way in the industry. “Marketing is ahead of the business model and ahead of research” when it comes to figuring out how to monetize all of these new platforms, she explains. “But we are seeing a change in the business model; The CW, for example, is bundling online viewing with network viewing in its upfront ad sales. Eventually, everything will catch up.”

Gregorian has spent years honing her craft and getting to the point where managing multiple multimedia campaigns is an exciting—if familiar—challenge. She began her association with Warner Bros. when she joined Lorimar Telepictures in 1986, which was later acquired by the studio. Over the years, she has become expert at smoothly integrating top brands into popular shows, and creating digital platforms and extensions of programs to keep fans fully immersed.

Gregorian was named senior VP of marketing for Warner Bros. International Television Distribution in 1998. In 2003, she became senior VP of Warner Bros. Television Creative Services. Five years ago, she was named executive VP of worldwide marketing for the Warner Bros. Television Group. She added the CMO title last month. Gregorian was also just named co-chair of PromaxBDA, the industry’s marketing association, along with Adam Stotsky, president of marketing at NBC Entertainment.

Over her 24 years with Warner Bros., Gregorian has earned the trust of the company’s top executives. “Lisa’s passion is what makes her so good at what she does,” says Bruce Rosenblum, president of Warner Bros. Television Group. “She constantly strives to raise the bar of creativity and effectiveness. She knows the ins and outs of our business, and is always looking to do things in new ways. I am truly one of her biggest fans.”

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