Audrey Marco, VP & General Manager Sony Pictures Digital
Entertainment, has been responsible for some of Hollywood's
biggest online promotions featuring partnerships with offline
marketers -- including last year's "Pepsi Stuff" campaign on
Yahoo, and the Dawson's Creek Web sites.
We asked her how brand marketers should be working with Hollywood
QUESTION: Who should be partnering with Hollywood online and what
are some of the best ways to make those partnerships happen?
MARCO: Anyone that wants to add sizzle to their campaign. Any
category that is trying to touch the consumer in a unique way
should be talking about an entertainment tie in, and I mean
anybody. It is all about what the concept and desired outcome is.
The beauty is there is such a wide array of properties there will
always be one that is in sync with the audience you are trying to
The best way [to establish such a partnership] is to have the
brand marketing or promotions people at the corporation call us
up. I know for a fact that we are aggressively targeting them as
well. It all starts with the call. Only when you start discussing
how brands fit together and what you are trying to accomplish
will you come up with a comprehensive plan. In this industry we
can craft something that works, but you should have a fundamental
knowledge of your goals.
QUESTION: What really makes these partnerships work and what
should be avoided?
MARCO: Revenue to their bottom line and ours is what works. It is
also the exciting union of partnership and brand integration and
unique ways to tie into entertainment through emerging
technologies and platforms. Press worthy initiatives also work as
well as the ability to reach the consumer in a way that will
affect their behavior to drive consumption of both partnersí
Cost prohibitive programs with undefined goals should be avoided.
Do not go in and spend a ton of money if you do not know what you
are trying to achieve. The onus is not all on [the marketer],
though I will say they do not always understand what they can
QUESTION: What is used to measure the success of such
MARCO: Consumption numbers, new interest, renewed interest, and
retention of that interest to consume the product. Any type of
marketing is to increase consumption of the product. For us, we
look at revenue and media that promotes our properties. We also
look at traffic and database acquisition.
QUESTION: What should marketers know about the cost of online
MARCO: Know that costs are scalable, from barter through million
dollar deals. It really depends on the deal but always know it is
very scalable. Work far enough in advance to be able to create
and execute a program. Timing most important.
QUESTION: What are the most successful partnerships you have ever
MARCO: Our recent arrangement with Yahoo! Itís a multi-year,
multi-property, multi-division relationships that affords us the
ability to reach their massive audience in ways that are unique
The 'Pepsi Stuff' campaign was another. It was extremely
successful in the way they promoted it, the way that all partners
got behind it, the amount of registrations, the way that
consumers experienced it, revenue that resulted from promotional
efforts, and the media that drove awareness of our brand.
QUESTION: In the same arena, what has not worked and why?
MARCO: We have found that guaranteed cost per click does not
work. Cost per acquisition does not work either. Those types of
deals are not ones we will put a lot of effort behind. They can
be a component, but they canít be a driver. I only want to
partner with people who have an appreciation for a partnering of
QUESTION: Are there any negotiating points or expectations that
anyone new to online promotional partnering should be aware of
when they do their first deal?
MARCO: If you partner with a studio, have a good understanding of
what the marketing approach is from the online marketing world
and the studioís perspective. You can then evaluate if it fits
with what you are trying to accomplish.
Any good negotiator just tries to create a win-win situation, so
basically itís a matter of understanding the value of what they
have to bring to the table and what we [or the studio] can bring
in return. Understanding of each otherís brands is key.
There is always going to be give and take so just expect to be
open-minded and, of course, expect to get results.
QUESTION: What are some best practice tips for anyone looking to
promote entertainment brands online through online partnerships?
MARCO: Companies should target sites that reach their demographic
and work with those partners to develop interactive partners to
reach beyond just a flat experience. Offer a viral component.
Look for a partner that has earned trust and a direct connection
with their fan base.
QUESTION: Which practices have you engaged in that have taught
you the most about your target audience?
MARCO: I still feel best ways to learn about our target audience
is through community and communication. We also tap in through
surveys and polling, where we can. We do pop-up surveys on fan
sites and message boards. We learn the most when we engage them
in conversation and we really listen, like on the Dawsonís Creek
and most recently the
Spiderman site (http://spiderman.sonypictures.com)
For the right property offering new ways to consume entertainment
we have seen a higher adoption rate than anticipated. Again, if
the property has value to the end user, we have learned that the
consumer is very willing to dive in and explore.