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Disney closes in on new marketing chief: MT Carney

April 20, 2010 |  6:59 pm

After a five-month search, Walt Disney Studios has finally zeroed in on a new marketing chief: MT Carney, the Scottish-born founding partner of Naked Communications, a communications strategy and planning firm known for promoting brands without spending heavily on traditional advertising.

The move is in line with Disney Studios Chairman Rich Ross' desire to go outside the usual movie marketing circles as he looks to reposition the studio for the digital future. His boss, Walt Disney Co. Chief Executive Bob Iger, believes the studio has been out of sync with a rapidly evolving film business and has wanted to shake up the status quo with regards to promoting movies to consumers.

Carney, who is expected to relocate from her base in New York, has been introduced to Steven Spielberg and Stacey Snider, whose production company DreamWorks has a distribution deal with Disney, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

In her new studio job, Carney would oversee the marketing of Disney's movie releases across all platforms including theatrical, DVDs, digital and pay TV.

Carney did not respond to phone calls or e-mails this week. Disney officials declined to comment.

According to Carney's biography, she was worldwide planning director at Ogilvy & Mather before joining Naked Communications.

Ross had hired an executive search firm to scour some big ad agencies and other New York brand-marketing outfits, seeking candidates who were savvy about harnessing social networking and emerging technologies to promote products.

Disney has been functioning without a marketing chief since last fall. To fill the void, Ross formed a five-person marketing council to oversee the studio's campaigns, among them Tim Burton's 3-D blockbuster "Alice In Wonderland," which has grossed $784 million worldwide since its release in early March.

With the likely addition of Carney, Ross will have completed the process of assembling his own executive team after taking the studio's reins last fall. Since then, the former Disney Channel chief has moved aggressively to restructure operations, replacing a number of veteran division heads with his own executives despite their lack of experience in particular disciplines. In November, Ross promoted former home entertainment president Bob Chapek to oversee all distribution, and earlier this year hired producer Sean Baily as head of production. Ross was expected to announce his new marketing head Thursday at a planned meet and greet with the entertainment press.

-- Claudia Eller, Dawn C. Chmielewski and Meg James