“The Hunger Games” Nina Jacobson At PULSE Conference

UCLA Anderson brought top industry players to discuss issues and trends in media, sports and entertainment

“The Hunger Games” Nina Jacobson interviewed by Professor Sanjay Sood

Los Angeles, April 12th, 2013. The Center for Management of Enterprise in Media, Entertainment and Sports (MEMES) at UCLA Anderson School of Management hosted the 3rd Annual PULSE Conference. With the endeavor of examining the trends driving change in these rapidly evolving industries, which constantly transform to stay relevant, the conference brought together experts and leaders from top companies across the industry. Leading-edge enterprises must adapt quickly to keep pace with consumers’ habits, altered market forces and new technological advancements.

The opening keynote conversation was between Professor Sanjay Sood and Nina Jacobson, producer of “The Hunger Games” Trilogy. Nina spoke about her background as President of the Walt Disney Motion Picture Group, overseeing development and production of 20-25 movies a year. “Nobody thought Pirates of the Caribbean would work” Nina said “everyone thought pirates were curses, like dragons. Then we brought Jerry Bruckheimer and many other pieces together, but it could have gone either way until Johnny Depp created Jack Sparrow. Then we knew we had something special”.

Erica Marie Colon, NBCUniversal; Diane Nelson, Warner Bros’ DC Entertainment; Paul Santello, EVP Horizon Media; and Coe Lottis, The Program

Jacobson spoke on her dedication to chasing the things she love and how “blown away” she was of the box office record-breaking phenomena “The Hunger Games”, which has passed the $155 Million and set as the third-highest domestic debut of all time, reaching an estimated $691 Million worldwide so far. “The first premise in a movie is to get people to care about the story and the characters” Nina said. She had wise recommendations for those who are starting in entertainment: “Both have an opinion and be receptive to the ideas of others. Have resilient… failure is there all the time, there’s the ups and down of a very volatile business, but don’t loose your way when things don’t go your way, which is most of the time. Be trustworthy… respectful but honest.”

With such an abundance of social media tools and mobile applications, one of the challenges marketers have is identifying which tools and strategies work in helping their brands reach their targeted market. “Things move so quick, we push a product out as we sometimes only have a few weeks, then we watch social media, react to it and adjust our strategy” said Coe Lottis at the panel on breaking through the clutter, moderated by NBCUniversal’s Erica Marie Colon. Warner Bros DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson, talked about the highly engaged consumers they have and the need not to overreact to people’s extreme passion after producers make a character or editorial decision. She also talked about “We Can Be Heroes”, a corporate responsibility campaign that Warner Bros implemented last year.

Adriana Trautman, 20th Century Fox; Rodrigo Morales, VP Wasserman; and Phillip Button, SVP William Morris Endeavor

The rules of marketing have changed, in fact, there are no rules anymore. There used to be a set of strategies that would always work to market a specific type of product, but today what works in one campaign may not work in another. As Paul Santello, EVP of Horizon Media, puts it “There are so many new technologies that sometimes we feel compelled to use them. But just because it is a new technology, it doesn’t mean it is good for the client or the consumer. They all promise greater engagement, but research shows that people seating watching TV with their mobile devise, are doing something else, unrelated to what they’re watching”.

The panel on South America made clear the importance of this constantly growing market and the clear cultural differences. 20th Century Fox Adriana Trautman said “They want local movies well done, and because it’s local, if it doesn’t work, you cannot make it up in another market. Also you have to work with local regulations… the key is understanding that every country is totally different - we have offices in every country to build relations with media partners and every success builds upon the previous one.” In terms of sports the World Cup and the Olympics being awarded to Brazil are bringing attention towards this country. “Since this happened, more than 80 advertising companies have open office in Brazil” said Rodrigo Morales, VP Latin America for Wasserman, who highlighted the very competitive nature of the marketing space and how important sports are for the Latin community.

Mark Depew, Yahoo!; Barry Blumberg, Smoth TV;Jennifer Vescio, ESPN; and Dounia Turrill, The Nielsen Company

The monetization challenge in a cross-platform environment was topic for a panel moderated by Yahoo!’s Mark Depew. Analytics have not been made available yet to prove advertisers where they can better reach their audience and the volatility of the current environment is not making it easier to create measurement tools. “Younger audience think that TV is free because they don’t pay for the cable bill, so asking them to pay for premium internet content is not easy.” said Barry Blumberg, EVP Smosh TV, which is the most subscribed channel of all times with over 90 million unique viewers a month. He also mentioned that “Everything we say here is going to change within 3 months, as everything changes so fast in the industry now.” ESPN is selling their audience from all their platforms together to advertisers. “Our development team is working closely with technology companies to come up with solution and better experiences for our audience” said Jennifer Vescio, VP Business Development at ESPN.

The conference closed with an interview to David Rone, President of Sports, News and Local Programming at Time Warner Cable. They sell content across the networks and bring exclusive original content to 43 Time Warner channels. “We constantly try to differentiate ourselves from competitors offering content that is more local.” Rone said. Time Warner acquired the rights of the Lakers for 25 years, along with the LA Dodger and also created the first ever local 24/7 sports network in Spanish. “Sports has the most passionate followers among all the entertainment consumers, specially local sports. Other content can be relied upon DVR, but sports, people want it live.” Rone continued “We believe that TV everywhere is the model that works. TV providers should be able to stream content in all devices as consumers want to be able to get what they want, where they want it”.

Photo credit Hugh Hamilton
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David Rone, President of Sports, News and Local Programming at Time Warner Cable

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