Ex-Disney exec named sr. VP; AnimalHouse.com sold

Universal Studios has tapped former Disney online exec Kenton Low to the new position of senior veep of corporate marketing and Universal Studios Online. Low will oversee all of U’s online efforts, including developing e-commerce initiatives.

Prior to his appointment, Eileen Vessella ran the operation as veep of Universal Studios Online. She will work with Low on the division’s projects.

Low will also oversee development of global corporate strategic marketing programs, including brand management, leveraging U’s franchises and expanding the company’s corporate partnerships program.

Low will report to Hellene Runtagh, executive VP, Universal Studios, who oversees the consumer products and online divisions, among others.

“This key position advances our corporate priority of building the Universal brand globally and increasing the franchise potential of our properties,” Runtagh said. “Kenton’s Internet experience will be invaluable in expanding Universal’s online presence, which is essential to broadening our consumer reach in the global marketplace.”

Low only last week ankled his position as veep, synergy of Buena Vista Internet Group, where he oversaw efforts to cross-promote Disney’s Internet businesses, including the Go Network, Disney.com, ABC.com and ESPN.com. He becomes the second online exec to leave Disney in weeks, following chairman Jake Winebaum, who ankled his position to form Internet venture eCompanies.

Low joined Disney in 1995 as veep, marketing and consumer sales for the education division at Disney Interactive.

Universal Studios Online was formed two years ago and merged with U’s corporate marketing division six months ago, after coming under U’s new media group.

Of all the major studios, U has been slow to venture heavily into the Internet arena. But Low’s appointment is expected to signal U’s shift into expanding its online efforts.

In an unusual move, however, the company last month sold its popular Web site AnimalHouse.com, which attracted over 1 million college-age users, to Hyundai Information Technology Co. for about $4 million.

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