Naked co-founder takes reigns at Mouse House

Walt Disney Studios has tapped MT Carney as its new president of marketing.

Studio chairman Rich Ross had been looking to fill the top marketing post since Jim Gallagher ankled the post in November.

He’d been adamant about hiring a marketing maven from outside Hollywood and Carney certainly fits that bill. Carney, from Scottland, is the co-founder of British marketing shop Naked Communications, and opened the company’s New York City office in 2006, which made a big splash when it quickly landed 11 clients in eight months, including Johnson & Johnson, Coca-Cola, Kraft, Microsoft and Nokia.

At Disney, Carney will oversee all aspects of worldwide marketing and distribution, including all creative, media, online development, publicity, promotions and synergy for motion pictures released under the Walt Disney Pictures (including Walt Disney Animation and Pixar Animation) and Touchstone Pictures banners.

“MT represents a unique type of marketing executive , she has built global teams, can market a product across multiple platforms and has firsthand knowledge of new media and its effectiveness in reaching consumers,” Ross said in a statement. “Just as we have looked at ways to restructure how we create and distribute our movies, we also needed to hire someone like MT, who can lead our incredibly creative global marketing teams and ensure that our films reach audiences around the world.”

While Carney doesn’t have an extensive background in entertainment, Naked rebranded sports cable channel OLN as Versus. More recently, the firm was instrumental in retooling NBC’s on-air look last fall, launching its “more colorful” slogan. NBC hired Naked in early 2009 to reposition the brand.

“I would say that Naked is an incredibly innovative team and that MT is a very sharp strategist,” said Adam Stotsky, head of NBC Entertainment Marketing. “As content windows collapse and the tools to connect with consumers evolve, content marketers need to continually push the envelope. MT should help Disney evolve their marketing in this new landscape.”

Over the years, Carney has been vocal about identifying new ways to reach audiences and experimenting with the worlds of marketing and entertainment, rather than rely on traditional advertising.

“Clients know the model is broken, and they can’t keep going back to the same agencies who are using the same tools,” she once told Advertising Age. “It’s like how Einstein defined madness, doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

And that’s the type of exec Ross has spent months trying to find, sources at the studio said.

In fact, Disney had already been working closely with Carney on developing campaigns. She’d already been advising on several film launches.

Most of the campaigns for Disney’s upcoming films, including “Toy Story 3” and “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” have already rolled out, while efforts around “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” are starting to. Even December release, “Tron: Legacy” is already being heavily marketed by the studio. But Carney would be instrumental in shaping the look of the fourth “Pirates of the Caribbean” installment, which starts lensing this summer.

Before Naked, Carney was worldwide planning director at Ogilvy & Mather, New York, where she oversaw campaigns for such clients as American Express.

(Michael Schneider contributed to this report.)

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