ABC shuffle strives for promo mojo

Benson and Provencio to top net's market team

ABC has shaken up its marketing team, naming longtime staffers Mike Benson and Marla Provencio to head the department.

Out in the shift are Geoff Calnan and Paul Wang, who had been recruited to the network last fall by former ABC marketing topper Steve Sohmer. Calnan and Wang had been expected to depart ever since Sohmer abruptly left the Alphabet web in March after just seven months on the job.

In the meantime, Calnan, Wang and Benson have handled various duties within the department, but the beleaguered web has had no permanent topper in marketing, advertising or promotion topper since. That had put ABC at a disadvantage when the network probably needed a strong marketing presence the most.

Benson and Provencio firmly take control of the Alphabet’s marketing just in time to oversee the launch of the network’s new fall schedule. That includes creating campaigns to promote the return of ABC’s “TGIF” comedy franchise and the move of “Wonderful World of Disney” and “L.A. Dragnet” to Saturday nights.

The executive shuffle is a vindication of sorts for Benson, who ran the marketing department on an interim basis after former department chief Alan Cohen left ABC in January 2002.

But rather than give Benson the gig full time, the net recruited CBS and NBC vet Sohmer to take over the top marketing job last August.

Benson has most recently served as senior vice president of marketing, advertising and promotion at ABC Entertainment, which he joined in June 1998. Provencio, who’s currently vice president focusing on drama promos, has worked in virtually every aspect of the promotion department since joining the network in November 1980. It’s unclear whether both will get new titles or be named co-senior VPs.

ABC Entertainment TV Group chairman Lloyd Braun is still hammering out the specifics of how Benson and Provencio will divide duties, with one perhaps overseeing creative and the other running marketing projects and strategy.

Benson’s other credits include serving as senior VP of promotion and program planning at VH1, and working as director of communications at KCBS, Los Angeles. Provencio has won multiple Promax awards in her 23 years at ABC.

ABC’s marketing department has seen a number of execs quickly enter and exit in recent years. Besides Sohmer, Chris Moseley spent just six months at the Alphabet web in 1999.

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