“At this point in our progress, my priority is our marketing effort, specifically taking it in a new direction,” Lee wrote in a memo to staffers. “Effective immediately, and for the foreseeable future, I will take a more active role in overseeing the strategic direction of the group.”
Timing of the news — just a week before the fall launch — took the industry by surprise, but observers speculated that Lee — who helped rebrand ABC Family, and before that, launched BBC America in the U.S. — saw the area as the most in need of a boost.
“It’s shocking that this moment in time they would jettison someone so senior,” one rival said.
Marketing shakeup comes as rivals confirmed that awareness and intent-to-view tracking on ABC’s new shows is lower than the other nets. Some of that can be blamed on the sheer number of new series that the Alphabet is launching this fall.
“They’re having some tough sledding, but they’ve got quite a bit of product,” one exec said.
But ABC has also taken knocks for the campaigns behind its two series priorities, “No Ordinary Family” and “My Generation.”