The Television Academy has tapped DreamWorks Animation alum Susan Spencer to oversee marketing and PR as the org prepares for a burst of activity surrounding the construction of a media center on its North Hollywood campus, among other initiatives.
As senior VP of media and brand management, Spencer will be tasked with burnishing the TV Academy’s image as it counts down to its 70th anniversary. The Acad this year will also mount a campaign to educate voters as it expands electronic voting for the Primetime Emmy Awards.
Spencer reports to TV Academy president-COO Maury McIntyre.
“Susan has a proven track record as one of the entertainment world’s most effective marketers,” said McIntyre. “The Academy is at the forefront of a remarkable moment of innovation for the industry and Susan will play a key leadership role in this transformation.”
Spencer was most recently head of national promotions and marketing services for DreamWorks Animation where she launched strategic global marketing campaigns based on “Shrek,” “Kung Fu Panda,” “How To Train Your Dragon,” “Madagascar” and “The Croods.” She has also held senior leadership positions with Fox Consumer Products and Universal Studios Hollywood.
“This role presented some fantastic opportunities to get in television when it’s just exploding, when cross-platform content is on the rise,” Spencer told Variety. She’s looking forward to learning more about the television business, given her background in film. “There is more diverse content being made available across different platforms. There’s more for people to watch, and more for us to honor,” she said.
Spencer’s first mission will be outreach to the TV Academy’s communities and peer groups, with the questions, “What are the opportunities and challenges you see for the organization?” and “Where might there be opportunities for us to add value?”
Her goal is to position the academy as a thought leader, and every to-do item on her agenda will work toward that purpose, from overseeing the expansion of online Emmy voting to increasing corporate sponsorship to managing the building of the state-of-the-art media center, which she can see from her window. (“So far, it’s mud and a bunch of girders, but it looks pretty fantastic!” she said.)
Diversity is a priority high on her list. “I’m looking at ways that we can diversify the membership,” she says. “The programming that’s being offered by our partners is representative (of diversity), so we’re hoping that we can look deeper and broader and provide opportunity to expand that membership.” She points to an upcoming panel — Jan. 28’s “Evening with Norman Lear,” which looks at his influence on hip hop artists — as emblematic of the type of events she plans to develop.
The Emmy Awards are already “on my radar,” she said. Discussions are already underway with broadcast partner Fox for this fall’s awards ceremony. “We’re working on some things, trying to confirm producers and hosts.”
Given the wealth of shows led by diverse casts on TV, she doesn’t foresee a lack of diversity among Emmy nominations, similar to this year’s Oscar contenders. “We hope that our efforts in that world of diversification would reflect what’s on the air and would bring in new products for review and consideration and would open that world,” she said.
The biggest challenge for the TV Academy is “keeping current with what’s trending in the industry,” she said. “We need to make sure we’re on point on an ongoing basis.”