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James Pitaro to Lead Disney’s Consumer Products/Interactive as Leslie Ferraro Exits Company

UPDATED: James Pitaro has been promoted to chairman of Disney’s newly combined consumer products and interactive media division, as the group’s previous co-leader, Leslie Ferraro, leaves the company.

Pitaro moves up from his position as co-chair of consumer products and interactive media and president of the interactive operation, according to an announcement from the company’s chief operating officer, Tom Staggs.

The move supplants Ferraro, who had been co-chair of the division and whose promotion last year had been touted as making her one of the highest-ranking women in the history of the entertainment conglomerate. Disney said she is exiting “to pursue marketing and consumer engagement projects, with Disney as her first client.”

Ferraro had worked more than 20 years in consumer marketing, 17 of them with Disney, with much of her work focused on the company’s theme parks. The consumer products/interactive operation she co-led with Pitaro since last May centered on Disney’s myriad licensing agreements with other companies for an array of products.

An individual close to the company said Ferraro preferred to return to a role that was more creative and consumer-facing, as opposed to the business and deal-centric position she held as co-chair of the unit.

Staggs praised Pitaro for his “strong and successful leadership” and said he brought to his expanded role “his keen eye for technological innovation and deep familiarity with the brands and franchises that continue to drive the segment’s growth.” The Disney COO also thanked Ferraro for “creating many of our parks and resorts’ most successful marketing strategies and iconic campaigns.”

Ferraro also lent her imprimatur to the change, saying that the new consumer products and interactive boss “will continue to lead the team to new levels of success.”

In his role at Disney Interactive, Pitaro led the company’s multiplatform games business, and oversaw websites and apps that serve as the online and mobile gateways to Disney and its brands. He also led social-media efforts across all platforms and spearheaded digital video projects that extend Disney storylines. Prior to joining Disney Interactive in 2010, Pitaro served as vice president of Yahoo Media, where he was responsible for guiding the strategic growth and continued development of Yahoo’s media properties.

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