On Tuesday, the Variety Entertainment Marketing Visionaries Award, presented by Spotify Advertising, went to Sony Motion Pictures Group president Josh Greenstein; HBO and HBO Max’s executive vice president of brand and content marketing Zach Enterlin; HBO Max’s executive vice president of originals marketing Pia Chaozon Barlow; and Disney Studios Content’s president of marketing Asad Ayaz.

“I want to call out the people that are being honored here tonight. You make it look so easy,” said Ann Piper, head of client partnerships on the U.S. vertical team at Spotify. “We know so much hard work goes on behind the scenes. All the things that you have to do without everybody knowing it. And I thank you for that.”

“The other thing I want to celebrate is the work that we do with all of you in this room, from breakthrough ideas to just hard-working media,” Piper continued. We’re really excited to partner and partner with you from 3D audio, to video headliners, to custom playlists, to talking to you about your latest podcast. Your collaboration and partnership is why we wake up every day and why we’re excited to be in this business.”

In his acceptance speech, Greenstein expressed his gratitude for Sony’s marketing team, which spans globally.

“That’s really who should be on this stage. We have a huge team of people all over the world, marketing movies, and they do a tremendous job. It’s been an unbelievable year for us. A year that put a spotlight on resilience and resolve. I always quote that tough times don’t last. Tough people do. And no time in our industry has proven that more than the last couple of years. We continue to have absolute faith in theatrical strategy that led us [here]. We will continue to show up for theatrical. We’re very happy on the superhero stuff, but we’ve got a lot more. For ages, whenever a new platform or medium entered the market, people would talk about the death of theatrical. It’s been declared for the last 70 years. But we feel we’ve seen, especially over the last year, that’s absolutely not the case.”

Enterlin and Barlow concurred, thanking their teams at HBO and HBO Max, as well as the fans who support their content.

Left to right: Zach Enterlin, executive vice president of marketing at HBO Max and HBO and Pia Chaozon Barlow, HBO Max’s executive vice president of originals marketing Getty Images

“As Josh said, it was quite a year in 2021, which presented all of us with new challenges personally and professionally. We pivoted, and we pivoted some more. But at the same time, as digital and data-driven insights continue to lead the evolution of our approach — a special blend of art and science — our focus never wavers. Our fans remain the center of everything we do. We continue to meet them where they are, building connections, fandoms and ultimately, advocates for our programming brand,” said Enterlin.

“When I hear what you just described, Zach, I think about the tremendous work not just that we’ve done, but everyone in this room across the entire industry,” added Barlow. “It’s hard not to feel super humbled and lucky. I feel very lucky to be part of a company that values creativity and innovation, not just in the groundbreaking and culture-defining and inclusive and diverse stories that we tell, but also in the marketing that we do. And most importantly, I just want to say I’m so incredibly humbled and lucky to work with such an amazing group of talented people every single day.”

Ayaz closed out the night by speaking on the power the entertainment industry has to help people through tragedy.

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Asad Ayaz Getty Images for Variety

“We went from being a theatrical marketing team to working on a lot of streaming content. We work across six different studios and get to work on some really remarkable content with some of the best storytellers and creatives in the industry,” he said. “And I’m so proud of our team and our resilience, and how we’ve evolved into doing episodic marketing and streaming, and theatrical is coming back in a big way. Thank you to my team for being there — and for being here tonight.”

“Our industry is in the midst of a ton of change. Marketing is more challenging and more complex than ever before, and we also live in a time where the news cycle is really tough and dark at times. Today is an example of that,” Ayaz continued, referring to Tuesday’s school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. “And we get to bring joy into people’s lives with the work that we do as entertainment marketers. It makes me very proud to be a part of this group.”