PlayStation’s Mary Yee, Fox’s Megan Wahtera & More: Brands as Culture Leaders Across America

Variety media analyst and correspondent Heidi Chung led a panel of brand execs to discuss the cultural significance of brands in today’s culture for the Variety Entertainment Summit, in partnership with CES 2021.

The speakers consisted of Mary Yee, VP of marketing at PlayStation; Erik Jensen, VP of brand engagement at Denny’s; Stacy Doren, VP of marketing at Levi’s; and Megan Wahtera, SVP of content marketing and media at Fox Entertainment.

Yee got things started by going over the launch of her company’s new videogame console.

“We launched PlayStation 5 this year, and this was a massive undertaking for the organization,” she explained. “It was a chance to celebrate the beginning of a new generation of gaming, given how massive gaming has become in entertainment.”

“But we also wanted this to be a massive moment in broader culture, reminding the world what an iconic brand PlayStation is,” she continued.

As difficult as any new launch is, 2020 came with the twist of a global pandemic.

“Our plans got thrown out the window,” commented Wahtera as he explained what the global crisis was like from Fox’s perspective. “The first step in it all was to realize that’s okay. We realized, very quickly, that the audience was a moving target, and they were less scheduled, less predictable than even network television with scheduled programming.”

“So, we did look to social media to see trends, and we were seeing that, obviously, things were more short-lived, people’s attention spans and signals were just pointing all at disruption,” she followed. “Even though we did lean into digitally heavily because it’s what people had at their disposal more readily than…traditional advertising models…our whole media plan and media mix changed pretty dramatically.”