"ABC marketing co-chief Mike Benson is out after 12 years at the network," Variety reports, adding, "Benson’s exit comes as new ABC Entertainment prexy Paul Lee looks to make his first mark at the network."
Benson has been running ABC marketing with Marla Provencio, who is staying in place.
Benson and Provencio had both been executive vice presidents of marketing for the ABC Entertainment Group.
Benson has been particularly well-known in the industry because for several years, up until earlier this year, he had also served as chairman of PromaxBDA.
According to Variety, "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."
The article goes on to say that ABC has been criticized for its campaigns for two upcoming series, "No Ordinary Family" and "My Generation."
However, the article also says Benson "is well-respected in the marketing world and has earned high marks over the years for ABC’s campaigns behind shows like "Desperate Housewives," "Dancing with the Stars," "Lost" and last season’s "Modern Family."
The article also quotes an ABC spokesperson saying that "Benson would stick around for a transition period through the immediate fall launch period."
Among many accolades Benson has received over the years are an Emmy in 2009, two Campaigns of Distinction awards from TVWeek, in 2004 and 2007, an Entertainment Marketer of the Year in 2005, 2007 and 2008 by Advertising Age and, in 2000, by Brandweek magazine.