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On a digital fast track

Jul 15, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Annie Morita has mapped a cyber route to international television marketing.
As senior VP of sales and marketing at Columbia TriStar International Television, Ms. Morita has among her claims to fame the establishment of Sony’s first business-to-business Web site to deliver digital marketing materials worldwide instantaneously.
CTIT.com saves the company an estimated $1 million a year, since mailing marketing materials costs more than $25 a set. And it solidifies deals, since new clients have everything they need right away. But when Ms. Morita broached the idea three years ago, people weren’t convinced it would work.
She recalls, “We had clients around the world that bought a show and then were spending their own money to digitize the advertising materials. We pointed out to our salespeople that we could save their clients that money and deliver already digitized material that the clients were much more likely to use. Plus, the marketing materials could be in a client’s hands within minutes after the deal closed.”
Sony adopted the idea and even sent its webmaster on a worldwide tour to explain to customers how it worked. By the end of this year, Ms. Morita says, all the company’s marketing materials, going back as far as 1980, will be digitized and available for download.
“Annie has transformed what is traditionally a cost center into a revenue generator, positively impacting our ability to sell our programming, but more importantly, engaging our broadcast partners in our worldwide promotional efforts,” said Ross Pollack, senior VP of sales planning at Columbia TriStar International Television.
Ms. Morita is 33 and calls herself an “early adopter.” She is clearly a veteran at fast-tracking new ideas. Formerly a reporter for CNN, she switched to the advertising side for Turner Broadcasting System because she wanted to work outside the continental United States and it looked as though she would get there faster if she were on the ad side instead of the news side. A reporter can wait years to be anointed a foreign correspondent. But shortly after Ms. Morita switched departments, Turner sent her to Hong Kong, where she was involved with the network launch of TNT and Cartoon Network Pacific.
She joined Warner Bros. in 1995, when she was 27, as director of marketing for its international channels and developed the global marketing and advertising strategy for WBTV, The Warner Channel, Time Warner’s first cable network.
In 1998, Ms. Morita made the leap to CTIT, where she has her plate full with international sales assignments. She’s responsible for promoting such shows as “The Shield,” “Dawson’s Creek,” “The Guardian,” and “Harold and The Purple Crayon” to clients in Europe, Asia and South America. She created and implemented marketing strategies for international channels, including the launches of Latin America/Brazil (TeleUno/AXN) and Europe (AXNSpain) and the global positioning of the Sony Entertainment Television AXN and ANIMAX brands.
She’s also charged with rolling out the studio’s big feature films, such as “Spider-Man,” “Stuart Little 2” and “Men In Black 2,” to international broadcasters such as RTL in Germany, the BBC in London and RAI in Italy.
And she takes on some selected special projects, including promoting a teen drama specially produced for the U.K. market and the company’s first local production for Spain.
All this worldwide marketing means Ms. Morita is an international frequent flier. She lives in Manhattan Beach, Calif., which is west of Los Angeles, with her husband and 3-month-old greater Swiss mountain dog named Gracie, but she spends at least half her time on the road, where she tends to her knitting.
Ms. Morita passes the time in the air making fruit-shaped baby hats-strawberries and raspberries-for all of her friends’ babies. They come complete with labels that read “Made Especially for You by Annie Morita.”