Fox Zeros In on Executive

Aug 8, 2004  •  Post A Comment

FX marketing executive Chris Carlisle is nearing a deal with Fox Broadcasting Co. to become its new senior marketing executive, executives at Fox said. Mr. Carlisle would replace recently departed Roberta Mell, who was executive VP of marketing.

Mr. Carlisle has been involved with the launches of such successful shows as “The Shield” and “Nip/Tuck.” Most recently he launched “Rescue Me,” which has averaged 2.2 million adults 18 to 49 per episode since its July debut, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Mr. Carlisle has been at FX since 1999, for the past two years as executive VP of marketing. Previously he was Warner Bros.’ senior VP of worldwide creative advertising for theatrical features and before that he was VP of marketing for ABC Entertainment. Mr. Carlisle also wrote and produced the series finale of “Home Improvement.”

A Fox spokesman and an FX spokesman had no comment.

A replacement for Ms. Mell would come after a somewhat tumultuous time for Fox. While she presided over the launch of such shows as “American Idol” and “The O.C.,” many Fox executives report an ongoing internal struggle in the marketing department. During her two years on the job, as many as 12 marketing executives departed Fox-an usually high turnover, according to one executive close the company. The Fox spokesman had no comment.

Ms. Mell was brought in from HBO in June 2002 under Sandy Grushow, then chairman of Fox Entertainment and Fox Broadcasting. Mr. Grushow has been known for his hands-on approach to marketing, even writing many print and radio ads, according to executives.

Fox went for nearly a year and a half without a head of marketing before Ms. Mell was hired in 2002. Former Sony Pictures marketing executive Senn Moses held the job for a short period in 2000.

This summer Ms. Mell presided over a massive marketing push for six new Fox shows as part of the network’s effort to offer year-round fresh programming to viewers.

The effort included third-party deals with consumer product companies to help promote the shows: Burger King, which featured in-store signage for “The Simple Life 2”; MGM’s summer movie “Soul Plane,” part of a promotion in which theater patrons received DVD samplers of “Method & Red” during the film’s premiere weekend; and TV Guide, which ran an eight-page insert promoting “The Casino.”

All Fox’s new shows were slow to grab ratings this summer, with the exception of “Trading Spouses,” which has scored big numbers in adults 18 to 49.

In late July Ms. Mell reportedly said she would leave the network to pursue other nonbroadcast marketing efforts. A Fox spokesman had no comment about her departure.