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Making Products the Star at MediaVest

Oct 29, 2008  •  Post A Comment

After spending her whole career in the movies, Robin Seidner D’Elia is looking to make products the star of her new productions.
Ms. Seidner was senior VP for national television promotions and marketing at New Line Cinema when the studio was folded into Warner Bros. by parent Time Warner. Earlier this month, she joined MediaVest USA as senior VP, group director for connectivetissue, the agency’s branded entertainment unit.
“I never thought I would leave film and television, because it was something I was really passionate about and felt like it was in my blood,” Ms. Seidner D’Elia says. “But when I looked at these brands and the clients here at MediaVest, I thought, these are brands that I grew up with and they’re so iconic and there’s so much opportunity.”
Ms. Seidner D’Elia sees branded entertainment as a wide-open space.
“The nice thing is in the branded entertainment world there are really no rules,” she said.
After interviewing with top MediaVest execs about working there, “My mind was racing with ideas as to what I can do with this brand or that brand,” she said. “And I thought I must really be excited about this and maybe this does make sense for me.”
Ms. Seidner D’Elia grew up on New York’s Long Island in Hewlett and wanted to be an actress. She said her parents signed off on her trying to make a career of acting, but pushed her to go to college and get an education because they weren’t going to support her.
After studying television, radio and film at Syracuse University, Ms. Seidner D’Elia returned to New York and was working as a temp and doing commercials between acting jobs.
When she got a temp job at New Line, she thought it was a chance to be discovered.
“I think they discovered that I could answer phones really gracefully. I had good phone etiquette and I could type,” she says.
The executive she was working for asked her to become his assistant, but she said she didn’t want to because she was an actress.
“And he said, ‘Why don’t you act like you like what you’re doing here and stay here,” she recalled. “And one year became two, which became three, which became five.”
Ms. Seidner D’Elia became interested in marketing, began overseeing campaigns for syndication and was in charge of events, including the company’s presence at NATPE.
She started building relationships with the TV networks and spotted an opportunity in branded entertainment.
“The networks were coming to us and they were looking for extended content or deleted scenes from our films that were going to be running on their networks,” she said. “I said OK, but what are you going to give us?”
Eventually she was responsible for creating all programming content for theatrical releases, which ranged from 30-second vignettes to three-hour marathons. Creating content was a way to gain added exposure for the films without buying additional TV spots.
“That served both of us. It was something that was highly promotable for the network and highly promotable for our releases,” she said.
The same thing should work for MediaVest’s clients. Of course consumer brands typically don’t come with movie stars to create interest. But on the other hand, unlike movie releases, which have only a few weeks’ shelf-life in theaters, major brands last forever.
This has been an eventful year for Ms. Seidner D’Elia. In addition to her career change, she had her second son six months ago. Her older boy is 2½ years old. She says most of her time away from work is spent acting silly with the kids.
When she can she still likes to go to the movies, and recently saw “Body of Lies.” “I liked it. I just like having a popcorn and Milk Duds in my hands,” she said.
Who Knew? Early in her New Line career, she would call in sick on Wednesdays to appear in matinees of the off-Broadway show “Grandma Sylvia’s Funeral.” She would also hold rehearsals in the office from time to time and have friends at work prepare her for auditions. “At some point I realized I could do both,” she said. “I took the right road, and this has been really great for me.”

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