Longtime ESPN ad sales boss Ed Erhardt is set to retire after two decades with the company, prompting Disney to combine ad sales for ESPN and ABC, along with sales for other cable networks, Ad Age reports.
Rita Ferro, who will have the new title of president of Disney ad sales, will take over sales for ESPN. Erhardt, who has been president of Global Sales & Marketing for ESPN since May 2015, will retire next year.
Ferro has been overseeing ad sales for Disney’s entertainment, news and kids’ properties, which includes ABC, since February 2017, Ad Age notes.
“Since she took the reins, Ferro has been looking for ways to allow advertisers to do deals across the company’s entire portfolio, including ESPN, which historically had been kept at an arm’s length from the rest of the Mouse House’s sales operations,” the report notes. “Last year, Ferro and Erhardt worked together on what they dubbed the ‘Disney Difference,’ an opportunity for marketers to extend their partnerships to also incorporate its movie studio, consumer products and on-the-ground activations at its theme parks, for example, as part of an all-encompassing ad buy.”
ESPN says of Erhardt in its executive profile on him: “He broke new ground in the media and advertising sales industry by creating the first unified sales organization that represents The Walt Disney Company sports assets across all media platforms. Organized by team and focused on customer needs and media agnostic, it has been widely hailed by competitors and customers as the prototype for the future of media marketing and selling.”