CBS Sets Transition Plan for Marketing Leadership in 2020
George Schweitzer, who directed the marketing strategies that helped build CBS into America’s Most-Watched Network and who has overseen promotional launches for many of television’s most successful broadcast series during the past three decades, has been named Chairman, CBS Marketing. At the same time, award-winning marketing executive Mike Benson will join CBS as President and Chief Marketing Officer. The announcements were made today by David Nevins, Chief Creative Officer for CBS, to whom both Schweitzer and Benson will report.
Mr. Schweitzer, who has deftly guided CBS marketing through several decades of industry evolution and shifting audience behavior, will continue in his role as Chairman through the 2019-2020 broadcast season. In the spring, Schweitzer will transition to a new role as Special Advisor to the Company, with Mr. Benson assuming CBS’ top marketing position. Benson will join CBS in October after serving as Head of Marketing for Amazon Studios since 2015.
“George Schweitzer is a marketing legend whose leadership and showmanship has defined both excellence and innovation,” said Nevins. “His resume of accomplishment spans every division and daypart of CBS, with boundless admiration and respect for his work coming from every corner of the company. From Super Bowls and 60 MINUTES, to long-running primetime hits and late night franchises, he and his team have played a huge role in making CBS one of America’s leading brands. We’re incredibly proud to appoint him to this new position and thrilled to draw upon his considerable expertise into the future.”
Continued Nevins: “I’m extremely grateful that when George decided it was time to set a transition, he committed himself to ensuring a bright future for CBS Marketing, and we think we’ve found the next perfect leader with Mike, whose breadth of experience matches all parts of our content business. Mike has been an accomplished, award-winning marketing leader at several major media companies, driving marketing for Amazon Studios and Prime Video through this period of growth for their original content strategy, and orchestrating cutting-edge campaigns for many of ABC’s network-defining series. At every turn, Mike’s work has been recognized for creativity and an entrepreneurial spirit that makes shows and brands stand above the crowd. Mike’s appointment is also an exciting homecoming as he started his career at CBS stations WCCO and KCBS and later worked at Viacom’s MTV Networks at VH1.”
As President and Chief Marketing Officer for CBS, Benson will be responsible for all brand marketing activities including advertising, promotion, creative, experiential marketing and events across CBS Entertainment, CBS News and CBS Sports. He will also work closely with CBS Television Studios, CBS All Access, CBS Interactive, CBS Television Stations and the CBS Global Distribution Group to coordinate branding and marketing efforts across all CBS brands.
At Amazon, Benson led marketing efforts in support of Amazon Original Content, exclusively for Prime Video. He and his team launched and marketed a wide range of adult, sports and children’s programming, including series such as “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan,” “The Man in the High Castle,” “Homecoming,” “Thursday Night Football,” “The Boys” and others. His work at Amazon has been recognized with Ad Week’s Brand Genius award, 17 Clio awards, including one Grand Clio, five Cannes Lion awards and an Emmy nomination.
Prior to Amazon, Benson was Chief Creative Officer for the Time Warner Global Media Group. In this role, he executed a wide range of innovative partnerships with brand marketers across the Time Warner corporate portfolio, including HBO, Warner Bros., Time Inc. and Turner Networks.
Benson also spent over 12 years at The Walt Disney Company, serving as Executive Vice President, Marketing, for the ABC Entertainment Group. He oversaw all marketing and promotional activities for primetime, late night and ABC Studios programming, creating a host of globally executed and highly recognized marketing campaigns for scripted and non-scripted series, specials, movies and mini-series, including “Modern Family,” “Lost,” “Desperate Housewives,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Dancing with the Stars,” “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and “The Bachelor.”
Benson started his career at CBS working in various positions at WCCO-TV/Minneapolis, and later served as Director of Communications for KCBS-TV/Los Angeles. He later worked at VH1/MTV Networks, serving as Senior Vice President, Promotion & Program Planning.
Schweitzer has been CBS’ marketing leader since 1994. Under his leadership, CBS has introduced numerous innovative concepts to television marketing, including several award-winning fall premiere promotions and dozens of creative cross-platform campaigns. Among his many achievements are the development of the first video-in-print advertisement, which delivered video clips of CBS programming inside Entertainment Weekly magazine, and the development of CBS Outernet, CBS’ out-of-home digital video operation, which extends CBS content to video screens in targeted high-traffic consumer environments, such as gas stations and doctors’ offices.
Schweitzer was honored with the PROMAX Brand Builder and Pinnacle Award for his leadership in television marketing and promotion. He was named Entertainment Marketer of the Year by Entertainment Weekly, Marketer of the Year by Brandweek magazine and twice named to the Advertising Age Marketing 100. In 2017 he was inducted into Media Post’s Online All Stars, which celebrates the stars in the online media, advertising and marketing industry who have pushed the business to new levels of excellence through their outstanding achievements and thought leadership.
Schweitzer first joined CBS in 1972 and held several positions in radio and television production, including production supervisor of many CBS Television Network, CBS News and CBS Sports broadcasts. In 1978, when he was a producer of “Captain Kangaroo,” he also organized the CBS Workshops on Children’s Television.
In 1979, he was promoted to Director, Communications, CBS/Broadcast Group. He was named Vice President, Communications and Operations, CBS Sports, in 1980. In 1982, he was appointed Vice President, Communications and Information, CBS/Broadcast Group, responsible for publicity and media relations. He held that post until joining Young & Rubicam in 1987, as Vice President and Director of Corporate Relations, and becoming involved in various aspects of the agency’s advertising, marketing and public relations.
Schweitzer returned to CBS in August 1988 as Senior Vice President, Communications, responsible for all advertising, promotion, publicity, and public relations. He was promoted to Senior Vice President, Marketing and Communications in October 1991, and to Executive Vice President, Marketing and Communications in April 1994. He was named President of the CBS Marketing Group in December 2004.
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