The career turning point for Audrey Marco, director of marketing alliances at Columbia TriStar Interactive, came in 1995. Marco was working as an assistant in the television division of Columbia TriStar while pursuing classes in physics and bio-chemistry at UCLA. “I never took sciences in undergrad school,” explains Marco, 35, “and I wanted to go back and become a physical therapist.”
But the transplanted New Yorker quickly became smitten with the glamor of Hollywood, despite the demands of her decidedly low-rung studio job. “I figured my job wouldn’t be too stressful, being an assistant,” says Marco, “but it was one of the most stressful jobs I’ve ever had!”
Stressful, perhaps, but as the gatekeeper for a top studio suit at Columbia TriStar, a division of Sony Pictures Entertainment, Marco parlayed the contacts she made into greater job opportunities. “I met everybody from the mailroom guys to all of the executive vp’s who reported in to my boss,” she recalls.
“At the time, the studio was starting up these two new divisions, Interactive and [cable channel] the Game Show network,” says Marco. “I talked to the heads of both, and then I asked people what they thought.” Her unofficial consultants convinced her there was “a buzz” around interactive.
So Marco joined the then nascent division of Columbia TriStar Interactive, back in the days when CTI was primarily known for developing the interactive set-top box that allowed TV viewers to play along at home with Columbia TriStar game shows Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!. A test run in New York ended after the company working with CTI folded.
After some regrouping, Marco took her prior experience in advertising and developed the growing Web portion of CTI. “We all kind of looked at each other and said, ‘Web site? Anybody have any idea what a Web site is? Wanna try it?'”
Four years later, CTI and Marco have grown up with the Internet. Along with online extensions of global promotions for films such as Men In Black and Godzilla, Marco spearheaded last year’s successful launch of the Dawson’s Creek Web site. A co-branded online and off-line promotion with hair styling product Dep will appear in stores and on the site in mid-March.
Along with a Movielink agreement, which includes a customized search that directs users to local movie times and ticket purchase, Marco has orchestrated partnerships with Virgin Records and CollegeClub.com to promote the soundtrack for Columbia Pictures’ new movie Cruel Intentions.
Marco believes that having a parent company like Sony gives CTI “the ability to leverage all of the properties.”
Still, Marco concedes that neither she nor the studio “understands how I do what I do yet.” She confesses, “I’ll be perfectly honest. I make it up as I go.”
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