Zynga announced this morning that DreamWorks Animation chief executive Jeffrey Katzenberg joined the board of directors at the social games giant. Board members don’t always play major roles in the companies they join, but Katzenberg’s name alone helps Zynga burnish its credibility among more traditional media players — and he could personally provide the developer with special access to Hollywood’s production and distribution prowess.
“Jeffrey redefined storytelling when he launched DreamWorks Animation,” Zynga CEO Mark Pincus said in a press release. “He turned an independent studio into a brand name and his vision will be an asset as we work to define the future of play.”
Katzenberg is best known in the film industry for his work on animated films. In 1994, he co-founded DreamWorks SKG with with Steven Spielberg and David Geffen after resigning from his position as Chairman of Walt Disney Studios. Between the two studios, Katzenberg managed and produced the releases of blockbuster animated films like Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), The Little Mermaid (1989), Beauty and the Beast (1991), Aladdin (1992), The Lion King (1994), Shrek (2001), Madagascar (2005), Kung Fu Panda (2008), and How to Train Your Dragon (2010).
Zynga seems to be expanding its brand promotion tie-in strategy of late. In the last year, we’ve seen branded campaigns in Zynga games from McDonald’s, 7-Eleven, and Green Giant, and we’ve seen film cross-promotion across specific Zynga games. For example, Paramount Pictures’ Rango got a branded quest in FrontierVille; Mafia Wars featured special themed goods to promote the DVD release of Universal Studios’ Public Enemies, and DreamWorks’ got a single-day campaign tied to the theatrical release of Megamind. With Katzenberg on the board, we expect to see Zynga’s relationship with the film industry deepen, and we’re wondering if a cross-promotion could be in the works for DreamWorks’ Kung Fu Panda 2, which is due to hit theaters next month.
Katzenberg joins existing board members Pincus, Zynga EVP of Business Owen Van Natta, Bing Gordon of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Foundry Group Managing Director Brad Feld, and LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman.