A+E Networks’ New CMO Is Ready to Take Some Big Marketing Risks

But adjusting to American English could be tougher for Amanda Hill


Current gig Chief marketing officer, A+E Networks

Previous gig Chief creative officer, international, A+E Networks

Age 42 

Adweek: You're now handling A+E's global marketing after overseeing only the international side. How are the company's domestic challenges different?

Amanda Hill: Not particularly different. The thing we've been working on for the past year is how do we turn this incredible portfolio of networks into brands that really resonate in culture, and that's the same whether you're in a U.S. market or another market, which is moving beyond marketing from show to show to show to actually building powerful brands that really cut through. And that's more of a global challenge than just a domestic challenge.

What are the first things you're tackling in your new job?

The whole idea of marketing in the past was very much homogenized. We're talking far more about how we operate at a brand level, how we contribute to culture, how we have continued conversations that extend beyond shows, whereas a lot of marketing for many, many years in A+E or other networks was very much about you marketed the TV show, and then you marketed the next TV show. That's a real shift in marketing, when you start to think about, how do I contribute? Sometimes it's really about how marketing really drafts off culture and connects back to it.

With more options than ever before for TV audiences, how do you break through with your messaging?

There's a new rule I talk about a lot, which is 70/20/10. Seventy percent is do the stuff you know works, do it well, and don't drop that ball. Twenty percent is really push in terms of innovation, and do stuff that's far more outside the box. And the 10 percent is take some risks, and do stuff that you don't even know if it's going to work. Because so much of great marketing now is great content, and as much as I'd like to believe that every single thing that we did had a really clear ROI before we went into it, you can't always know what's going to pop.

What is your approach to reaching millennials?

The same as everyone else's, really: the ability for us to create original content for social is critical. We've got a new part of our company that's just been set up called 45th & Dean. They are tasked with creating short-form [branded] content that really delivers. So it's native content for digital. For Project Runway, they came out with this wonderfully hysterical show [Project Sammy's Way], this entirely original parody piece. And so a lot of it is bringing in the right talent who's got the right mindset, but are creating specifically for the platforms they're going to.

How has marketing evolved in this multiplatform world?

That's been a massive shift for a lot of people in our world, where a lot of money would have been spent on that one, beautiful promo. We might now have 30 different ways we want to communicate on one show. And you're having to be creative on each of those platforms you're going out to, because you can very rarely take the same approach on each.

You've relocated to New York from London for the new job. What's been the biggest adjustment living in the States?

Probably how much my team doesn't understand what I'm talking about! I thought I was savvy, because I've been here so many times. Even asking for an A3 piece of paper, and you find out that it's called a tablet—you have a lot of very funny communication moments, where you just realize that we all speak English, but we speak completely separate languages. I get myself in pickles all the time!

This story first appeared in the November 28, 2016 issue of Adweek magazine.

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