How HBO Max’s Jason Mulderig Crafted His Perfect Gig  

For brand marketing head, 'change is the only constant'

a man standing in front of a red wall with his arms folded
Mulderig identified a gap at HBO and built his current position around that. Courtesy of HBO

Jason Mulderig’s dream job didn’t exist when he started at HBO 20 years ago. Over time, he built it himself.

The brand marketer, who started in the distribution and affiliate marketing side of the business, worked his way over to the consumer marketing side in 2011. Cinemax was getting into original programming and HBO was debuting its first app, HBO Go. Mulderig picked the responsibilities he wanted for his role and began building a business argument for his perfect job description.

“I had the ability to practice for the job I wanted, and then say, ‘Hey, there’s this gap. I think I can fill it,’” said Mulderig, who now serves as svp, brand marketing, HBO and HBO Max.

In recent years, Mulderig has been tasked with designing HBO’s master brand strategy, from HBO’s first global brand campaign, “It’s What Connects Us,” to promotions highlighting women at the service. Now, the brand and product acumen Mulderig built at HBO is being put to the test as part of the company’s biggest swing yet: HBO Max. The streamer, which debuted May 27, comes with a friendly, approachable tone that’s aimed at considerably broadening the HBO base.

“Program marketing is amazing, but we’re moving into new audiences and trying to welcome in and introduce these people to more of the brand itself,” Mulderig said.

With the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, HBO Max’s marketing has looked a lot different than expected, but Mulderig is taking it in stride. The new challenges every day keep Mulderig motivated and excited in his work.

“Change has been what is consistent,” Mulderig said. “The reason I’ve been here as long as I have is that there’s always a focus on what’s next, starting from a programming standpoint and permeating into the rest of the company.”

Big Mistake

Early on, Mulderig second-guessed his marketing ideas, worried that he would tarnish the HBO brand. “We were maybe a little tentative about how we wanted to approach some of these campaigns,” he said. “There were certainly some things that we left on the table or were killed that were really good ideas, and the graveyard’s bigger than I’d like to admit.”

Lesson Learned

Push forward, Mulderig says; ideas don’t have to be perfect to be really good. “You just can’t overthink it,” Mulderig explained. “You have to find your way through that.”

How He Got the Gig

Mulderig started at HBO fresh out of college, but he saw the potential to build a brand role across the HBO portfolio before a job description existed. It took several years for Mulderig to build out his dream job himself.

Pro Tip

“We are a brand that’s on the cusp of change all the time, and we’re driving conversations, so you need to find ways to really be in tune with culture, to live and breathe it in your daily life,” he said. “If you’re not a huge consumer of culture and content, it’s hard to be successful because things are moving so quickly.”

@kelseymsutton Kelsey Sutton is the streaming editor at Adweek, where she covers the business of streaming television.