Marianne Gambelli on What to Expect From Her First Upfront as Fox’s Ad Sales Chief

‘When we go into a negotiation, we deliver on what we promise’

"We’re going to approach it more holistically, and make it more interconnected," said Marianne Gambelli of Fox's upfront event.
Fox

Ahead of the most distinct, transformative upfronts week in a decade, Adweek is sitting down with a different ad sales chief each day. We’re starting with the newest top ad exec and the newest company: Marianne Gambelli, who last October was named president of ad sales for the freshly spun-off Fox Corporation.

Gambelli, who had overseen ad sales for Fox News and Fox Business Network since 2017, took over for Fox Networks Group ad revenue chief Joe Marchese. Marchese left the company after the Disney-Fox merger was finalized and after Fox Corp (including Fox Network, Fox Sports, Fox News and Fox Business Network) was spun off in March. She previously worked as Horizon Media’s chief investment officer before taking on the Fox News job and spent 22 years in ad sales at NBC, most recently as president of sales and marketing.

Ahead of her first Fox Corp. upfront, Gambelli talked with Adweek about what marketers should expect from Monday’s presentation, Fox’s top upfront priorities and her different approach to new ad formats.

Adweek: You were named to your new position in October, which gave you several months to prepare for the Fox Corp. spinoff.  What did you do focus on?
Marianne Gambelli: It was an exciting time, because I was asked to put the organization together that I thought was appropriate, given the new assets. So we spent that time doing “voice of the customer” research, we had consultants come in, we looked at the portfolio and we reorganized based on the new Fox assets. It was a very busy time, but it was also an exciting time, because we got to reinvent the way Fox went to market [and] the way we approach things, and then obviously we had to split the organization and we were reorganizing because we were trying to get ready for day one. So the day the deal closed, we were already in place and ready to go.

With all that heavy lifting behind you, how are you approaching Fox Corp.’s first upfront?
We’ve been on the road. We started with the news upfront in March, then we took the sports group on the road, and then we took the entertainment group on the road. We’ve had a lot of positive reaction to Charlie [Collier, the CEO of Fox Entertainment] and our development slate. Obviously, our sports speak for themselves. I think people are excited about the new company. Talk about premium content at scale, without a lot of the rest. So I think people are really excited to see what we’re going to do and about working with us in a different way. Our message to them has been [that,] because we’re smaller and more nimble in this new organization, we can even bring them closer to our content and to our audience.

How are you structuring Monday’s upfront event? Will it seem similar to the previous Fox upfronts, or are you trying to shake everything up?
We’re going to try to do a little bit of both. [laughs] We’d love to blow it up and start all over again, but at the end of the day, there wasn’t a lot of time, and we still did have to get our messaging across. So we’re going to approach it more holistically and make it more interconnected. We’ll still give most of the time to entertainment, because obviously people are there to see the new shows and what our slate looks like. But sports plays such an important role in who we are, and we have WWE [Smackdown] and new assets that we picked up that we’re really excited about, so we’ll lean into that. Probably a little less than we’ve done in the past, but the intent is to share the stage as much as we can.

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