Jeffrey Godsick, President of Marketing Fox/Walden – Marketing to Children

By Joy A. Kennelly

Listening to President of Marketing for Fox/Walden, Jeffrey Godsick, speak last week, I thought it very funny that although the Internet is hugely popular and only becoming more so, he hated it and didn’t want to know about it, just hired people who knew it and let them run with it. That always makes me chuckle.

When I attended the Online Media, Marketing and Advertising Conference this past year, it was amazing to me how behind a lot of the major studios are in regards to internet marketing. Makes it obvious why the Writer’s Strike had to happen and why it’s taking so long to get resolved. If you don’t understand something, wouldn’t you stall too?

However, that’s a story for another day. Today I want to discuss Godsick’s conversation (during the Entertainment Public Relations class I have been taking over at UCLA Extension lead by Julian Myers) because he’s quite knowledgeable overall and very generous with his wisdom.

Running a new division, his goal is to produce and market five-seven films a year in the near future. Currently, they produce about two to three. What I found interesting with their development process is that eight people from all areas of this company – marketing, finance, production, and others sit in on the development process and have a say in what gets green lit and what doesn’t.

Maybe that happens in other studios too, but when I was working for FOX in Creative Development years back with Stu Smiley and Nena Rodrigue, that department seemed very separate from the rest of the departments. I doubt marketing had any say in anything until the TV show was in the can.

Maybe it’s different in film and maybe my memory fails me, but I thought Fox/Walden had a very unique business style they’ve incorporated in their 20 person division. Asking the question, “Who are you making the film for?” seems rudimentary, but so often people just slap something together hoping they’ll find their audience.

To start out with that basic premise seems extremely savvy which I believe has helped them become successful so quickly.

The other aspect I found very interesting, having enjoyed Walden Media’s film, The Chronicles of Narnia, is that Walden has their own book publishing entity. They may not publish very many books now, but the potential is huge. Especially since they can turn the book into a film immediately and have ancillary products to market simultaneously.

I find that rather brilliant.

When asked why certain films weren’t dumped when it was discovered they would tank in the box office, Jeffrey explained that films are the only product that are made without testing. If you dump it, then you lose the threshold sales and prevent DVD recognition and then you really don’t make your money back. Makes sense to me.

He thought the shortened window between the film being in the theaters and now out on DVD was insane. His desire was that the movie experience be extended to three to five months or longer. I agree.

One of the unusual tactics they employed with their recent Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium film starring Dustin Hoffman was to cut their TV promo’s to 7.5 seconds to allow for each special effect moment to have it’s own “magical” presentation. On some it worked, but others were cut short due to mechanical restrictions when aired.

Although Jeffrey has difficulty with the Internet he does embrace Digital as the future of how we’ll view films. I agree, but we’ve all been saying that for years! I believe it will take a few more years to really make that turn-over in the actual theaters a reality. Apparently the new Landmark Theater over on Pico and Overland is digital. Now I really must check it out!

Overall, he was extremely informative and gave a broad overview of many different areas of publicity and marketing. He was very enjoyable to listen to and learn from. I wouldn’t mind working at his company!

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