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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Disney CEO earns big bucks. On Line Gambling gains high profile competitor. Superbowl ads to premiere in movie theaters.



Kia Super Bowl Ad
 Kia Motors USA advertisement in the 2012 Super Bowl features fashion model Adriana Lima, fighter Chuck Liddell and Motley Crue. Credit:  Kia Motors USA

From the LA Times Company Store Blog (click here).
 
Kia Motors to Premiere Superbowl Ad in Movie Theaters. The Super Bowl has become television's biggest stage. Within days, Kia Motors USA will begin touting its Super Bowl commercial on big screens.

To kick off its football championship advertising campaign, Kia Motors will release a teaser trailer for its upcoming Super Bowl commercial in 18,000 movie theaters, beginning Jan. 27.  Then, four days before the big Feb. 5 game, the car company will introduce the full-length 60-second commercial, called "Drive the Dream," on the same 18,000 screens.

It is believed to be the first time a Super Bowl commercial will premiere in movie theaters.
The move by Kia is part of a growing trend by marketers to give sneak peaks or unveil their entire ads before the Super Bowl to get a jump on competitors and gain traction in the increasingly important social media platforms.

"We are trying to continue to push the envelope,” Michael Sprague, vice president of marketing for Kia Motors America, said. “Consumers at the movies will start tweeting about the ad, and that should help us build momentum and awareness.”

Kia's Optima sedan ad -- created by the car company's longtime agency, David & Goliath of El Segundo -- features super model Adriana Lima, MMA fighter Chuck Liddell and the rock band Motley Crue.  The concept for the commercial came during research sessions in which a consumer on a panel said the Optima was his dream car, said David Angelo, chief executive of David & Goliath.
Kia doesn’t think the early release will spoil the freshness of the ad, which will make its television debut during the Feb. 5 championship game broadcast by NBC.

“Every year, the Super Bowl audience grows. And if we can tap 5 to 10 million people who see it early, there will still be 100 million people who haven’t seen it when it breaks during the Super Bowl,” Sprague said. “We are simply trying to create the buzz and get people talking.”

The Kia ad will be distributed in theaters by National CineMedia, which describes itself as the largest in-theater network in North America.  The company -- a joint venture between AMC, Regal and Cinemark -- also programs sporting events and concerts.

The Super Bowl ad stakes are increasingly high. This year, companies are paying NBC an average of $3.5 million for a 30-second spot, and more than $6 million for a 60-second spot. 

Zynga Casino
Zynga General Manager Lo Toney, speaking at a Zynga event in October.

Angry Bird's Zynga to move into on-line gambling. Zynga may be weighing its odds of succeeding in the online gambling business, but the smart money is on the San Francisco company staying out of the potentially lucrative but legally murky world of online betting -- at least in the near future.

The maker of FarmVille and Zynga Poker stirred up a great deal of discussion when it issued the following statement Thursday to AllThingsD:

“We build games and experiences that our players want and love. Zynga Poker is the world’s largest online poker game with more than seven million people playing every day and over 30 million each month. We know from listening to our players that there’s an interest in the real money gambling market. We’re in active conversations with potential partners to better understand and explore this new opportunity.”

A Zynga spokesman would not elaborate beyond the statement. But company officials who declined to talk on the record said the social gaming company is merely exploring the option of online gambling and that it has no plans in place to dive in.

Part of what is holding Zynga back are the legal uncertainties. While some 39 states, including California, allow online betting games with cash prizes, others do not. The U.S. Department of Justice in December issued a legal opinion that stated proposals by states to sell lottery tickets online would not violate the 1961 federal Wire Act banning sports betting.

Some argued that the opinion paved the way for states to move into online gambling, but others aren't so sure the narrowly crafted opinion would extend beyond state-sponsored lotteries. Until the legal boundaries are clarified, Zynga is unlikely to cash in its virtual chips for the real deal, company executives said.

Another potential area of concern is the stigma associated with gambling. Historically, many online game companies take pains to distance themselves from online casinos and betting sites, preferring to align their brands as more wholesome, family-friendly entertainment.

That hasn't stopped some daring entrepreneurs from exploring the boundaries, including Richard Branson, who partnered with WorldGaming.com, a Canadian online start-up, to launch Virgin Gaming, which lets video game jockeys compete for cash prizes.

But Branson's move into online betting is rare within the games industry, which is struggling to prove itself as a media, entertainment and art form that is just as legitimate as movies, music or books.
Still, Zynga has broken the mold before -- by eschewing hard-core gamers and successfully going after mainstream consumers who previously had not spent much money on games. Who's to say it won't throw out a few more traditions and delve into online casinos?

Zynga is already partially there. The company last year said it was building a "casino franchise" that would aggregate its current and future competitive games such as Zynga Poker and Zynga Bingo.

Disney top man earns over $31.4 million a year. Walt Disney Co. Chief Executive Bob Iger received nearly $31.4 million in total compensation last year, an 11.9% increase from 2010, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Walt Disney Co. CEO Bob Iger
The board's compensation committee laid out the case for Iger's package, noting that 90% is tied to Disney's performance. It said the Burbank entertainment giant achieved record net income, revenue and earnings per share in fiscal 2011, and initiated a number of projects that would contribute to the company's future growth -- including expanding attractions at Disney theme parks in Florida, California and Hong Kong, and the joint venture to create a new park in Shanghai.

Media executives' salaries have come under scrutiny in recent years, with media mogul Sumner Redstone and his top lieutenants at Viacom Inc. drawing especially lucrative salaries and compensation packages in 2010.  Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman earned the distinction of drawing the largest one in corporate America that year: $84.5 million.

At Disney, the board said it wanted to make sure it retained Iger's expertise through the end of his employment contract, in June 2016, to assist with the transition to a new chief executive. Iger will also assume the title of chairman in March with John Pepper's retirement from the board.
According to a summary of his compensation, Iger collected a base salary of $2 million and stock awards worth $8 million. He received $4.8 million worth of stock options and $15.5 million in bonuses. His corporate perquisites -- personal travel, security and other items, such as vehicle expenses, a health club membership or exercise equipment -- amounted to $962,932. The value of Iger's pension also grew by more than $2 million in the year.

Alan Braverman, Disney's general counsel, collected total compensation of $6.9 million last year, an increase of 3% over 2010.  Kevin Mayer, the head of strategic planning, saw a 15% cut in his total compensation, which dropped to $3.6 million for the year.

The company's chief financial officer, Jay Rasulo, received $9.9 million for the year, a gain of 2.5%.
In a note to shareholders, Iger wrote that 10 board members would stand for reelection, signaling that Disney would not replace the late Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Jobs, who died in October.


From the LA Times Company Store Blog (click here).

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