Making the move from New York to Los Angeles might seem daunting — it's certainly a change of scenery, not to mention city layout — but Tara DeVeaux feels well-equipped and ready to handle the transition to the West Coast. And that's not just from a personal perspective: The outgoing CMO of BBDO New York, DeVeaux in early July will assume the chief marketer position at the entertainment marketing firms Wild Card and 3 AM.
The latter was founded in 2014 as a joint venture between director Ridley Scott's RSA Films and the movie-centric ad agency Wild Card, but it's already earned high praise in the years since for its innovative work on films like "Alien: Covenant" and "The Martian" (both Scott-directed joints).
"Tara has a passion for entertainment and fluency with streaming and social media platforms that is a great fit for our culture," Nick Temple, owner and editor of Wild Card, said in a statement around the news. "She'll work with our team to best integrate strategy, audience insights and distribution into our work creating theatrical teasers, trailers and spots with the most memorable stories and greatest reach."
Marketing Dive caught up with DeVeaux just ahead of her move to chat about her two-decade history with entertainment marketing, why she's excited about newer channels like virtual reality (VR) and why thinking digital is critical for engaging today's audiences.
The following interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
MARKETING DIVE: You're obviously busy in the middle of a big move in a few ways. What was the reasoning behind the switch from the agency side to a more niche space like entertainment marketing?
TARA DEVEAUX: I've always had a passion for entertainment. I've either worked in the agency world or for entertainment brands — at Turner, Oxygen and then, when I first started at BBDO, I ran the HBO business for seven years. I worked on the Showtime business when I was at [Young & Rubicam] many moons ago. So I've always had a foot in both worlds. This just feels like a very natural progression, particularly now that entertainment is becoming so strategic and is working with brands in so many different, new and innovative ways.
It's been interesting to see a convergence between the brand marketing and entertainment worlds, with brands trying to mirror Hollywood-style production but also movies and TV shows working through newer ways to do product integration.
DEVEAUX: It's interesting because entertainment brands and entities, whether it's studios or networks, have many weapons in their arsenal, whether it's product placement, sharing [intellectual property] or integration. It all really depends on a brand's priorities.
People I know can shun product placement, but I think even that can be valuable. Again, it depends on priorities, but it has the ability to increase awareness and positive sentiment for a brand. Whether it's as extensive as brands creating their own content, or even something as simple or classic as product placement, I think brands have always wanted to be close to entertainment and will continue to see that there's value in that.
I think 3 AM and Wild Card's approach to it is interesting. These pieces of content work as short films or even prologues to the movie. What did you see in their strategy that differentiated them?
DEVEAUX: What I feel like is new and different in the space is the ability for brands to get involved in a project early on. That has been really key to the programs and campaigns that 3 AM and Wild Card have been doing. To be on set, to be able to leverage the actors — it's really what initially drew me to them. The work that they've done on "The Martian" with Under Armour and "Alien: Covenant" with Audi was very different than brand integrations you've seen before.
In terms of where that content lives, is the focus there on digital, theaters or somewhere else? What's the media plan?
DEVEAUX: I am new to it, so I can't speak for the work that was done [in the past]. I can tell you that a lot of the things we've talked about with them is not just the creative side and developing the content, but also ensuring that it's distributed in a way that's impactful to audiences. There's a lot of content out there, and there's more content than people can consume.
What I find really interesting about the thinking that's happening at 3 AM [and Wild Card] is that distribution is a huge part of the conversation. Understanding where audiences are playing and being able to connect to them and develop those connection planning principles are some of the things that most interest me. It's what I look forward to bringing to them and the projects they do in the future.
In your upcoming work, do you see a lot of that distribution shift going toward digital or channels like mobile? One of the big trends is that people are on channels like TV less. Younger people, in particular, are not always where you'd traditionally see some of this stuff.
DEVEAUX: I would challenge that — that people are watching TV less. I would instead say that people are watching less TV on TV. So, yes, definitely, being in a mobile space, being digital and creating content for the digital space has to be a priority.
In terms of how you think about newer, more immersive formats to market movies, is AR/VR part of the equation? How are you thinking about innovation?
DEVEAUX: We've just kind of scratched the surface of what can be done [with VR]. That's a really exciting platform to play on.
Especially in terms of the storytelling aspect, when it comes to movies, it seems to be particularly resonant on an emotional level.
DEVEAUX: The work 3 AM is doing in the space is really [...] innovative. VR is something they did with "Alien: Covenant" a couple of years ago, with the "In Utero" VR experience. We're constantly interested in pushing the boundaries and exploring new technology. It's not just critical from an audience perspective, but it's a whole lot of fun.
Is there anything else from your time at BBDO that you're excited to bring to the table to 3 AM and Wild Card?
DEVEAUX: I bring an understanding, not just of brands, but of how to reach their audiences. I've developed many first-of-their-kind programs across multiple platforms, so I get the brands, I get the audience and I also understand how to innovate in the space they're playing in. I hope to have a chance to continue to do that at 3 AM.