By David Poland email@example.com
Will Bumble Bring A New Buzz To Fox Publicity?
I like Bumble Ward. I have since I met her… I don’t know… 15 years ago. I still do business with some of her former associates… and I remember the rest of them fondly. I still quote Bebe Lerner’s “movie friends” from that radical Tad Friend piece that marked the movement towards Bumble “retiring” at or near the top of her game.
I also like the family at Fox’s publicity department. I think Bumble will be the sixth person to hold that corner office in the 15 years or so that I’ve worked in conjunction with the studio. Others have come and gone, but a lot of the staff has been there for a long time already.
But as the years have passed, I don’t think the department has ever really been reimagined. Those seismic style shifts are rare.
Disney has changed and continues to change, after execs from outside of the Hollywood bubble came in to run things about 18 months ago. Mike Vollman fought to change the landscape of Paramount’s film publicity department while he was there, coming in on the heels of a lot of people getting fired after the DW pseudo-merger.
The most radical marketing department -publicity included – in the last decade was DreamWorks, pre-merger. Terry Press created a machine that was an intense, tough, funny, daring, sometimes enraged family. Part of what worked so well was that the studio was small, everyone was in the boat together, for better and sometimes, for worse. So much of the marketing and publicity job has become, at the majors, about managing the talent, that innovation has become harder to embrace.
But while the personalities have changed and new technology has changed the media field a bit, the last decade-plus at Warners, Universal, Sony, and Fox… pretty consistent in tone. Very smart people working their asses off. Occasional moments of radical inspiration. But still, it’s a big machine… throwing out the bath water without the baby isn’t easy.
I don’t want to see anyone at Fox fired or replaced. But I am deeply interested in whether Bumble will push her new team in some new directions, in terms of how the thinking about movie publicity works.
It’s a different world out there now. The value of publicity waned for a while there… just too many marketing dollars defining the marketplace. But with the industry trying to pull back on those marketing dollars, simple awareness becoming less challenging, but actual calls to ticket-buying action on titles that are not pre-sold seeming harder and harder, it feels like it might be time for publicity to reemerge as a dominant force.
But not so much by doing what’s always been done.
I can only assume that Oren wanted Bumble because she will think out of the box… and because he believes she can manage the pressures of this job. Maybe a former personal publicist knows how to manage the personals in a new way.
Should be interesting. We should get a sense of where things are – or aren’t – going by sometime in November.