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Michael Francis is joining DreamWorks Animation in the newly created role of chief global brand officer, responsible for the company’s licensing and consumer products efforts, as well as franchise management.
Francis, who is relocating to Los Angeles from Minneapolis, rose to prominence at Target Corp., where he spent 26 years, rising through the ranks to serve as executive vp and chief marketing officer.
Upon leaving Target, he served as president of JCPenny before founding his own consulting company, Fairview Associates. Clients included Gap Inc.
“Michael is among the world’s top brand strategists whose distinguished career in successfully growing brands around the world is unparalleled, and we are thrilled to welcome him to the DreamWorks Animation executive team,” DWA CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg and COO Ann Daly said in a joint statement announcing Francis’ appointment.
“We have custom created this vital new role specifically for Michael so that he can work toward developing our business on a global scale by leveraging both the overall DreamWorks Animation brand in addition to our growing collection of high-quality family entertainment properties,” they continued.
Francis joins DWA as the company commences its new distribution agreement with 20th Century Fox and ramps up the number of movies it releases annually to three titles. Also, DWA recently acquired Classic Media, whose library includes the characters Casper, Lassie and George of the Jungle.
In an interview, Katzenberg said Francis’ arrival at DWA marks the company’s most important hire in years. He and Francis first met when Francis was at Target.
Katzenberg also noted that Turbo, which hits theaters July 19, has the most potential of any film DWA has ever released in terms of consumer products potential (the story follows a snail who acquires superhero strength in terms of speed).
“I am tremendously excited to join the DreamWorks Animation team. This is an incredibly powerful global family brand with enviable brand equity and significant untapped potential,” Francis said. “DreamWorks Animation has a number of exciting opportunities for future growth and I look forward to working with Jeffrey, Ann and the entire team to take on this new role of elevating their iconic branded entertainment properties to even greater heights around the world.”
Francis will begin at DreamWorks Animation immediately on a part-time basis and will assume his new role full-time in February.
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