January 17, 2022

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Ad Age 2021 Best Marketers: WarnerMedia

The company has used the same strategy for some of its recent films, like last summer’s release of “Space Jam: A New Legacy” starring NBA superstar LeBron James and the Looney Tunes gang. That movie premiered with more than 200 marketing collaborations backing it up, from brands including McDonald’s, Xbox, Nike, GameStop, Crocs and Spalding.

The company has also deployed its IP for the common good. WarnerMedia struck a deal with Ally Financial to lend the star power of its roster of DC Universe superheroes to the financial company’s newest brand campaign that leaned into the tagline, “We’re all better off with an Ally.” Created by Anomaly, the campaign debuted at the DC FanDome virtual event on Oct. 16. But the marketing push didn’t just support Ally; it also backed the Milestone Initiative, which was created as part of DC’s Next Generation program that aims to tackle minority underrepresentation in the comic book industry.

“We really have this passion around creativity and providing spaces for diverse creators,” Andrea Brimmer, Ally’s chief marketer, told Ad Age. “So when DC and WarnerMedia approached us with this opportunity, we thought it was a great way to extend our efforts we’ve already had around creating new spaces for people of color.”

“Increasingly, we’re seeing more and more that there are lots of brand and media folks asking about our DE&I efforts,” said Christy Haubegger, executive VP, communications and chief inclusion officer at WarnerMeda. “We’re seeing it in RFPs. This was not true five or 10 years ago.”

But for WarnerMedia, equitable representation and diversity aren’t just goals in its consumer-facing activations, but a priority in-house—part of the reason the company released its own Equity & Inclusion Report in October, which Haubegger describes as giving “a snapshot of the work that’s happening across our organization.”

It offers some encouraging figures, such as WarnerMedia’s closeness to gender parity in its global workforce and the fact that 50% of its new hires last year identified as a race other than white. And while there’s still plenty of work to do, Haubegger said “it’s part of who we are now.”

See all of Ad Age’s 2021 Marketers of the Year here.