EXCLUSIVE: This was the coveted Head Of Worldwide Marketing job for Walt Disney Studios which MT Carney just exited and all of Hollywood was speculating on her replacement. I’ve learned the outside-the-box winner is Ricky Strauss, the 16-year Sony Pictures veteran and most recently Participant Media’s man behind The Help for DreamWorks and Disney. I expect an announcement to be made later today. The long-time motion picture production and marketing exec joined Participant Media in March 2005 as President. In his post, he presides over all of Participant’s feature film production, acquisition and marketing efforts, as well as its television and publishing activities. In 2011 besides The Help, Participant had Steven Soderbergh’s box office hit Contagion for Warner Bros. Prior to joining Participant, Ricky ran his own film and television production company, Ricochet Entertainment, where he executive  produced The Sweetest Thing, starring Cameron Diaz, among other projects. Before Ricochet, Ricky served as SVP of Production at Sony, where he developed and supervised film projects for the studio. From 1988 to 1997, he served as an advertising executive at Columbia Pictures, creating award winning ad campaigns for many feature films. Meanwhile, the LA Times engaged in a ridiculous speculation game and failed to include Strauss on a usual suspects list.

UPDATE: Here’s the official Disney announcement:

BURBANK, Calif. – January 13, 2012 – Rich Ross, Chairman of The Walt Disney Studios, announced today that Ricky Strauss has been named President of Marketing for The Walt Disney Studios. Strauss will oversee the Studios’ global marketing strategy encompassing creative, media, digital, promotions, publicity, research and synergy across all distribution channels for motion pictures released under the Walt Disney Pictures (including Walt Disney Animation and Pixar Animation), Marvel Studios, and Touchstone Pictures banners, which includes DreamWorks Studios films released via Touchstone.

“I am happy to welcome Ricky Strauss to The Walt Disney Studios family. With 25 years of industry experience, he brings a deep understanding of all aspects of the film business as well as incredible skill in branding and cutting-edge marketing,” said Ross. “He will undoubtedly raise the Studios’ creative bar as we enter 2012 and look ahead at showcasing a spectacular slate of films to audiences around the world.”

“The future of Disney movies is as exciting as the legacy, and I’m honored to have the opportunity to be a part of that. Disney, Pixar, Marvel, and DreamWorks Studios are among the world’s best and brightest brands,” said Strauss. “My experience at Participant has been incredible and I’m so proud of my colleagues and everything we accomplished. I look forward now to getting to work with the exceptional team at Disney, doing some of the most innovative marketing in the industry.”

A 25-year movie veteran, Strauss has created award-winning marketing campaigns for numerous feature films and has overseen all aspects of film production. He most recently served as President of Participant Media, where he oversaw the company’s marketing, production, and acquisition for a broad range of socially relevant and commercially viable films including this summer’s blockbuster The Help, acclaimed features The Kite Runner, The Visitor, and Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion, as well as documentaries such as Food, Inc. and the Academy Award®-winning An Inconvenient Truth and The Cove. Prior to joining Participant in 2005, Strauss founded Sony-based Ricochet Entertainment, where he executive-produced the Cameron Diaz film The Sweetest Thing. He also spent 16 years at Sony, where he served as a senior marketing executive (Columbia/TriStar Pictures) and later as Senior Vice President of Production.