UPDATED with more details: Disney has hired Geoff Morrell, the EVP of Communications & Advocacy at oil and energy giant bp, to take over some of the duties of Zenia Mucha, Disney’s longtime Senior EVP and Chief Communications Officer. Morrell’s title will be Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, a newly created position.
Mucha, along with fellow veteran Disney exec Alan Braverman, the Senior EVP and Corporate General Counsel, announced in July that they would retire at year’s end after long tenures. The exits are in line with that of Disney chairman Bob Iger, who is also leaving. Both were loyal lieutenants of Iger’s, ascending soon after Iger was made president and COO in 2000.
Sources confirmed to Deadline on Monday that Morrell, who moved to London in 2017 to run BP’s group communications and external affairs after spending six years leading bp America’s communications and government relations teams, will take over Mucha’s oversight of the comms side as well as government relations, which was one of Braverman’s remits.
Disney said in a release Tuesday that Morrell will have oversight of Corporate Communications, Global Public Policy, Government Relations, Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental, Social and Governance teams. He will start January 24, 2022 and report directly to CEO Bob Chapek, who took the reins from Iger in February 2020.
Under the new leadership structure, Disney’s head of Corporate Social Responsibility will report to both Morrell and Chapek. A new head of Corporate Communications will be hired after Morrell joins.
“In this unique time of industry disruption and social change, it is more important than ever that our consumers, communities, employees, and shareholders understand who we are and what we stand for,” Chapek said in a press release Tuesday morning. “At the same time, the spheres of communications, corporate governance, social responsibility, government relations and public policy are increasingly interconnected and require a focused, coordinated approach. Geoff is a seasoned, insightful and accomplished public affairs officer, and I am delighted to appoint him to this new role, where he will build on Disney’s already strong reputation.”
Morrell previously was a White House correspondent at ABC News before serving as chief spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Defense in the Bush and Obama administrations. According to his bio on BP’s corporate website, he joined bp and was “instrumental in rebuilding bp’s reputation following the Deepwater Horizon accident” which took place in 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico.
THR was first to report the hire Monday.
Disney has been setting up its post-Iger world of late, last week appointing Susan Arnold as chairman of the board. That move takes effect when Iger formally exits December 31. Iger has been executive chairman at Disney for nearly two years, with an official focus on creative endeavors. He was CEO from 2005-2020 after succeeding Michael Eisner. Prior to that, he held several top roles at both Disney and ABC.
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