In a significant changing of the marketing guard, CBS will hand the main duties of promoting its shows and platforms to Mike Benson, who has spent the past four years as marketing chief for Amazon Studios.
George Schweitzer, who joined CBS in 1972 and has been a key contributor to the flagship broadcast network’s top-rated run in recent years, will pass the baton to Benson at the end of the 2019-2020 season.
Benson is joining the company as president and Chief Marketing Officer, with Schweitzer becoming Chairman, CBS Marketing. In spring 2020, Schweitzer will become a special advisor to the company, with Benson taking the top marketing post. Prior to Amazon, Benson held senior positions at ABC and Time Warner.
The transition will play out against the backdrop of CBS coming together with longtime corporate sibling Viacom in a $30 billion, all-stock deal. The companies have projected the deal will close by the end of 2019.
Schweitzer and Benson will report to David Nevins, Chief Creative Officer for CBS.
Benson will oversee all brand marketing activities for CBS, including advertising, promotion, creative, experiential marketing and events across the company’s entertainment, news and sports operations. He will also work closely with CBS Television Studios, CBS All Access, CBS Interactive, CBS Television Stations and the CBS Global Distribution Group to coordinate branding and marketing efforts across brands.
“George Schweitzer is a marketing legend whose leadership and showmanship has defined both excellence and innovation,” Nevins said. “His resume of accomplishment spans every division and daypart of CBS, with boundless admiration and respect for his work coming from every corner of the company. From Super Bowls and 60 Minutes, to long-running primetime hits and late night franchises, he and his team have played a huge role in making CBS one of America’s leading brands. We’re incredibly proud to appoint him to this new position and thrilled to draw upon his considerable expertise into the future.”
Nevins said Benson is the “perfect leader” to inherit the mantle from Schweitzer. His “breadth of experience matches all parts of our content business. Mike has been an accomplished, award-winning marketing leader at several major media companies, driving marketing for Amazon Studios and Prime Video through this period of growth for their original content strategy, and orchestrating cutting-edge campaigns for many of ABC’s network-defining series.”
Nevins noted that Benson began his career at CBS stations WCCO and KCBS. He also worked at Viacom-owned MTV Networks and VH1. At Amazon, he shepherded campaigns for shows such as The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and many others. In his stint at Time Warner, he was Chief Creative Officer for the Time Warner Global Media Group, spearheading partnerships with marketers across the corporate portfolio, including HBO, Warner Bros., Time Inc. and Turner Networks.
In a 12-year run at Disney, Benson was EVP Marketing for the entertainment group. He developed campaigns for shows across dayparts including Modern Family, Lost and Jimmy Kimmel Live.
Schweitzer has led marketing for CBS since 1994, overseeing several industry-leading marketing concepts. He developed the first video-in-print ad, which delivered video clips of CBS programming in a magazine, and the development of CBS “Outernet,” an out-of-home digital video operation.