Parkes, who also is EVP of digital studios, has been leading marketing for the channels group that includes MTV, VH1, CMT and Logo for the past five years. She was promoted to oversee marketing for additional cable networks such as Comedy Central, Paramount Network and TV Land following the 2019 ViacomCBS merger.
In a note to staff, Parkes said her decision to leave was influenced in part by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, providing her time “to reflect while focusing on family, work and giving back to the community.”
“Over the last few months, I’ve been speaking to Chris [McCarthy] about finding the right time to transition out of my role for two reasons: the first being the transformational work we have done together over the last five years is near complete,” Parkes wrote. “The second is that we are all living through a unique moment in time – and for me, that means my whole family is living under one roof again. It’s because of these two reasons that I want to take this time to spend with my family and to assess what the next challenge is for me to take on.”
According to company sources, Chris McCarthy, president of Entertainment and Youth Brands, is close to selecting finalists for her replacement. Parkes will stay on through the end of the year to help with the transition.
In addition to her work for ViacomCBS brands, during her tenure, Parkes was behind several general PSA campaign efforts including the #AloneTogether and Vote For Your Life initiatives this year.
Before joining the company, Parkes spent two decades as the chief marketing officer of Major League Baseball.
You can read Parkes’ note to staff in full below.
For all of us, this year has been unlike any other, with so many challenges and opportunities to reinvent and use our reach to make a difference. It’s also provided me some time to reflect while focusing on family, work and giving back to the community.
It’s the latter that brought me to MTV five years ago – reinventing our iconic brands and transforming our business, while doing some good in the world with you all, my work family. As many of you know, I started my career at the Muppets and then went on to be the first woman CMO in professional sports at MLB. The thing I love about our group – is how it marries the heart and soul of the Muppets with the teamwork and passion to win of sports. It’s for all these reasons that this next part is so hard to share.
Over the last few months, I’ve been speaking to Chris about finding the right time to transition out of my role for two reasons: the first being the transformational work we have done together over the last five years is near complete. The second is that we are all living through a unique moment in time – and for me, that means my whole family is living under one roof again. It’s because of these two reasons that I want to take this time to spend with my family and to assess what the next challenge is for me to take on. This was a very hard decision, but I had to listen to my heart. When I look back at what we have done together and how much you’ve inspired me, I couldn’t be more proud and humbled — we have come so far.
Five years ago, MTV was a channel in a very challenged state. Today we the Entertainment and Youth portfolio reaching more young audiences than anyone else. Here comes the proud moment where thanks to you all, we have the #1 shows on every major platform (Netflix, YouTube, Cable.) We have the #1 in every genre on cable today – with the #1 drama with Yellowstone at Paramount Network, the #1 competition reality with MTV’s The Challenge, #1 animation with South Park on Comedy Central and the multiple Emmy award-winning RuPaul’s Drag Race on VH1. Plus, our global digital and social prowess is second to none. What you have built is unique and special – we don’t just have fans, we have super fans – 750M of them in fact. And that is why the VMAs is the #1 most social entertainment event of 2020, The Daily Show is the #1 most engaged late night show and VH1 is the #1 most social cable network for reality programming. Plus, we have won our share of awards from Emmys to Shortys, the Purpose Awards to Webby Awards and most recently when our team was recognized by Adweek as the #1 Media Plan of the Year. Your passion, creativity and drive are truly inspiring.
I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about what we did together that has inspired my soul. Together, we have leveraged the enormous reach of our brands across platforms to create important social impact campaigns including #AloneTogether and Vote For Your Life. You have stepped up during the most challenging of times and your compassion, empathy and steadfast commitment to help make real change in the world fills me with pride.
Chris has been incredible throughout and I will stay on through the end of the year to help with the transition as he looks to bring in a new CMO who can partner with all of you. He will be talking to you in the coming weeks about the interim org.
Please know how grateful I am – I will always be rooting for you!