He will oversee all aspects of the company’s creative and business marketing, overseeing print and audio-visual advertising as well as graphic and product design.
Gail Harrison, who has been CMO since December 2018, and prior to that was president of marketing and branding at the animation studio, is stepping down and will be a special advisor to Illumination and Meledandri. Harrison built and led Illumination’s marketing team over the past decade and steered campaigns for major titles like the Despicable Me/Minions franchise, Sing and The Secret Life of Pets. Through its financing and distribution partnership with Universal, Illumination has two major releases in the months ahead: Minions: The Rise of Gru in July and Sing 2 in December.
Bergen’s background includes executive stints at Beats by Dr. Dre, Vice Media and Omnicom.
“Sam’s global brand experience combined with his commitment to creating original work that blurs the lines between marketing and content make him the perfect person to lead this team as we continue to build our globally-recognized franchises,” Illumination founder and CEO Chris Meledandri said in the official announcement.
Bergen called Illumination “a case study in innovation and storytelling” and said he has “long been inspired by Chris’s ability to tell such globally impactful stories.”
Of Harrison, Meledandri added, “Gail has spent the last decade helping me take Illumination’s visual aesthetic and translate it beyond the movie screen. She is one of the most creative and innovative executives I know and I look forward to continuing our collaboration. Her new role will allow her to dive more deeply into projects that will define the evolution of our company.”
Bergen was most recently VP of global brand creative at the Apple-owned Beats. He was responsible for driving how the Beats brand showed up in markets across all channels around the world. He led the creative development of four product launches, including the brand’s new flagship, Powerbeats Pro.
At Vice, Bergen was hired to build the West Coast creative offering. His roles included executive creative director of developing programs for digital, mobile and TV channels as well as managing director of Virtue, the company’s creative agency. Before Vice, Bergen was Chief Creative Officer for Omnicom’s bespoke agency created for McDonald’s, We Are Unlimited.