Anime News Network reported that FUNimation parent company Group 1200 Products hired a new Executive Vice President. The company appointed former Universal Studios Home Entertainment senior vice president of strategic customer marketing Mike DuBoise as executive vice president and chief operating officer yesterday. DuBoise will serve under CEO Gen Fukunaga, and will be responsible for “strategic vision and leadership” the following:
- Business development
- Digital distribution
- Home video
- Creative services
- International sales
- Licensing departments
In addition, DuBoise will be responsible for “optimizing content consumption through key revenue streams such as theatrical distribution, SVOD, VOD, PPV, digital and physical Blu-ray and DVD.” DuBoise was quoted as follows:
There’s significant growth potential and value that can be created by fully leveraging the opportunities with FUNimation, Giant Ape Media and Group 1200 Products and our partners… People love movies and anime that have good stories at their core! We’re going to build a model that taps into innovative story tellers, takes full advantage of the digital revolution and delivers independent content that emotionally resonates with passionate fans.
Already, we’re seeing responses from social media and the like about how FUNimation is doomed, and how the company sold its soul for a slick Hollywood man. We’re hearing arguments about how “that HOLLYWOOD man” will hollow the company into some soulless husk that exists to bleed people dry at every turn. Personally, I can’t help but smirk a little at this idea.
I’m not arguing that nothing will change – that’s a fairly ludicrous assumption. Incoming executives will typically impose some alterations to the general day-to-day of a company to better suit their overall management style. However, unless there is a broad shake-up in the board of directors, or a respected veteran in the field taking the helm, these changes are often smaller in nature than people like to believe.
DuBoise’s appointment doesn’t’ strike me as remotely absurd, though, nor does it strike me as ill-fitted. A look at his LinkedIn profile shows that DuBoise oversaw “Universal’s movie category initiatives involving major retail partners, such as Walmart, Target, Best Buy, and others, ensuring that the category is effectively marketed and merchandised and consumer’s needs served through the right combination of product selection, stores, quantities, and promotional support.” In plain English, this means that he was the person who maintained contacts with major retailers, and saw that Universal’s products and promos received the best placement possible.
This means that he has, among other things, that DuBoise has had strong contact with the named retailers, and most assuredly has some contacts within each organization. In the corporate world, there’s a common joke that an executive is only as good as his rolodex. And, for a lot of industries, there is a grain of truth to the joke. In an entertainment-centric industry like film anime, who someone knows and how much clout he has is vital. If an executive has a direct in with Wal-Mart and Best Buy, that’s an immediate plus, as he could serve as a facilitator in negotiations for, among other things, stocking and promotional placement. Likewise, his experience in working with these retailers could give birth to promotional opportunities that had not existed previously.
I doubt that we’re going to be seeing major, earth-shattering changes in the FUNimation’s day-to-day operations with DuBoise’s appointment. Since he’s taking an executive role at Group 1200, it means that his attentionswill be split between operations at the home company, and overseeing both FUNimation and Giant Ape Media.
However, I wouldn’t be surprised if we do see some shifting in licensure and product positioning. Since one of his duties will be to “optimize content consumption,” this does imply that he will be taking steps to increase product uptake and sales. This does include sales and content analysis, as well as a hard look at, you guessed it, both customer and non-customer markets. To increase customer uptake, one has two options:
- Sell more product to the existing market
- Sell to new markets – blue oceans, if you may
While it’s challenging to perform option 1, I doubt that we’d be seeing the Group 1200 board pursue Universal Media execs if that was all they wanted. On the FUNimation end, I do expect to see initiatives to appeal to outside markets, as well as increasing sales of physical media, or subscriptions to the FUNimation channel. There will likely be initiatives to try to capture more than the core 13-25 age group. How this will happen remains to be seen. However, it will be interesting to see if any initiatives bear fruit.