Sony Pictures Combines Internal Units to Go After Outside Clients

Sony Pictures Entertainment aims to go after outside clients for digital marketing business with the launch of a full-service interactive agency. The new Imageworks Interactive will work on both in-studio projects as well as serving clients outside the Sony collective, providing services such as Web site and mobile development, CRM, digital marketing strategy, and Web research.

The California-based agency has been formed by pairing Sony Pictures Digital Entertainment’s marketing and production team with the division’s digital production and animation studio Imageworks. The new group will go by the Imageworks Interactive moniker.

Long-time marketing and production team head and newly-named SVP of Imageworks Interactive Emmanuelle Borde describes the shift as a natural evolution of the in-house unit. “With our growth we have to adjust to some organizational change on a regular basis,” she said, noting, “The benefit of the Imageworks integration is mostly for infrastructure and processes.”

The mission of serving outside clients in addition to only doing internal Sony projects could have the added benefit of keeping employees satisfied and stimulated through added diversity of their work.

“The market for the past few years has really been picking up and we want to make sure we offer something more than other companies,” said Borde. She’ll lead the agency’s online and mobile creative, production, marketing, technology, and product development work for clients.

The agency is in talks with possible non-Sony clients, and the marketing and production team already has done work for one before joining with Imageworks. The group built the site for animated sci-fi series “Afterworld,” from Stan Rogow Productions. There’s a Sony connection, however, since the international rights to the series were purchased by Sony Pictures Television International.

The digital division’s marketing and production group has already developed thousands of Web sites and global digital efforts for Sony films like “Spider-Man” and “Stuart Little,” as well as TV shows including “Wheel of Fortune” and “The Boondocks.” In addition, the group created the site, which serves as a cohesive Web home for all Sony Pictures Entertainment film, TV, and game properties. The site offers video and other television-related content, links to trailers for current and upcoming movies, and features mobile games, wallpapers and ringtones associated with Sony productions.

In terms of attracting new outside clients, said Borde, “We want to do it in a really organic way. We don’t want to put in danger our relationship with internal clients.” She expects the agency will focus more on getting non-Sony clients next year, and said CPG advertisers will be a target market.

In its previous iteration, the marketing group has worked with other outside agencies on Sony projects, sometimes outsourcing things like site design or ad campaign development. “Even when work was outsourced… we still managed the process,” she said. Before ramping up an outside client base, there’s much hiring to do. At the moment, the agency is looking to add about 10 staffers, including a marketing VP and someone specializing in CRM and e-mail marketing. More recruitment will come in the next few months, added Borde.

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