NBCUniversal has hired Russell Hampton, a former top consumer products executive at the Walt Disney Co., to help bolster merchandising and mobile content strategies for the Comcast Corp.-owned media company.
Hampton, who until a year ago served as president of Disney Publishing Worldwide, steps into the newly created position of executive vice president of franchise management and global consumer products.
He becomes the second major hire of Lauren Zalaznick who earlier this year became digital innovation strategist for NBCUniversal Chief Executive Steve Burke. In February, Zalaznick hired Lori Conkling as executive vice president for strategy and business development.
Hampton spent about 17 years at Disney, the industry leader in brand management and consumer products. He left Disney in May 2012 after the company announced it was moving the publishing division's headquarters to the West Coast.
“Russell will unite our richest franchises across the portfolio and capitalize on them in the global licensing and merchandising arena," said Zalaznick, NBCUniversal executive vice president, who manages the Media Innovation and Cross Company Initiatives group.
Hampton will be tasked with developing a comprehensive strategy for licensing and merchandising efforts. He will coordinate across the company's sprawling units that include Universal Pictures, Universal theme parks, the NBC and Telemundo broadcast TV networks, 18 cable channels, including USA, Bravo and MSNBC, and dozens of digital properties.
NBCUniversal also wants to expand its audience of young children and families, and Hampton is expected to identify ways to do that.
At Disney, Hampton was a key member of the team that helped catapult the Burbank entertainment giant into digital publishing. He shepherded the Muppets brand after the puppets were acquired by Disney nine years ago. He also spearheaded the company’s entry into the educational market through the creation of Disney English, a chain of language learning schools in China.
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