Building Brands, Thinking Big


Jennifer Dorian has always been a big-picture kind of person, which suits her well in her current position as senior vice president of strategy development for Turner Entertainment Networks and Turner Broadcasting System’s Animation, Young Adults & Kids Media (AYAKM) group.

Dorian serves as a strategic business and branding consultant for TBS, TNT, TCM and TruTV, and the AYAKM unit, which includes Cartoon Network, Adult Swim and Boomerang. She helps employees understand the current marketing environment, crafts strategic responses to keep ahead of the competition, maps out pipelines for programming and creates strategies for new platforms. In other words, she starts with the big picture and works through to the details.

“Even as a kid, I’ve always been better at looking at the big picture and then learning the details after that,” she said.

Dorian spends a good chunk of her day plugging in with the leadership of all the networks she works with to determine which challenges exist within each unit. She then helps in developing strategic responses to those challenges. That includes determining the right blend between original and acquired product, how to lure audiences, which platforms to exploit and how to do so successfully and profitably, among a slew of other issues.

“It’s very time-consuming,” she said. “Everyone is confronting change and everyone is trying to figure out to respond to that.”

One of the biggest issues affecting Dorian and her co-workers is finding the balance between being proactive or maintaining the status quo. When Dorian joined Turner in 2000, the programming side of cable was divided into two general segments: niche networks and broad-based entertainment services. TNT was lopped into the broad-based category, but the honchos at Turner wanted the network to distinguish itself without being labeled a “niche” network, for fear of alienating viewers. Dorian’s previous marketing experience at The Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo’s Pizza Hut unit came in handy as she helped craft and roll out the “TNT: We Know Drama” brand repositioning.

“TNT was already known for its drama series,” Dorian said. “So it wasn’t like we were redoing the network. But no one else was capitalizing on that concept. We were doing it the best and we just started letting people know that.”

Since the start of the “Drama” push, TNT has consistently ranked among the top networks in delivery of key adult demos and has raked in more dollars from advertisers. It closed the 2011 upfront ad-selling season up about 13% over 2010 totals, thanks in large part to the strong programming lineup and audience ratings.

Dorian also oversaw the 2004 creation and implementation of TBS’s “Very Funny” brand. The positioning proved enormously successful, with TBS consistently ranking as one of basic cable’s top five networks among young adults. Brandweek magazine honored Dorian with a Brand Builders award in 2006 on the strength of the TNT and TBS efforts. This year, WICT honors Dorian as one of its Women to Watch.

Before joining Turner, Dorian served as director of strategic services for sports and leisure at Coca-Cola, overseeing a portfolio of sponsorships, evaluating brand alignments and potential returns on investments. At Pizza Hut, she was manager of kids’ marketing.

At Turner, WICT noted, Dorian mentors other women through the Turner Women Today and TEN Mentoring programs. She serves on the board of the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau; the National Marketing Committee of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF; and the board of the PATH Foundation. In 2009, she was honored with the Horizon Award from WICT’s Atlanta (now Southeast) chapter.

Dorian is a graduate of the Betsy Magness Leadership Institute (Class 13) and, like most graduates, said the experience was a career catalyst.

“I met so many people who have helped me throughout my career through that class,” Dorian said. “One of the biggest things I learned was how to be ‘agentic,’ or the concept of being your own best agent. I learned more about self-awareness and how to look for opportunities. The whole experience was so valuable and I doubled down on my commitment to my career, my employer and the industry. This industry is ripe with opportunities.”