Bill Hilary has run BBC America and Comedy Central, cable networks with edgy programming that leaves some sponsors nervous. Now, he’s joining an advertising agency to create content for its clients.
Hilary, most recently president of BCC America, last week was named president of Magna Global Entertainment, a production company owned by Interpublic Media that creates custom-branded programming for marketers’ specific needs, while also developing content independently for the common interest of multiple clients.
“I will be working on a wide range of projects, creating synergies between producers, advertisers and broadcasters,” Hilary said. “In advertising, there are a huge number of clients with vastly different target demographics and needs. The key is to fully understand their brands and develop ideas and allegiances which best suit their needs.”
Hillary, who will be based at the company’s New York headquarters, will also oversee international sales and develop new opportunities in the emerging media arena.
Magna Global’s original productions to date have included the six-time Emmy Award-winner Door to Door for Turner Network Television, a “Johnson & Johnson Spotlight Presentation,” as well as The Restaurant on NBC. Magna Global’s next J&J Spotlight, The Ron Clark Story with Matthew Perry, debuts on TNT Aug. 13.
Prior to joining BBC America in 2004, Hilary served for five years as executive vice president and general manager of Comedy Central. He played an integral role in creating such new series as Chappelle’s Show, Reno 911, Crank Yankers, Battlebots and Insomniac With Dave Atell, as well as sustaining The Daily Show With Jon Stewart and South Park.
Hilary acknowledged that it will involve “a very different discipline” working at Magna.
“Running Comedy Central and then BBC America has been very exciting, but the time has come for a new challenge,” he said. “Evolving the relationship between the creative process, advertisers and the new world of media distribution feels like an exciting new challenge.”
Hilary said he’s been involved in a wide variety of programs and channels in the United Kingdom and the United States.
“The large majority of these have been for primetime and were family-orientated, but I have also been responsible for creating younger shows and brands depending on the brief given,” he said.
Before BCC America and Comedy Central, Hilary was head of the Independent Commissioning Group for BBC TV. In that role he was responsible for buying all drama, reality, entertainment, comedy and documentaries from independent studios in the U.K.
Prior to the BBC, Hilary headed comedy and entertainment at Grenada TV.
“Bill Hilary brings an unrivaled breadth of experience to Magna’s Entertainment division,” Mark Rosenthal, chairman of Interpublic Media, said in a statement. “He is a quadruple-barrel talent. He knows analog and digital, broadcast and cable, and the domestic and international markets. He also has experience in creative and distribution sides of the business.”
Hilary’s final day at BBC America hasn’t been set yet, nor has his replacement. The network has a management team in place that can carry on day-to-day business, including general manager Kathyrn Mitchell.