One of Stephen McPherson's chief lieutenants is following him out the door -- Mike Benson, executive vice president of marketing for ABC Entertainment Group.
This comes on the heels of a decision by McPherson in July to leave as president of ABC Entertainment Group after six years. Paul Lee, president of ABC Family, took over McPherson's position -- just before the Television Critics Association meeting was about to be held in Los Angeles.
At that time, Lee said few changes were likely to be made by him -- given the short time frame before the start of the new season. Many summer marketing efforts for the fall shows were already running.
"Paul decided to go in a different direction; and Mike is stepping down," said an ABC spokeswoman. But ABC said its other executive vice president of marketing, Marla Provencio, will continue in her role, reporting to Lee.
Benson had been a 12-year veteran at ABC, coming to the network from VH1 in 1998 as senior vice president of advertising and promotion for ABC.
In 2007, he -- and Provencio -- were promoted to the titles of executive vice president of marketing at ABC Entertainment. Benson helped lead the marketing launch of some of ABC's biggest hits, including "Modern Family," "Desperate Housewives," "Lost," "Ugly Betty" and "Grey's Anatomy."
Benson -- with strong direction from McPherson -- was influential in shifting marketing dollars to a couple of ABC shows in a given season, instead of distributing resources more evenly to all shows. This gave some new shows traction they wouldn't normally have had, according to TV marketers.