Obit: MGM Marketing Executive Sortito, Dead At 49

Movie marketing executive Karen Sortito, known for groundbreaking multimillion dollar product marketing deals for a number of James Bond movies in the 1990s, died Monday of cancer. She was 49.

As executive vice president of worldwide promotions for MGM/UA, Sortito struck major product placement, broad-reaching entertainment marketing deals -- in what is now called branded entertainment -- with BMW, Visa, Heineken, and others, for a number of theatrical movies.

In particular, her deals with BMW were the first of their kind. For the new "GoldenEye" movie in 1995, the new James Bond, Pierce Brosnan, drove a brand new BMW Z3 -- usurping Bond's previous all-around favorite car in the 1960s Bond movies, the Aston-Martin.

The major multimillion-dollar deal with BMW yielded major advertising support for the movie -- tying the content of the movie to TV commercials. Executives say those individual car deals gave the studio some $10 million to $15 million in media dollars per movie. Other studios would follow with major media automotive-film deals for big theatrical movies -- as well as expanding into other ad categories.



Other Bond movies went further, featuring Brosnan in character for tie-in movie commercials for Visa. More major movie actors would follow Brosnan's move, to stir marketing support for movies by working closely with marketers.

Brandweek named Sortito entertainment marketer of the year in 1998.

Before MGM, Sortito worked at MTV Network, also in marketing, helping to establish the cable brand. Sortito also held executive marketing positions at Paramount Pictures and Morgan Creek Productions. In 2002, she became executive vice president of worldwide marketing for Spyglass Entertainment, working on "Bruce Almighty" and "Seabiscuit."

For the last three years, she was general manager-entertainment for NYC & Co., the marketing partnership agency for New York.

She is survived by her mother, Phyllis Sortito, and sisters Mary Sortito and Diane Ritucci, her brother-in-law Louis Ritucci and two nephews. Memorial services will be held in New York and Los Angeles.

Next story loading loading..