Profile: Gordon Ho '91
of entertainment, packaged goods fertile ground for Gordon
his 13-year career at Buena Vista Home Entertainment, Gordon
Ho '91 has reached millions of people with his work on films
such as "Finding Nemo," "The Return of Jafar,"
"The Incredibles" and "The Lion King."
He has risen from assistant brand manager to executive vice
president of marketing and business development at the Disney
affiliate, thriving at the nexus of entertainment and packaged
a wonderful position to have this blend," he says. "Retailers
are trying to maximize the profitability of their space. If
a product isn't selling well, do you lower the price, do you
augment the product — all those questions we go through,
not unlike a packaged goods person. The challenge when launching
a movie is you really don't have a second chance."
goods marketers generally can test a product with a launch
in one or a handful of markets, Ho reflects. "You can't
do that with a big movie on DVD. We can't test launch 'Finding
Nemo' in a few cities. We have to launch it all at the same
time," he explains. As a result, he says there is more
variability from title to title in this business — a
dynamic that makes the job more exciting. "When you're
able to do 15, 20, 25 million units, it's amazing to think
about how many people you're touching," he says.
landing his position with help from Kellogg alum Denise Anker
'85, who was then director of marketing at the firm, Ho began
as assistant brand manager at Disney working on cartoons like
"Winnie the Pooh." He recalls, "We had all
these 'Winnie the Pooh' cartoons released for television and
realized we could create similar segmented product lines on
helped to create the direct-to-video Disney Premiere category
with the launch of "Return of Jafar," which he says
resulted in many other such releases. "That led to a
multibillion dollar business," he notes. "Families
do appreciate and love entertainment in theaters, but they
really liked the option to bring entertainment directly into
the home. It's convenient and a great value. It was something the kids wanted."
current position as executive vice president, to which he
was named in April, will involve leading product development
and acquisitions as well as development of new technology,
business and brand.
one is an increasing responsibility," he says of the
steps along the way, which have included director of marketing
for Buena Vista Games (formerly Disney Interactive) from 1996
to 1997, vice president of brand marketing from 2000 to 2002,
and senior vice president of marketing from 2002 until this
and more, you're relying on your teams to help you formulate
strategies," Ho says. "One of the most important
things is coming up with strategies that can be implemented
throughout the value chain. I work to establish priorities,
make sure my team has the resources they need to get their
work done, and always try to look for new product opportunities
and new marketing opportunities."
the always-stiff competition in the video industry, Ho says
he and his colleagues are continually exploring new ways to
reach the consumer, applying learnings from Buena Vista's
200 product launches a year to future efforts.
want their own personal product," he says. "Consumers
want choice. There used to be maybe one major title a month;
now there are 10 a week. We've had to figure out how to do
things quicker and more efficiently with the resources we
cites skills he learned at the Kellogg School, such as negotiations
and salesmanship, benchmarking against competition and meeting
management as keys to his success. "You may have a good
idea, but if you can't sell it, it just sits in limbo,"
he says. "I'm not so self-absorbed to think that we're
the only guys who have great ideas."
his most important skill, especially in the age of the Internet,
has been the ability to give consumers exactly what they want,
consumers being as powerful as they are, with the Internet
giving them all the information they want, with more ways
than ever for them to find out about your product, we have
to analyze all the methods of reaching them," he says.
"All of those decisions are being applied here at Buena
Vista in real time."