Silver Pixels V Fireside Chat with Sony Pictures Entertainment’s Elias Plishner
For those of us in attendance and those streaming the Hollywood In Pixels’ 5th Silver Pixel Awards on Thursday, 10/21/21, who were left wanting MORE of the Fireside Chat with Silver Pixel Honoree Elias Plishner…look no further!
Elias Plishner — EVP, Worldwide Digital Marketing and Data Analytics, Sony Pictures Entertainment
Interviewed by Jen Prince — Global VP and Head of Content Partnerships, Twitter
Jen’s Introductory Speech
I have the pleasure of introducing an extraordinary digital-first partner of mine for nearly 20 years … who is “kind,” a Hollywood digital marketing maven, and a person many of us genuinely call “a friend.”
I met Elias Plishner when he worked on the Sony Pictures business at UM back in the early 2000s — and this was after learning of him for years. Elias was an early digital marketer — doing firsts and creating noise in the industry. Elias led exceptional creative and digital work for Sony Pictures, all while being young in his career and rising up within UM for a decade.
He did so well supporting and leading the Sony Pictures business that he got snagged and hired by Dwight Caines to run Digital Marketing at Sony Pictures. Pivoting Elias into a dedicated asset at Sony Pictures said a lot.
Years later at Sony Pictures, Elias is Executive Vice President, Worldwide Digital Marketing & Data Analytics and successfully leads a global team.
Elias has now worked on over 400 Sony Pictures marketing campaigns — having impact on movie goers, film makers, fans, platforms, media partners and peer movie studios.
Elias has innovated, collaborated, and done the impossible impressing Sony leadership, his peers, and all of us who partnered with him over the years.
Elias hasn’t only been creative in marketing his movies, but has also been creative organizationally in the way he leads and structures teams. He broke the mold bringing some three party disciplines in-house, generating even more output for the business. And his dedication to leadership and management of his teams has had an everlasting impact on others.
And Elias is NO stranger to recognition in the industry…
Elias has been recognized in the ThinkLA Digital Marketing “Hall of Fame,” The AAF’s Advertising Hall of Achievement & Jack Avrett Volunteer Spirit Award. Variety Magazine named Elias a Hollywood New Leader in Film, he joined the Academy, and he made it into the Variety Digital Marketing “Impact Report.”
And now….. the Hollywood in Pixels Silver Pixel Award, which is the icing on the cake.
It’s Elias’s focus on creativity and innovation that is so meaningful to the industry at large and where his work has been in the spotlight, and now archived forever.
Elias’s words exactly about finding the joy in the work that he does: “There is no better feeling than seeing a Spider-Man movie for the first time.”
Elias — You are a gem. A kind man in Hollywood always lifting others up. You have taught so many of us how to be better — and you are always the level-voice in the room. You are creative and innovative … and we ALL celebrate you today as a Silver Pixel Award winner!
ELIAS: Thank you, Jen — I can’t tell you how much I appreciate those kind words!
First I wanted to start with a few thank yous:
I want to start by thanking everyone for coming out to the event last week. I know it was a long time in the making, and it was no easy task to get out (and get tested), so thanks for that.
Second, I want to give a huge shout out for Bettina and her Hollywood In Pixels team for everything that they have done for this industry. It’s incredible. Also, I’m thrilled to get to see Don Buckley, who I’ve learned a ton from in my career, and Lauren Menno who I got to meet at the event and was very impressed with her work.
Third, I have an incredible group of people at Sony Pictures who I get to work with every-day. BOTTOM LINE, they are the reason why I’m here today.
Finally, to my wife who is easily the most supportive and amazing person I know.
JEN: The Silver Pixel Awards have traditionally celebrated innovation in digital marketing, but it seems strange to talk about innovation over the last 18 months when the industry has gone through so much change. How has the last year and a half changed the way your organization operates?
ELIAS: I think there has certainly been shifts in our industry when it comes to the Production and the Distribution of our movies and series.
For Marketing, we have prided ourselves on being a very nimble and flexible marketing team over the last year and a half. Venom: Let There Be Carnage is probably the best example of this, with a movie that moved up to an earlier release date at the height of our campaign, which was no easy task and the results speak for themselves.
Finally, for our employees, easily most of my time has been spent with the team, and I have spent a lot of time focused on remote working, communication and employee development. All of this has changed the way that we work over the pandemic, and many of it will be adopted in our approach to managing our teams moving forward.
JEN: Is good leadership undervalued in our business? What are the most important values you demonstrate as a leader? Why is leadership so important to you?
ELIAS: Honestly, it’s completely undervalued. It’s important to me because we are a marketing organization. We trade in human capital — we’re not building machines. We’re only as good as our employees are. And frankly, we owe it to ourselves and the company to develop our own talent.
I focus a lot on leadership because it’s important to me, and I know it’s important to our team.
JEN: How have you changed your approach to leadership and management especially given recent circumstances?
ELIAS: To be honest with you, it probably made me focus a lot more on it. Over the last 19 months, a lot of my time has been staff-related. We went through another major reorg as a marketing team, which was announced last October. We got everyone up to speed on remote-working. We worked across all different parts of our studio, and frankly the larger Sony company. I spend most of my week with either individual 1:1 meetings or group check-ins to see how everyone is doing. We even implemented Virtual Friday Happy Hour, which we have done since the pandemic began, to connect as an entire group.
I’m so proud of our team, who under very extreme circumstances, over-performed all expectations. They are quite simply the best at what they do.
JEN: I know you are proud of the people you have worked with over the years, many of whom are probably here tonight. What have these people, past and present, meant to you?
ELIAS: It’s the best feeling to see someone you worked with in the past, who is now in an incredibly large position. There are countless people you can point to who are currently leading their own teams and kicking major butt.
I guess that’s another reason why it’s so important to focus on staff development. Everyone will not be working with you forever (I wish they were), but it’s your obligation to keep progressing their career in whatever way possible.
JEN: I know several people have helped you along the way in your development as a marketer and as an industry leader. Is there anything you would like to say to these people? Who do you look to today for inspiration?
ELIAS: I’ve been very lucky to have mentors in my life. Dwight Caines, in particular, is someone I worked with for 17 years at UM and then at Sony Pictures. He gave me my shot as a studio executive and then promoted me to run the department when he became the head of marketing. I’ve learned a ton from him on how to be a better marketer and frankly how to be a better person.
To Jen Prince, I consider you to be much more than a colleague — you are a close personal friend and someone who I’ve always asked for advice from. I think we have both given and taken a lot of advice from each other.
Finally, I really get a ton of advice and support from my wife. She and my kids are easily my biggest inspiration!
JEN: What’s one practical piece of advice that you give younger members of your team? What has helped you get to where you are, and what advice would you have for others who want to set off in a similar direction?
ELIAS: Since they will be in leadership positions VERY soon, I thought I would give some advice on things to think about when they are called to the task.
- Set boundaries — It’s ok to say no
- Be a student and a teacher when it comes to your company and industry
- Develop your staff — They are your most important asset
- Seek support, especially from trusted advocates
- Be reasonable and be nice
Thank you so much, Elias and Jen, for sharing your full Fireside Chat with us!—Hollywood In Pixels