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WarnerMedia Appoints Marketing Executive Polly Cochrane to Succeed Josh Berger in U.K. and Ireland (EXCLUSIVE)

Manori Ravindran
·3-min read

Polly Cochrane is set to succeed Josh Berger as head of the U.K. and Ireland for WarnerMedia, Variety can reveal.

Cochrane, who marks 11 years with the studio this year, currently serves as executive vice president and group marketing director for Warner Bros. UK and Ireland, and chief marketing officer for Harry Potter global franchise development.

Sources tell Variety that Cochrane’s new title will be country manager for WarnerMedia, with oversight of the U.K. and Ireland. In the new role, she will oversee all commercial and group marketing activities in the region.

Noticeably, Berger also oversaw Spain, but a strategy for this market is believed to be still in process. Similarly, it’s unclear how the studio will handle continued leadership of the Harry Potter global franchise development.

As a country manager, Cochrane is responsible for the development and execution of WarnerMedia’s strategy in the U.K. and Ireland and will oversee theatrical distribution, content licensing, home entertainment, consumer products, as well as ad sales and affiliate distribution for the WarnerMedia channels. She will work closely with leadership out of the U.S. and across Europe.

Cochrane — like all WarnerMedia country managers — will report into Priya Dogra, the recently promoted president for WarnerMedia Entertainment Networks for Europe, the Middle East and Africa and Asia-Pacific.

Cochrane joined Warner Bros. in April 2009 as vice president and group marketing director for Warner Bros. U.K. She was previously director of marketing at Channel 4, where she was responsible for the broadcaster’s on and off-air marketing. She oversaw a new brand identity for Channel 4, as well as the launches of channels More4, Film4 free-to-air, Channel 4+1 and 4oD.

Prior to Channel 4, Cochrane was head of advertising and promotions for the launch of ViacomCBS-backed broadcaster Channel 5.

Berger’s departure is a major shake-up for Warner Bros.’ U.K. operations. The veteran executive leaves the studio after 31 years, during which time he played an instrumental role in the acquisition of Leavesden Studios, a £100 million investment that was the first studio of its kind to be built in the U.K. and was the first in the country to be owned and operated by a Hollywood studio.

Warner Bros. has said that Berger will leave the studio in December, but is to stay on as an advisor to senior management until mid-2021 for the “Harry Potter” franchise.

Dogra said: “I’m delighted to welcome Polly to my leadership team. Polly brings a strong and inclusive leadership style, combined with a proven innovative approach to driving our beloved brands and franchises. As she takes on this broader set of responsibilities, our business will benefit from her wealth of experience in the U.K. media sector. I’m looking forward to tapping into the fresh thinking she will bring to the table.”

Cochrane’s colleagues on the WarnerMedia EMEA leadership team include recently promoted fellow country managers Iris Knobloch (France, Benelux, Germany, Austria and Switzerland), Barbara Salabè (Italy) and Pierre Branco (CEE, Nordics, the Middle East, Turkey and Africa) who is also head of affiliate and ad sales for EMEA.

Complementing the country managers are recently promoted heads of functions Hannes Heyelmann and Antony Root, who lead the general entertainment programming and original production remits, respectively. Rounding out the team, Pedro Cosa continues to lead data and insights for networks; and Lesley Bailey and Cecilia Persson continue their leadership of the central EMEA kids and young adults team, with a dual report to Dogra and Tom Ascheim, president of kids, young adults and classics for WarnerMedia.

The reorganization follows the announcement in August that WarnerMedia was bringing the international operations of Warner Bros., HBO and Turner under one leadership for the first time, with Gerhard Zeiler, to whom Dogra reports, named as head of WarnerMedia International.

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