We all know 20th Century Fox. But only a few chosen ones get to see behind the scenes. Vincent Marçais (E89) is one of those. He worked for 20 years for the famous film studio, experimenting the ups and downs of America’s film industry, which can be as rocky as the ground of Los Angeles. A portrait by Aurore Le Lorier Rougeot (E93).
After graduating from ESSEC, Vincent Marçais wanted to work in marketing and "see something of the world while working". His career with Fox - which began in 1991 after his coopération (national service internship) at Citroën in Brussels - met both objectives. He was taken on at first by CBS Fox in Paris, then moved to Los Angeles in 1997 to take care of Fox’s marketing catalogue, marketing the company’s film portfolio. There he met the director of the studio and convinced him not to give the rights for DVD format to Pioneer. The subsequent development of DVD sales quickly proved him right.
In 1999 he returned to France and took over the marketing of Fox Pathé Europa, a partnership for video distribution between the Fox, Pathé and Europa companies. It was the era of pure marketing and large budgets. DVD distribution had taken off and things moved quickly. Vincent Marçais and his team managed the release of Titanic on DVD. “We’d delivered five palettes of DVDs to each hypermarket in France. 3.5 million DVDs were sold in a week – a record! We than watched as Leonardo Di Caprio fever took hold!”
In 2002 he left Paris for London where he headed European marketing for 20th century Fox. He remembers a poignant moment when he donned his tuxedo to attend the James Bond première at the Royal Albert Hall in the presence of the Queen. Until 2006, Vincent Marçais coordinated the marketing managers of the seven European subsidiaries of the company, becoming an expert in managing multicultural teams.
After the closure of the regional office in London, Vincent Marçais moved back to Los Angeles and took up the role of international marketing manager. In 2012 he was named director of brand and digital customer marketing for the Home Entertainment division. 2012 was a symbolic year as it saw the gamble pay off on the marketing launch of Digital HD, “the new solution for having your own private film collection” he explains.
In addition to launch campaigns for video-on-demand (VOD) releases, Digital HD, DVD and Blu-ray, Vincent Marçais is responsible for marketing relations with Fox’s big clients such as Apple’s iTunes, GooglePlay, Amazon and Walmart.
The 24 years he has spent in marketing for Fox have flown by, firstly because the marketing function has changed so radically: “the basics are the same, but digital has revolutionized the profession with the emergence of digital formats and social media”. But also because marketing, along with the making of the film, is “the reactor core of a studio’s activity”.
Vincent Marçais loves the city of LA. “Los Angeles is one of those rare places in the world where you can work and be on holiday at the same time” he explains with a grin. Apart from the quality of life and the ideal climate, Vincent Marçais appreciates the contrasts of the city, the mix of artists and business, the blend of provincial and hipster. “It’s a city you have to get to know, to discover bit by bit, where you can basically choose the lifestyle you want.”
Since its début the film industry has drawn a huge range of skills and talents to Los Angeles. “Entertainment as a business has always given rise to a wide variety of professions, from actors to technicians via marketing and PR” he explains. For some time now Vincent Marçais has noticed a real renewal of the city with the development of “Silicon Beach”, which attracts tech-based companies driven by the entertainment sector.
When he looks back on his career, Vincent Marçais believes ESSEC prepared him well for working life. “I’ve always considered ESSEC a less traditional business school than its counterparts, with an interesting student body and diverse profiles.” He has positive memories of his studies, particularly the time spent with the association ESSEC Direct Services. He took advantage of opportunities after his studies by being geographically mobile, always willing to take on a new job and to learn “as much as I can from all my bosses”.