Viacom’s Philip O’Ferrall: ‘We need tech guys and girls’ | M&M Global

Viacom’s Philip O’Ferrall: ‘We need tech guys and girls’

Viacom International senior vice president Philip O’Ferrall bravely took to the stage on the first day of the Festival of Media Global in Rome, despite a broken leg, for a fireside chat with C Squared managing director Jeremy King.


O’Ferrall stressed that Viacom is a multimedia content owner and publisher with a fully embracive approach to all platforms and a focus on bringing programming from the theatrical in to the real world, whether in the format of a soft toy, a theme park, a theatre show or a movie.

He also expressed that something that has underlined multimedia consumption is multiple story arcs in every bit of storytelling, as opposed to the traditional cliff-hanger ending. “The same ingredients are needed now,” he said. ”We need five to 10 things to happen in a show, to make sure that conversation and FOMO is happening on our channels.

“What excited me was when I started to see what I’ve just described happening in period drama, I got very excited about Downton Abbey. In the beginning, it would hand over to next week with someone pregnant – then it was just in the first half boom big reveal, big reveal, big reveal!”

O’Ferrall felt that Viacom’s international network of channels posed its own challenges compared to those faced by individual channels and brands. However, he was tackling this challenge through the wisdom of crowds and seeking out influencers across the entire portfolio.

With this in mind, the question for Viacom has been around how to attract the right talent.

“We have thousands of people in digital, evolving from being in a separate part of business but now fully immersed. We need tech guys and girls – it’s about being inclusive in programming content,” he said.

“Now everyone knows how to do this stuff but it’s applying it with great technology partners,” added O’Ferrall. “The key is bringing in tech and don’t be frightened of it, partnering with the right organisations and using their best bit of kit but ultimately we are the storytellers. We have to come up with great global characters.”

Anna Dobbie


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