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CBS Marketing Department Seriously Impacted By Layoffs Amid Restructuring; 3 Senior-Level Veterans Exit – Update

Nellie Andreeva

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EXCLUSIVE, Updated with more information: Two days after the latest round of ViacomCBS post-merger layoffs, which was focused primarily on the entities within the CBS Entertainment Group, more details about the scope of the cuts are emerging.

One of the most impacted divisions was CBS Marketing, which saw 30-40 layoffs, I hear. That was almost 10% of all pink slips handed out on Wednesday, believed to be around 400. The list of departures included the three most senior CBS veterans in the department: Garen van de Beek, EVP and Creative Director, CBS Marketing, Lori Shefa, SVP and Creative Director, CBS Marketing, and Lesli Lawrence, SVP & Creative Director Print Advertising.

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Van de Beek had been at the network 21 years, Shefa – 23, Lawrence – 12. Along with EVP Marketing Anne O’Grady, who departed in March, they were key members of former Marketing President George Schweitzer’s team behind the marketing campaigns that helped CBS’ rise to the country’s most watched network.

This week’s layoffs are part of a reorganization of CBS’ marketing operations under Mike Benson, who was named President and Chief Marketing Office in September, succeeding Schweitzer.

He has been taking a new approach to the way marketing supports content across all CBS brands. As part of that, he has created new teams/units, such as Global Brand Strategy, Social Media, Brand Creative and Marketing Technology, and has brought in several new executives over the past several months: Ariel Parker as SVP, Global Brand Strategy, Greg Polcsa as VP Marketing Strategy and Eric Kuhn as SVP, Social Media Marketing.

A CBS spokesman would not comment beyond the statement the company released about the layoffs on Wednesday: “We are restructuring various operations at CBS as part our ongoing integration with Viacom, and to adapt to changes in our business, including those related to COVID-19. Our thoughts today are with our departing colleagues for their friendship, service and many important contributions to CBS.”

Van de Beek was promoted to EVP and Creative Director, CBS Marketing Group, and Shefa to SVP of On-Air Promotion for CBS in 2010.

Van de Beek led CBS’ Entertainment Advertising and Promotion group responsible for all creative and production elements of the network’s marketing for CBS Entertainment, including on-air promotion, print, cable, online, digital, outdoor and radio. He joined the CBS Marketing department in 1999 as Executive Director, On-Air Advertising and Promotion. He was promoted to VP, On-Air Advertising and Promotion in 2003, and was elevated to SVP, On-Air Advertising and Promotion in 2007.

Shefa spearheaded the conception and production of promotional campaigns and spots. She was VP of On-Air Promotion for CBS since 2004, after serving two years as VP of On-Air Promotion at UPN. She first joined CBS in 1997 as Director of Affiliate On-Air Promotion and served as Director, Station Promotion, West Coast, for the network from 1998 to 2002.

Both van de Beek and Shefa started their careers working for CBS affiliate stations in the 1990s.

Lawrence joined CBS as SVP and Creative Director of Print Advertising. She oversaw all print advertising campaigns for the network and CBS Interactive. Prior to that, Lawrence was SVP, Account Manager at Crew Creative Advertising, overseeing the creation of the key art for film clients such as Warner Bros., Sony Pictures, HBO and Focus Features. Prior to that, she was VP Print Creative Advertising, Fox Broadcasting.

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