Meet Viacom’s Nine 2017 Cynopsis Rising Stars

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

They work in marketing, communications, programming, or gaming. They’re planted around the organization, helping to drive some of our most prominent networks and divisions: MTV, Nickelodeon, BET, CMT, TV Land, VH1, Logo, Viacom Velocity. And though some have been here for years, they’re all just getting started in promising careers. They are the nine young Viacom standouts who earned recognition as Cynopsis 2017 Rising Stars.

This year’s awards follow a strong 2016 showing for Viacom, when six employees across a variety of brands were acknowledged. The nine honorees this year are Kelly Andersen, Ned Berger, Katrina Bucu, Rachel Burns, Kassie Deng, Marisa Mazart, Brielle Urssery, Jacqueline Vinci and Alexandra Woog.

Cynopsis will honor these young standouts at a reception on September 15 in New York City. Here’s a bit more about how each of them is forging their career at Viacom:

KELLY ANDERSEN – MANAGER, COMMUNICATIONS FOR MTV, VH1 AND LOGO

What she does: My days tend to include writing press releases, communicating with media outlets and escorting network talent to press appearances.

Tenure: Six years

On being named a Cynopsis Rising Star:  My coworkers had secretly submitted me so I thought it was a spam email and I almost deleted it.

What helps her fit Cynopsis’ description of a rising star as someone who has “proven success in aligning strategic objectives with end goals?”: I’m passionate about the work we are doing at MTV, VH1 and Logo, and with so many exciting things coming down the line, organization is key. I like to write everything down and map out a timeline to reach publicity goals for each series.

What is the most exciting thing happening with her team right now?: We are all prepping for VMAs!

What she is most looking forward to about the awards reception: I have no idea what to expect so I am just happy to be there!


NED BERGER – DIRECTOR, CONSUMER MARKETING, NICKELODEON

What he does: I’m with the Consumer Marketing department at Nickelodeon where I’m responsible for marketing for our tentpole events, including overarching strategy, off-channel execution, influencer marketing, content partnerships, and innovation projects.

Tenure: Four years

On being named a Cynopsis Rising Star: I was thrilled to find out I would be receiving the award. To be recognized by my bosses and by Cynopsis for the work that I do is a real honor.  

What helps him fit Cynopsis’ description of a rising star as someone who has “proven success in aligning strategic objectives with end goals?”: A big part of my job is being a brand steward. Nickelodeon is an incredibly strong brand and I work to provide kids with creative and fun ways to experience the brand. Our tentpole events (like Kids’ Choice Awards) truly bring the Nick brand to life, and the marketing of those events brings together brand strategy, creative innovation, and business goals.

What is the most exciting thing happening with his team right now?: We are going to be part of the team working on The Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the newest version of our animated series. We’re all excited to work on such an iconic property and to be part of its reinvention for a new generation of fans.

What he is most looking forward to about the awards reception: I’m most looking forward to meeting bright talent from around the media and entertainment industries and forging new connections and relationships.


KATRINA BUCU – MANAGER, INTEGRATED MARKETING, VIACOM VELOCITY

What she does: I strategically develop and pitch multi-platform, integrated marketing programs across MTV, VH1 and Logo aligned to tentpoles, programming and editorial initiatives in order to drive advertising revenue.

Tenure: Since I graduated from college a little over five years ago. I like to say I’m Viacom born and raised.

On being named a Cynopsis Rising Star: It was such a great way to start the week on Monday morning and I immediately told my friends and family! I was honored that my team had nominated me for this award and it’s an amazing feeling to have your work recognized, not only by your team, but by the industry.

What helps her fit Cynopsis’ description of a rising star as someone who has “proven success in aligning strategic objectives with end goals?”: Key parts of Integrated Marketing include storytelling, negotiation and organization. In this role, I have been able to craft a marketing story that sells big ideas both internally and externally as the concepts need to match the objectives of the channel and brand to create an organic fit, building client relationships for key partners like Taco Bell, P&G and more.

What is the most exciting thing happening with her team right now?: The return of TRL! It was a key program during my teenage years. I’m excited for how it will be reinvented for today’s generation and how we can weave our advertising partners into the pop-culture platform.

What she is most looking forward to about the awards reception: I’m excited to celebrate with my fellow Viacom Velocity peers as they’re all deserving of this honor and it has been a pleasure to work alongside them. I’m also looking forward to meeting the other honorees and to learn from our shared passions and successes.


RACHEL BURNS – COORDINATOR, INTEGRATED MARKETING – CMT AND TV LAND

What she does: I ideate, pitch, and execute multi-platform integrated marketing programs for major advertisers that leverage CMT and TV Land properties, including tentpole events, original programming, and branded content franchises.

Tenure: Almost two years

On being named a Cynopsis Rising Star: I was thrilled! I feel incredibly honored to have been nominated by my amazing team.

What helps her fit Cynopsis’ description of a rising star as someone who has “proven success in aligning strategic objectives with end goals?”: The toughest and most rewarding part of my position is to create campaigns that simultaneously advance the channels’ strategic vision, achieve our partners’ desired outcome, and resonate with our fanbase. To accomplish this, I develop a plan of action for each piece of content within a campaign, ensuring that it has a specific purpose and is designed with the end game in mind.

What is the most exciting thing happening with her team right now?: We’re fresh off the 2017 CMT Music Awards, where we partnered with our sponsors to create a multi-day festival experience for our social-savvy audience. CMT took over Nashville with on-the-ground activations for many of our major advertisers (including Pepsi and Bar-S), as well as free fan events for CMT Crossroads and Daybreaker. We’re already working to make the 2018 CMTMAs even bigger and better.

What she is most looking forward to about the awards reception: I’m most excited to learn more about the other honorees and to celebrate the rising talent in the industry.


KASSIE DENG – DIRECTOR MARKETING & PARTNER INSIGHTS, VIACOM

What she does: In Marketing and Partner Insights, I support sales-related initiatives with research and insights to help clients understand the value of our brands, our audiences, and our ability to connect with our fans. In September I’m actually making a move over to the channel side to do consumer insights on the Spike/TV Land/CMT research team, so I’m excited to work on a different side of the business.

Tenure: Almost six years…aka my entire career (How’s that for debunking the flighty millennial stereotype?!)

On being named a Cynopsis Rising Star: I was on vacation when the news came out and had no clue my team had nominated me, so it was a mix of shocked/confused/ecstatic/honored/excited/blessed/is this real life? I didn’t see this coming and was really touched that they thought I was worthy and put in the effort to nominate me…it means a lot!

What helps her fit Cynopsis’ description of a rising star as someone who has “proven success in aligning strategic objectives with end goals?”: My passion has always been consumer insights. Here at Viacom our data and insights have proven to be a differentiator in the marketplace, so our clients often turn to us to understand what’s going on in youth culture and how to best connect with millennials/gen Z. I quickly saw the value of consumer insights in driving the industry and strengthening client relationships, so I established myself as a team go-to for information on youth trends and related insights.

What is the most exciting thing happening with her team right now?: On Marketing and Partner Insights, I’m most excited about a new study we just completed in partnership with Velocity on the future landscape of fame, which gets into celebs, social influencers, and everyone in between. On my new team, Spike is about to rebrand into the Paramount Network so everything that goes into making that happen is super exciting to me.

What she is most looking forward to about the awards reception: Celebrating with my teammates who’ve taught me everything I know, my loved ones, the fellow Viacom Rising Stars, and all the other inspiring young people in our industry. Number one will always be making my parents proud.


MARISA MAZART – GAMES PRODUCER, NICKELODEON WEB GAMES

What she does: I produce and lead all web games assigned to me in our pipeline. I ideate and pitch game ideas, and work closely with our game developers and with marketing, show production and programming as well as other departments to make sure our games are maintaining Nickelodeon’s vision and brand.

Tenure: Almost three years

On being named a Cynopsis Rising Star: I was super excited, my manager won one in the past and I am happy to display mine right next to hers!

What helps her fit Cynopsis’ description of a rising star as someone who has “proven success in aligning strategic objectives with end goals?”: I feel really inspired by the people I work with and believe that communication and collaboration is key to achieve any goal.

What is the most exciting thing happening with her team right now?: Working on games that not only kids play in the U.S., but even working on games that get localized and played all around the world.

What she is most looking forward to about the awards reception: Getting to know other rising stars!


BRIELLE URSSERY – SENIOR MANAGER, PROGRAM PLANNING & SCHEDULING, BET

What she does: I collaborate with various departments companywide with tasks that range from strategizing the scheduling of all original series and award shows, acquiring content, developing unique launch plans for BET’s iconic properties, and integrating linear programs with multi-platform initiatives.

Tenure: Almost five years

On being named a Cynopsis Rising Star: After reading the email I immediately called my Mom in L.A. She was definitely more excited than I was.

What helps her fit Cynopsis’ description of a rising star as someone who has “proven success in aligning strategic objectives with end goals?”: For the past year, I’ve been hyper-focused on developing programming plans that implement multi-platform strategies and initiatives targeting millennials at a time when the landscape of content consumption is changing. The team and I saw a lot of success with marathons and programming stunts centered on music.

What is the most exciting thing happening with her team right now?: My team and I are gearing up for the five new shows and two award shows launching next quarter. We’re so excited to collaborate with artists and comedians such as 50 Cent, Gucci Mane and Deon Cole.

What she is most looking forward to about the awards reception: I’m looking forward to celebrating this honor with my team. They’ve been such an instrumental part of my professional growth and I look forward to sharing this moment with them.


JACQUELINE VINCI – MANAGER, INTEGRATED MARKETING, MUSIC – VH1 AND LOGO

What she does: As Manager for VH1/Logo Integrated Marketing, I work on many executions for different sponsors. My job is to work as the liaison between client, sales, channel, and other departments to ensure the best program is put together. Working alongside the Pitch team, I help shape what the program will be from start to finish, and fully handle them once items go into execution.

Tenure: Six years

On being named a Cynopsis Rising Star: Super surprised. It was really nice to know my team felt I qualified for this award.

What helps her fit Cynopsis’ description of a rising star as someone who has “proven success in aligning strategic objectives with end goals?”: I have worked really hard to help build programs that make sense for different screens. I think thinking strategically for each platform has given my campaigns a really good chance to succeed, since we are targeting a different user/use for each, and so the content needs to speak to all.

What is the most exciting thing happening with her team right now?: We have had many changes as a team the past year. Our team was first structured as two parts, linear and digital.  We have now shifted to allow all of us to be 360 and complete programs from both a linear and digital perspective. I think that helps all of us to grow and understand the true nature of our work which is to create programs that makes sense for different screens. Sometimes it’s one, and sometimes it’s many.

What she is most looking forward to about the awards reception: Meeting all the other honorees. It’s an exciting time to be a part of this industry and will be great to hear what everyone works on and learn from each other.


ALEXANDRA WOOG – MANAGER, MARKETING AND BRANDED CONTENT, VIACOM VELOCITY

What she does: Our team develops multi-platform multi-channel integrated marketing campaigns for upcoming film releases across MTV, VH1, Logo, Comedy Central, and Spike. I’m focused on the digital/social media side so we promote movies on Facebook to Snapchat and everything in between.

Tenure: Four years and a little change

On being named a Cynopsis Rising Star: I was surprised and so honored! It definitely made way for a great Monday.

What helps her fit Cynopsis’ description of a rising star as someone who has “proven success in aligning strategic objectives with end goals?”: I love movies, TV and social media, so when developing campaigns I’m always thinking about how the fan would react to seeing it and if it’s something I would share (and not because our team produced it). I have an agency background so I’m also always finding ways to innovate and be the first to bring a new opportunity to our clients that’s never been done before.

What is the most exciting thing happening with her team right now?: With the influx of new shows and talent across the Viacom portfolio, our team is always finding ways to pair our channels with upcoming studio releases. This year, we developed a franchise with Snoop Dogg where he reviews movies that we’ve dubbed Snoop’s Hot Box Office. It was a dream come true to collaborate with Tha Doggfather (one of my favorite rap artists/human beings). The third in the series is launching this fall in support of Kingsman: The Golden Circle and I can’t wait to get it out there!

What she is most looking forward to about the awards reception: Celebrating with my family, friends, and fellow peers. I’m an East Coast native and the ceremony happens to fall in my birthday week so I’m excited to share in all the fun with everyone. I’m also looking forward to getting to know the other nominees and sharing in this achievement with them.

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