Case ID: 400036     Author: Robert Lee Price $ 45

Taran Swan at Nickelodeon Latin America Case Study

Solution ID: 35877     Words: 1282

Taran Swan at Nickelodeon Latin America Abstract

Taran Swan, group pioneer of Latin America Nickelodeon dispatch confronted opposing feelings as her specialist proposed to take bed rest for whatever is left of her pregnancy period. Her visionary style of administration persuaded her that her group would work perfectly even in her nonappearance. In any case study, there were various dangers joined with her interim removal. Imperative undertakings of Nickelodeon in Argentina and Brazil are offering test to Swan. Forthcoming ventures will turn out to be a breakthrough ever. Subsequently, Swan must be wary about her future activity arrangement.

Grieder: looked to take over as executive producer (had same position with Asian music channel). -Donna Friedman: No specific role given to her, but she was enthusiastic (albeit single-minded). (Later, it turns out many, if not all of Swan's staff had some LA descent.)  Working with Corporate Approval 

September 1996, got corporate approval. 

Swan got a 2-year contract to stay on. Chosen by Jeff Dunn, COO, and Tom Hunter, Pres. Of MTV Latin America (LA). Swan's Strengths:

-Wrote business plan

-Extensive experience with Nick brand

-Successfully launched another channel

-Warm, competent and personable 

Swan's weaknesses:

-Lack of experience leading a larger organization and on-going P&L -Did not speak Spanish fluently

-No previous experience in LA 

Swan was excited for the opportunity but had to be based out of Miami. Her husband was in NY, so she would commute every other weekend. Staff came on shortly after. Swan used "big bets" to get people she liked and fought for them. She wanted to foster a multidisciplinary team so that everyone was well-rounded. Also sought set Tuesday morning executive team meetings as a forum for communication and consensus building. Encouraged people to question each other and cc'ed people on emails. 

Grieder used this mantra to create stellar spots. He shared creative ownership with his team and was protective of them. 

Counting Down to Channel Launch 

Much to do, and Swan on top of it. Intensely questioned her staff which took some getting used to. Swan's pet peeve was if someone wasn't thinking strategically. Couldn't just do the job, needed to use your brain on the task at hand. 


Swan needed to find the right person to head marketing. 

McCarty: proactive, business savvy and had natural leadership skills. Friedman: had creative and multidimensional thinking. 

Swan made them co-VPs of marketing. McCarty had advertising and affiliate sales experience, while Friedman was the creative one. Neither had much previous marketing or mgmt experience and both had to commute (McCarty-Arkansas, Friedman-NY). Both worked together well. Checked in with each other for big decisions. Swan and McCarty made another "big bet" in developing the brand. Friedman headed up Nick en Vivo (Nickelodeon Live, a show) and McCarty managed Ayuda a tu Mundo (Help your world, a consumer campaign). Creative materials and direct mailing campaigns also went out, and they worked with the sales depts to ensure strength of brand was being maintained. 

Advertising Sales Problem 

Attracting advertisers was difficult, and program integration prevalent in LA (program characters often promoted things). Direct response commercials were common with phone # displayed for kids to call, which was debated by the executive team. Lack of progress so sales team reorganized in 1997. Swan selected Janet Byrne of MTV as VP Advertising Sales. She reported to Harry Neuhaus, VP Advertising Sales of MTV. They didn't get along and Swan had to play referee with them. Byrne was not detailed, inconsistent and had a bad temper. Neuhaus split time between Nick LA and MTV, and learned that Swan was probing until she trusted you. 

Affiliate Sales 

Big affiliate deals were not coming through (the one with Cablevision/TCI) and people were frustrated. Staff learned from Swan to question about it, esp Rita Herring, Sr. Director of Aff. Sales, and she disliked that. Swan told her to be upfront at meetings, even with bad news. Swan was very encouraging to her staff, as mentioned by Herring's direct report Peirluigi Gazzolo.  The Bottom Line Swan hired Rey del Valle in 1997 as head of finance. He was from FedEx and had no previous entertainment experience. She wanted someone with business skills, even though he did not have ent. experience. She fought for him and got him to come on. del Valle liked that she was excited to see him.

He was not accustomed to the "big bets" strategy and questioned spending patterns a lot. Swan had to explain and work with him to grow accustomed to the style. VP of Research Rebecca Bearden liked Swan's probing insight into people. Research department did stuff like give LA kids cameras to take pictures of their lives. 

Read More

Excel Calculations

Questions Covered

1. What grade would you give Taran Swan for her leadership of the Nick Latin America initiative?

2. How would you describe her leadership approach?

3. What does she do best? What, if any, weaknesses do you see?

4. What are the most important challenges she faces at the end of the case? What should she do about them? Should she appoint someone as interim?