‘Make Sure the Messaging Makes Sense’: Jamie Epstein’s Path To Marketing Success and Peppa Pig
When Jamie Epstein, BBA ’09, graduated, she was eager to return to her New York City roots and launch a high-flying career in marketing. In the worst economy since the Great Depression, the job market looked bleak. Yet she built a formidable skill set that would eventually pay off: Today she is the Director of Marketing, Family Brands for North America at Hasbro/Entertainment One.
Epstein’s success demonstrates the power of being flexible, following your passion, and applying a Michigan Ross education in the real world — and it may offer a ray of hope for grads beginning their careers during the COVID-19 pandemic economy.
“I was interviewing for roles and I would get to the fourth and final round, where it would be between me and someone else,” Epstein said of her post-graduation experience. “And who was this other person? Someone who had just been laid off, with at least two years’ experience, who was willing to take an entry-level job at an entry-level salary. The company would end up choosing them because they were going to have less of a learning curve. That’s what I was told multiple times. So, it was a really tricky start, but I knew my efforts would eventually pay off.”
A career path with an unexpected twist
Ultimately, Epstein accepted a position as a strategic media planner with MediaVest (now Spark Foundry), working on the Walmart account in the entertainment and children’s segments. While it wasn’t her dream job, the experience set her up to pursue subsequent opportunities that paired her passion for marketing with her love of entertainment.
She hopscotched through jobs with organizations including consulting firm Marketing Evolution, Broadway advertising agency Serino Coyne, the Madison Square Garden Company, and Nickelodeon. In these roles, Epstein mastered market research and data analytics, the creative process, family entertainment, and brand management. She learned to determine whether a media flight was more effective four weeks out from a premiere date versus six, how to ensure the colors of an ad proof were just right, and how to create a sense of urgency in marketing messaging to increase ticket sales.
Epstein knew she wanted an in-house brand management position where her previous skills could be utilized and her work would make an impact. She was considering her next career move when she went to the movies with her mom for Mother’s Day. Before their film began, the Entertainment One logo flashed across the screen and sparked Epstein’s curiosity.
“Entertainment One, why do I know that?” Epstein thought to herself. In a happy coincidence, she realized the eOne logo was part of a PJ Masks Live banner ad she had previously worked on while at Madison Square Garden.
“I later went on their (Entertainment One) website and thought to myself, ‘Oh wow! I had no idea they had film, music, and television divisions, and owned all these prominent family brands! They own PJ Masks and Peppa Pig? What?!’” Epstein exclaimed, her eyes widening as she recalled the memory. “I happened to go on their careers tab and my current role was open. I applied and the rest is history.”
The power of reciprocity
Today, as the Director of Marketing, Family Brands for North America at Hasbro/Entertainment One, Epstein manages a multimillion budget and leads a growing brand marketing team. Her team oversees all U.S. and Canadian marketing, strategic planning, and partner development to support brands including Peppa Pig, PJ Masks, My Little Pony, Transformers, Power Rangers, and Ricky Zoom, to name a few.
“I love what I do because I have a passion for entertainment and marketing, especially in the family space,” Epstein said. “I know a job is a great fit when I am able to combine my personal passion with my professional passion and skills for entertainment marketing.
“Working on any family brand puts you in an interesting position because you have to follow all COPPA-compliant rules and not engage kids directly; instead, you’re talking to the parents, the caregivers, the grandparents, who are from all different generations with varying consumption habits. You’re then figuring out how to make sure the messaging is clear and consistent and makes sense for your target audience.”
Epstein said she uses what she learned from Michigan Ross Professor Wayne Baker’s management and organizations course on a daily basis, especially his lessons about reciprocity and the power of asking your network for help.
“I’m currently hiring for a couple roles and have people reaching out to me. Referrals are welcome,” Epstein said. “When I was looking for a job, I was the one reaching out. Now, it’s my turn to try to help others. I always want to pay it forward.”
Epstein said the benefits from her Ross business school education are evident day in and day out.
“Ever since graduation, I’ve been in New York City, and I have loved going to the Ross alumni events and staying in touch with everyone,” she said. “You don’t know who those people now know. They’ll be willing to help because we’re Ross family; it’s the Michigan way. I’m the kind of person, if I see someone across the street wearing anything Michigan (hat, sweatshirt, etc.), I’m screaming, Go Blue! That feeling of camaraderie, I can’t get enough of it.”