El Rey Network Appoints Antoinette Alfonso Zel CEO
Antoinette Alfonso Zel
El Rey Network, the new general entertainment cable network geared towards young Americans that will launch at the end of next year, announced that its CEO is Antoinette Alfonso Zel. Zel brings to El Rey over 20 years of television, marketing and media experience, working with some of the industry's most renowned networks and brands including NBC, MTV Networks and various blue-chip clients while at her Latino-focused La Comunidad advertising agency.
"We are very excited to bring Antoinette onboard as El Rey's CEO," said iconic filmmaker and El Rey founder Robert Rodriguez. "Antoinette's remarkable track record in network management and her passion for youth culture and creative vision uniquely positions her to lead El Rey as it creates compelling images and inspiring stories that speak to America's young Latino and mainstream audiences."
"I am deeply honored to join El Rey, an independent network that will embrace a critical audience of young Americans, who will for the first time be part of a major brand and social entertainment network made for them and by them," said Zel. "There is no individual out there today who can create a brand like this with as much credibility and authenticity as Robert, and I'm privileged to be partnering with him, FactoryMade and the El Rey team to make a network come to life in a way that has never been done before."
A seasoned media executive, Zel has held multiple senior leadership positions in the industry, including Senior Executive Vice President for Network Strategy at NBC Universal's Telemundo Network, where she oversaw the broadcast network's marketing, digital and consumer research and ran all aspects of cable networks Mun2 and Telemundo Internacional. Zel also re-launched Mun2, the first bilingual cable network for young Latinos, where she turned around the struggling network in less than a year to showcase a more cutting edge appeal that attracted millions of new viewers, thus driving up profitability and ratings.
Prior to Telemundo, Zel spent 13 years as an executive at Viacom's MTV Networks, where she rose to President of MTV Networks Latin America and managed the vision, advertising, distribution and marketing operations for a portfolio of cable and digital networks which included MTV, VH1 and Nickelodeon in both Spanish and Portuguese for 22 countries in Latin America.
Zel comes to El Rey Network after four years as CEO, President and Partner at La Comunidad, an award-winning global independent advertising and creative agency, whose client roster has included Converse, Apple, Corona, Volvo, Disney, Citibank, Coca Cola, Best Buy and MTV, among others. She was instrumental in driving double-digit growth in revenue and profits for the agency and attracting and managing top-level talent across diverse categories for global brands in consumer packaged goods, media and entertainment, spirits, technology, retail, fashion and luxury automotive.
Alfonso Zel is a second-generation, bilingual Cuban-American with a law degree from Columbia Law School and an undergraduate degree from Tufts University. Zel has been recognized by ADCOLOR as the 2009 Change Agent of the Year, by Hollywood Reporter as one of 2007's "Top 25 Women in Entertainment", by Billboard Magazine as a 2007 Power Player, and by Advertising Age as a "Top 25 Women to Watch" in 2008.
In addition to Zel, El Rey also announced entertainment industry veteran Dave Cassaro as the head of the El Rey Launch Team. With decades of experience in the cable and advertising sales industry, Cassaro will spearhead a team of seasoned media executives to effectively communicate and collaborate with marketers, distributors and partners to aid in successfully launching El Rey. Cassaro was previously the President of Cable Advertising Sales at NBC Universal where he was responsible for cable entertainment and digital advertising sales for some of the company's biggest brands like USA and Bravo. Before that, he was President of Comcast Network Advertising Sales for national networks, including E!, The Style Network, G4, Golf Channel, Versus, PBS KIDS Sprout, as well as all new media and VOD properties. Prior to that, he was the VP of Eastern Sales for Fox Broadcasting Company and has served various affiliate and ad sales position at CBS.
"I am thrilled to join the El Rey team," said Dave Cassaro. "Having worked with marketing executives across a spectrum of consumer product categories, El Rey represents an invaluable opportunity to create unique advertising solutions that will reach two critical audience demographics: The coveted 18 to 34 year old adult and the Latino viewer."
"Antoinette and Dave's experiences in cable, digital, and advertising will enable El Rey to develop content and distribution solutions designed for today's ever-changing market and its desire to more effectively reach a growing and underserved population of US Hispanics and general audiences," said FactoryMade Ventures' CEO John Fogelman – Rodriguez' partners in El Rey. Cristina Patwa, President of FactoryMade Ventures added, "The powerful combination of Robert developing ground-breaking content for a loyal audience, Antoinette successfully operating an infrastructure for her fifth entrepreneurial effort, and Dave delivering multi-platform solutions for our partners will elevate and differentiate El Rey's offering in the media landscape."