If you’re wondering how Shark Week managed to swim back into pop culture dominance in 2013, thank  Discovery’s SVP, Marketing Lara Richardson, who continues to stand out from the pack—or perhaps the school in this case. Richardson’s introduction of “Snuffy the Seal” as the unfortunate Shark Week mascot (it didn’t end well) supercharged the franchise, resulting in record ratings and massive social media engagement. Meanwhile, Richardson smartly used Snuffy to launch Skywire Live, which snagged a whopping 21 million viewers unsure whether Nic Wallenda would meet a similar fate as he tightrope walked across the Grand Canyon (thankfully, he fared better than Snuffy). Richardson also forged 25 partnerships that included new relationships with big brands like Cold Stone Creamery, USA Today and Great Clips, increasing impression levels seven fold. Our only question is how she’ll top herself in 2014. We’re guessing she’s already got a plan.

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Programming

Giana De Laurentiis signed a new exclusive deal with Food Network. She’ll continue to produce and host content for both the network and discovery+. Her latest endeavor, “Simply Giada,” premieres Jan. 9

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