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The short and very lucrative career of one former Disney PR boss | CNN Business


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CNN
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Few top executives have ever failed in a job so quickly — or so lucratively — as Geoff Morrell.

He became Disney’s chief corporate affairs officer January 24, 2022, and the company promptly announced Morrell’s departure in late April.

Morrell made about $150,000 a day for that quick stint in charge of Disney’s public relations and governmental affairs team. The Wall Street Journal first reported details of his pay package last week.

Morrell received $8.3 million in salary and bonuses during his three months on the job and five months on the payroll, according to a Disney

(DIS)
filing last week. His last day was technically June 30, 2022.

That sum included $537,438 for relocating his family from London to take the job, as well as an additional $500,000 to “account for his unique circumstances” of having to relocate them once again upon his departure.

A person at Disney told CNN that he got about $2 million less than the $8.3 million compensation reported in the filing because some performance-based payments never vested, given his abbreviated employment.

But in an additional benefit not included in his compensation figures, Disney also purchased Morrell’s home that he had bought for $4.5 million — likely to cushion the blow from a softening housing market. The home had not sold as of October, and Disney will take the profit or loss on whatever price it receives for the home. Because Disney paid him his original purchase price, it is not listed as part of his compensation.

What’s more, Disney is buying out the rest of Morrell’s contract.

So he’ll receive an additional $4 million in the current fiscal year that ends October 1 to pay out the rest of his contract along with the target bonus he would have received for 2022. That $4 million will be in addition to the $8.3 million in compensation reported for last year.

So the compensation he will receive in total — adjusted for both the $2 million unvested performance bonus and the $4 million in payments yet to come — comes to $10.3 million.

Counting from his hiring until his departure in April, that’s about $148,000 a day if only weekdays are counted or $108,000 a day if he’s credited with working a seven-day week.

Morrell did not respond to a request for comment on his Disney pay package, and Disney declined to comment beyond the details in the filing.

Beyond the windfall, Morrell has landed another job since his departure from Disney: Earlier this month he was named president of the global strategy and communications unit of Teneo, a global CEO advisory firm.

Prior to his brief Disney tenure he had worked on the public relations staff for BP

(BP)
for 11 years, the last 17 months of which he served as executive vice president of public relations and advocacy. Before that he helped see BP

(BP)
through the Deepwater Horizon disaster and the resulting oil spill.

After he came to Disney, his new employer had its own PR disaster during Morrell’s brief tenure: Disney faced heavy criticism for its response to Florida’s so-called parental rights in education legislation, which critics dubbed the “don’t say gay” bill.

The law prohibits teaching about gender identity and sexual orientation through the third grade and limits materials that refer to those issues that can be made available to older children.

Disney, under its new CEO Bob Chapek, first tried to remain silent on the legislation but that angered a large group of Disney employees. Then, when Chapek eventually criticized it, he angered Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Republican-controlled Florida legislature who in turn moved to strip Disney of rights it had had for decades to essentially operate as an independent government around its Orlando-area theme park.

Morrell’s departure from Disney was announced within days of that dust-up.

Chapek held on longer but was fired by the Disney board in November, replaced by his predecessor Bob Iger in a surprising return.

Chapek also did well financially, receiving a severance package worth roughly $20 million, according to the same regulatory filing from last week, in addition to the $24 million he made last year — his $2.5 million base salary plus millions in stock options and awards. That’s down from the $32.5 million he made in 2021.

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