Major Moves in Marketing = Agency Change
Steve’s breakdown: The fact that Walmart brought in an outsider as their top marketing executive makes us believe an agency change is on the horizon.
BENTONVILLE, AR & HOBOKEN, NJ: Walmart has named a new U.S. chief customer officer and a new chief marketing officer, both women recruited from the outside, in a major departure for the giant retailer, which has never previously had a female chief marketer or one recruited directly into the position from outside.
Janey Whiteside will join Walmart on Aug. 1 in the newly created role of chief customer officer, to be based in Hoboken, N.J., site of Walmart’s Jet.com unit, according to a memo to employees from U.S. CEO Greg Foran and U.S. E-Commerce CEO Marc Lore. Whiteside, a 2017 Ad Age Woman to Watch, is a 20-year veteran of American Express, where she was most recently executive vice president and general manager of global premium products and benefits. She’ll report jointly to Foran and Lore.
Barbara Messing will join Whiteside’s team as CMO in mid-August. Messing is now CMO at TripAdvisor, where she was part of a team that led its transition from a media-only site into a trip-booking e-commerce player. Messing, who will be based at Walmart’s Bentonville, Arkansas, global headquarters, will lead marketing for both Walmart stores and its San Bruno, Calif.-based e-commerce operations.
In the new chief customer officer post, Whiteside will “play a critical role looking after our brand and thinking through the customer journey—from acquiring new customers to their shopping experience and resolving any issues they may have,” Foran and Lore said in the memo. They cited her “respect for the Walmart brand and belief in our core mission” as well as experience expanding AmEx into new areas and “connecting with younger customers.”
Both moves come after current Walmart U.S. CMO Tony Rogers announced last month that he’s moving to the newly created role of chief customer officer at the company’s Sam’s Club chain at the end of July. Foran and Lore said they expect Messing to “continue the momentum” for Walmart stores under Rogers, which has gone from flat or declining same-store sales to rising growth over the past two years, with double-digit e-commerce growth.
Kirsten Evans, senior VP of corporate marketing, who was seen as a leading internal candidate to replace Rogers, will be taking on a new, yet-to-be-announced role with Walmart’s international business, according to the memo.
While Walmart has brought in many marketers from outside over the years, none have stepped immediately into the top U.S. marketing job. The closest to that was John Fleming, a Target alum who became CMO of Walmart U.S. after more than four years heading Walmart e-commerce operations. He left in 2010 following a leadership change to former Walmart U.S. CEO Bill Simon and after a tumultuous period as chief merchandising officer, where he led an effort to take Walmart’s image and stores more upscale.
Rogers and his predecessor Stephen Quinn both came to Walmart from PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay unit, but ascended to the top marketing post only after years in the retailer’s marketing organization.