Coke Marketing Chief Heading to DDB

Steve’s breakdown: Will she take the client with her? Possibly but the person who takes her place will surely have something to say about that. Check into it.

BTW: The Christmas creative via FITZCO//McCANN is pretty lame. Checkout the featured video.

ATLANTA, GA: Wendy Clark, Coca-Cola Co.’s North American marketing chief, is leaving the beverage giant to head advertising agency DDB Worldwide’s North American business.

DDB said the appointment is effective in January. Mark O’Brien, the current North American chief executive, will assume a new role as executive vice president at DDB’s parent company, Omnicom Group.

Coke didn’t immediately name a successor to Ms. Clark, who has held several senior marketing positions since joining the company in 2008.

Ms. Clark’s departure comes at a critical juncture for Atlanta-based Coke, which is struggling to jump-start growth after missing targets each of the last two years as soda consumption flags in the U.S. and elsewhere.

Coke has had a new chief marketing officer since January, when company veteran Marcos de Quinto replaced Joe Tripodi. The company is widely expected to replace or tweak its “Open Happiness” global marketing campaign, which was launched in 2009.

Ms. Clark took a leave of absence in January to advise Hillary Clinton on her presidential campaign, but returned to Coke in early April.

She has headed North American marketing since June 2014, after previously helping oversee global marketing efforts. Her formal title is President, Sparkling Brands and Strategic Marketing for Coca-Cola North America.

In a memo to Coke employees, Sandy Douglas, Coke’s head of North America, praised Ms. Clark for helping the company expand in social and digital media. He also credited her for helping with the global rollout of the popular “Share a Coke” marketing campaign in recent years and World Cup soccer advertising efforts last year.

Mr. Douglas added that Ms. Clark had built a “talented team and a deep bench” of marketers in North America and that her successor would be announced soon.

Senior marketing executives in North America include Ivan Pollard, Emmanuel Seuge, Andrew McMillin, Kimberly Paige and Caren Pasquale Seckler. Hendrik Steckhan, a highly regarded executive who runs Coke’s noncarbonated business in North America, also has marketing experience.

DDB Worldwide Chief Executive Chuck Brymer praised Ms. Clark as a “game-changer” and “a magnet for talent” in a news release announcing her appointment. The North American business is “in excellent health” thanks to Mr. O’Brien’s efforts, he added.

In an accompanying statement, Ms. Clark said it was a “privilege” working at Coke and that she is “excited” about joining DDB.

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