Where is the CMO in Newell Rubbermaid's Re-org?

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Where is the CMO in Newell Rubbermaid's Re-org?
Where is the CMO in Newell Rubbermaid's Re-org?

Last week, as Newell Rubbermaid President and CEO Michael Polk was announcing his company's reorganization as a “bold step critical to unlocking growth,” he was also revealing a bold change in the role of the company's chief marketing officer.  Namely, that there no longer was one as many industry insiders define it: a company's chief marketer, who oversees all marketing strategy and activities and reports directly to the CEO.

Ted Woehrle, who came to Newell from P&G five years ago, won't be around to help lead the company's new direction. His function will be covered by two Unilever veterans: Mark Tarchetti, ex-head of Global Corporate Strategy for the Netherlands-based packaged goods giant and Richard Davies, who led Unilever's Global Insights effort in 50 countries.

As Chief Development Officer, Tarchetti will oversee one half of Newell's new corporate structure, the Development Organization that will incorporate marketing, insight, design, research & development, and corporate development. Davies will serve the division as Chief Marketing and Insights Officer. The other half, the Delivery Organization, encompasses general management, sales, customer channels, and supply chain. “The shorthand way to look at this is that Development will be responsible for putting forth our best ideas and Delivery will be responsible for commercializing them,” says David Doolittle, spokesperson for Newell Rubbermaid, which in addition to Rubbermaid, markets brands including Sharpie, Levolor, Goody, and Calphalon.

But is Newell also taking a new look at the role of the CMO, one that departs from recent trends that have the head marketer assuming a larger role in the organization, reporting to the CEO in an effort to imbue customer-centricity across all disciplines? In Newell's revised configuration, Davies reports to Tarchetti and neither have full control of how products are deployed in the field. COO William Burke, as head of the Delivery Organization, oversees channel marketing.

“It all makes sense to put value chain, supply chain, and customer channel under delivery. The question is, if you're going to take a holistic view of the marketplace, to what degree are these two groups going to interact?” says Donovan Neale-May, executive director of The CMO Council.  “When you think about product lifecycle management, it's collaborate to innovate.”

Another way to look at Newell's reorganization is that it puts chief marketers in a position to influence the creative direction of a company by meshing their efforts with those of other internal units dedicated to innovation and incremental growth. “I think it all comes down to the importance of the chief marketer being connected internally,” says Larry Levy, CEO of Appinions, a company that tracks the influence of people in media. Appinions announced its list of the Five Most Influential CMOs at a dinner during the recent meeting of the Association of National Advertisers and Levy noted that the conversation at his table pointed up the fact that the role of today's chief marketer is hardly settled.

“There was a lot of discussion of internal versus external roles,” he says. “You had some marketers saying, ‘I don't have to influence anyone outside the organization,' and then you had the other side of the table saying they are out there with their brands trying to connect with people. It's a business world in flux and, as a result, a position in flux.”

It remains to be seen how the marketing function will shake out until after the new hires assume their roles at year's end. Clearly, Newell is signaling it will look abroad for growth in bringing on Tarchetti and Davies, both of whom have extensive international experience. The move also may signal a shift in the consumer marketing muse at Newell, from P&G to Unilever. “This structure has been used by other consumer products companies successfully,” notes Doolittle. “One of them being Unilever.”

Much of what transpires under Newell's “two pillars” of development and delivery is sure to bear the mark of Tarchetti, whose consulting company helped forge the revamped business strategy over the past year, according to the press release announcing the move.

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