Coke’s Heyer Joins Starwood as CEO

BOSTON Starwood Hotels & Resorts today named former Coca-Cola president, COO Steven Heyer its CEO.

Heyer, 52, takes the post on Oct. 1 and will succeed company founder Barry Sternlicht, who will assume the position of executive chairman and chief design officer. The move had been expected [Adweek Online, Aug. 13].

Interpublic Group’s Deutsch in New York, handles the ad accounts of Starwood’s Westin and Sheraton brands, for which combined media spending totals $70 million a year, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus. IPG’s Avrett Free Ginsberg, Omnicom’s Merkley + Partners Interactive, aQuantive’s Avenue A and independent Razorfish are among the corporation’s roster shops. Starwood is based in White Plains, N.Y.

“Steve embodies all that we were searching for in a new CEO,” said Sternlicht in a statement. “He is a seasoned operator with vast corporate experience on a global scale across multiple consumer businesses. He is a marketer who has championed some of the world’s most valuable and global brands. He is an innovator who conceived, crafted and cultivated countless new products and partnerships over his career.”

“Starwood has clearly positioned itself as the innovator in the hotel industry and has made fantastic strides to distinguish its brands and speak to its customers in a unique and meaningful way,” said Heyer in a statement.

Heyer announced his departure from Coke in June, after the Atlanta company named Neville Isdell CEO, a position Heyer was said to have wanted. During Heyer’s reign, in February 2003, WPP Group’s Berlin Cameron/Red Cell was assigned Coke Classic. The client spent $100 million last year on its flagship Coke Classic brand.

Prior to joining Coke, Heyer was president and COO of Turner Broadcasting and a member of AOL Time Warner’s operating committee. During his tenure at Turner, Heyer was instrumental in launching 14 cable networks and led the effort to expand Turner’s Internet presence, introducing 19 Web sites for its CNN, Cartoon Network and its Turner Classic Movie brands in various languages.

Previously, Heyer was president and COO of WPP agency Young & Rubicam in New York, where he was responsible for Y&R’s operations worldwide.