Economists anesthetized the impact of the developments by calling them 'an overdue marketplace correction.' But there's no softening the facts. Says Steve Gundersen, of the consulting firm Gundersen Brenner, 'There'll be a lot of casualties among marketing types.'
It was a week in which American Express' Jim Robinson tenuously retained his post, while IBM chairman John Akers and Westinghouse chief Paul Lego were both ousted. Meanwhile, Sears announced the closing of its catalogue division and 50,000 job cuts.
Gundersen, whose firm handles head-hunting for client marketers, said his phone has been ringing off the hook. 'You're always fearful that either the leader that kept his position or the 'savior' they hire to come in from the outside will start changing for change's sake.'
Despite the hardships caused by the upheavals, said former Grand Met USA chairman Walter Scott, now a professor at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Business, there can be some positives from new blood. 'An outsider will more likely challenge basic philosophies that got a company in trouble in the first place. The most successful turnarounds seem to be taking place where the person named to make changes doesn't have ownership of the previous management's decisions.'
Still, many marketers are nervous. 'Similar to the time of the 1980s mega-mergers, you try to take an attitude that you'll move clear ahead and prevail,' said Gundersen. 'But it's also a good time to get your resume together.'
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)