Fiona Carter, AT&T’s chief brand and advertising officer, will be departing the telecommunications company on June 26 to pursue other opportunities after nearly five years serving in her role.
In an internal memo attributed to AT&T Communications CEO Jeff McElfresh and first reported by Axios, McElfresh said Carter encouraged the marketing and advertising department to “look at [AT&T’s] brand positioning in powerful new ways and created initiatives that helped us connect with [AT&T’s] audiences differently.”
With a robust annual advertising budget of over $5 billion—one of the largest in the U.S.—Carter worked to ensure that AT&T’s brand storytelling was more diversified and representative of the company’s customers and employees. AT&T became the first advertiser to incorporate the Association of National Advertisers’ Gender Equality Measure (a byproduct of the #SeeHer movement to improve the portrayal of women and girls in marketing by 20% in 2020), into its copywriting process.
Carter also implemented an internal Inclusion Playbook, with the goal of attaining an even gender split in casting and commercial production. By 2018, AT&T had already delivered on its commitment to positive depictions of women and girls, two years ahead of the ANA’s goal. A year later, Carter was named co-chair of #SeeHer, which has since expanded its mission to improve gender representation in TV and sports and is now aiming to have 80% of measured media bias-free by 2030.
In 2019, Adweek honored Carter as a Brand Genius, which is awarded to the top brand marketers in the industry, as well as naming her among our Women Trailblazers for her many strides in making both AT&T’s messaging and its workplace more equitable.
Prior to joining AT&T, Carter had served as chief operating officer of advertising, branding and research at Omnicom Group for a little over a year.
Days after Carter officially steps down from her position, AT&T’s newly appointed CEO, John Stankey, will begin his role on July 1. Her replacement has not been announced yet. As a result of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, AT&T’s advertising, theatrical and overall revenues took a hit in a bleak first quarter.
Adweek reached out for comment from AT&T, but had not received an answer by the time of publication.