Wal-Mart Finds Successor for Departing CMO

By Erik Oster 

Stephen Quinn, who has served as Wal-Mart’s chief marketing officer since 2007, will retire in January at the end of the company’s fiscal year, The Wall Street Journal reports. His successor will be Michael Francis, currently chief global brand officer at DreamWorks animation. 

Before DreamWorks, Francis briefly served as CEO and founder of global brand agency Farview Associates, following nine months as president of JCPenney, where he oversaw marketing, merchandising, design and global sourcing. Before that, he spent nearly 27 years at Target, ultimately rising to the role of executive vice president, chief marketing officer, responsible for all marketing, communications and advertising operations.

“I’m committed to building on the strength of that brand, and I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity,” Francis said in a statement.

Wal-Mart executives told The Wall Street Journal that the retail chain is seeking to increase its appeal to middle- and upper-income household, which Francis was able to accomplish handily while with Target. “Globally we know growth will disproportionately come from middle- and upper-income households in the years ahead,” said CEO Doug McMillon during an October investor presentation. 

Wal-Mart currently works with The Martin Agency, among other agencies, with its media account handled by Publicis Groupe’s Starcom MediaVest. With the announcement of Francis as the new chief marketing officer, however, Wal-Mart, which spent an estimated $902.4 million on measured media in 2014, according to Kantar Media, the future of the company’s agency roster could now be in question. Francis worked with Wieden+Kennedy while CMO at Target, who ended their six-year relationship with the agency shortly following his departure.