Clorox Taps Coke Exec as CEO

BOSTON Donald Knauss, president and COO of Coca-Cola’s North American operations, has been named chairman and CEO of the Clorox Company.

Knauss, 55, succeeds Robert Matschullat, who had been Clorox’s interim chairman and CEO since March, when Gerald Johnston stepped down due to illness. Knauss takes over at Oakland, Calif.-based Clorox in October.

“Don has a depth of experience in the consumer products industry, and he is perfectly suited for Clorox in our drive to grow our business,” said Matschullat, in a statement. “Throughout his career, he has established himself as a change agent. Businesses have grown and flourished under his leadership, and he achieves results in a way that engages and brings the entire organization along with him.”

Coke has appointed J. Alexander “Sandy” Douglas, 45, as its new North American president. He had been a senior vice president and chief customer officer at the Atlanta-based beverage giant.

During his two-and-a-half years overseeing the North American division, Knauss was responsible for marketing, supply-chain operations, brand and new-product development and sales. Prior to that appointment, he held senior posts at Coke’s Minute Maid division. He had been at the company for 12 years.

He said, “Clorox has a legacy of strong leading brands, great marketing and smart, passionate people. The organization has done an extraordinary job building operational excellence. It has established seamless business processes and truly understands consumers, qualities that have been demonstrated by its innovation and brand-building record.”

Coke’s marketing has been in flux of late as the company struggles to compete against increased competition from energy drinks and other cola alternatives.

Last October, Coke chose independent Wieden + Kennedy to handle both a global “iconic” ad assignment as well as the company’s $200 million-plus North American Coke Classic account [Adweek Online, Oct. 26].

The resulting campaign, which is still running, welcomes consumers to “The Coke side of life.” The company has also attempted to diversify, rolling out new products such as coffee-flavored Coca-Cola Blak.

Coke’s North American division is its largest, tallying $6.7 billion in sales last year, about 30 percent of the company’s worldwide total.

Clorox’s overall 2006 sales were $4.6 billion, up 6 percent from the previous year. In addition to its namesake bleach offering, Clorox also manufactures Glad trash bags, Armor All auto products and Hidden Valley salad dressings, among others.

Omnicom Group-owned DDB in San Francisco is Clorox’s lead agency.

Clorox and Coke each spent about $500 million in domestic measured media last year, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus. In the first half of 2006, Clorox and Coke have respectively spent $270 million and $375 million on U.S. ads.