A Major North American Reorganization at Coke Follows Wendy Clark’s Departure

2 senior execs to split marketing chores

Chief marketing officer Marcos de Quinto also left the soda giant in March.

A year of marketing changes at Coca-Cola was capped off today by a major North American reorganization. The shuffling of assets and executives comes a month after Wendy Clark, president of the beverage giant's sparkling drinks and strategic marketing operations, said she would leave for the North American CEO job at DDB Worldwide.

Coke, which detailed its moves in an internal memo, has created a USA Operations unit focused on its domestic beverage and food-service business as well as Minute Maid and Coca-Cola Canada.

Hendrik Steckhan, who was promoted from head of Coke's still beverages business, will lead USA Operations. Marketing chores will be split between two executives promoted to new roles. Stuart Kronauge will oversee branding, a mandate that covers Coke, Sprite, Glaceau and flavored drinks, as well as tea and coffee beverages. Ivan Pollard will helm strategic efforts including content, connections, investments and innovation.

"These changes capitalize on CCNA's leadership talent and better align our structure to our strategy and lines of business, facilitating improved execution going forward," wrote Sandy Douglas, president of Coca-Cola North America, in the memo. "These changes also reflect our continued focus on developing our people and accelerating execution and business momentum." Douglas maintains ultimate oversight of USA Operations.

In recent years, Coke has struggled with cultural trends against sugary beverages. In the third quarter, North American sales rose 1 percent, boosted by increased prices, but global revenue dropped 5 percent. By and large, ad efforts haven't significantly moved the needle.

The company spends more than $400 million annually on U.S. ads, per Kantar Media, while its global media outlay is estimated to be in excess of $3.3 billion. Key domestic agency partners include Ogilvy & Mather and Wieden + Kennedy.

In addition to Clark's departure and today's reorg, other recent changes at the company include Marcos de Quinto's promotion to chief marketing officer after the departure of Joe Tripodi. (The latter just landed at Subway.)

Over the summer, Coke named a trio of WPP shops—Ogilvy, Sra Rushmore and Santo—to create its next global campaign. Around the same time, Coke named Interpublic's UM its lead North American media partner.