Top Marketer Exits Delta

ATLANTA Paul Matsen, executive vice president of marketing at Delta Air Lines, left the company yesterday as part of a management restructuring at the struggling carrier.

Matsen, 46, was responsible for supervising sales, marketing, pricing and distribution at the Atlanta-based company. He will not be replaced, according to a memo issued to employees yesterday by the company’s CEO, Gerald Grinstein. His duties are being transferred to Jim Whitehurst, the company’s chief operating officer.

Matsen introduced Delta’s SimpliFares program and the “Good goes around” advertising theme that the bankrupt airline has been using for the past year. Sources said the company plans to drop the campaign.

He joined the company in 1994 and worked in a variety of marketing and advertising capacities. Matsen was one of seven executives that Grinstein promoted when he left the company’s board of directors to become its CEO in 2004.

Matsen led a 2004 agency search that awarded the account to WPP Group’s Ogilvy & Mather. The New York shop launched the brand transformation with the “Good goes around” campaign in January 2005 and tried to rekindle Delta’s heritage of customer service. Measured media spending last year jumped to more than $70 million compared to $50 million during 2004, per TNS Media Intelligence.

Delta filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last September and began a management restructuring plan to eliminate about 1,000 jobs that would save the company $200 million annually. Matsen is the high-ranking company official to leave since the plan was announced. According to the company’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, his salary was $405,000 last year.

Matsen could not be reached for comment.