Wal-Mart Shifts CMO Fleming

BOSTON Wal-Mart said it has moved John Fleming from chief marketing officer to director of the company’s merchandising operations.

Stephen Quinn has been promoted to evp, chief marketing officer, replacing Fleming. Quinn joined the company in 2005 as senior vice president of marketing. Before coming to Wal-Mart he spent 13 years at the Frito-Lay division of PepsiCo, including a stint as CMO.

In a statement, Wal-Mart said the move was made to better align its merchants with key product areas. Fleming had led the marketing department for two years. His strong retail background makes him a good fit for merchandising, the company said.

Fleming’s new title is chief merchandising officer. His departure from the marketing ranks had been anticipated following the conclusion less than two weeks ago of Wal-Mart’s often unruly repitch of its estimated $570 million ad account.

In the second Wal-Mart contest, Interpublic Group’s The Martin Agency in Richmond, Va., added creative chores, while Publicis Groupe’s MediaVest in New York won media duties. Wal-Mart becomes Martin’s largest client.

Those shops succeeded IPG’s DraftFCB in Chicago and Aegis Group’s Carat in New York, which won Wal-Mart’s creative and media, respectively, following a review that finished last October.

DraftFCB was stripped of the high-profile business amid considerable turmoil and was not eligible to participate in the second review. Carat participated in the second review but lost out to MediaVest.

The Bentonville, Ark., retailer in December abruptly dismissed DraftFCB, following the departure of two key client marketing executives: Julie Roehm and Sean Womack. Sources said the pair had violated the company’s policy on accepting gratuities from potential vendors [Adweek Online, Dec. 11].

Before she left, Roehm had attempted to push Wal-Mart’s advertising in a hipper new direction. Recent efforts focused on fashion, selection and convenience, rather than low prices.

There has been an especially high degree of churn lately among corporate CMOs. In addition to Fleming, execs at Coca-Cola, ConAgra, the Gap and Volkswagen have either departed or announced their exits since the year began.