Thomas Cook picks former BT boss as brand director

Thomas Cooks marketing team is once more in upheaval with the appointment of former BT and Abbey executive Michael Johnson as brand director.

thomas%20cookThomas Cook’s marketing team is once more in upheaval with the appointment of former BT and Abbey executive Michael Johnson as brand director.

Johnson is a former colleague of Thomas Cook group strategy director Angus Porter from his days at Abbey and BT.

At the same time, ad agency The Red Brick Road, which has been talking to Thomas Cook for some months about marketing assignments, has decided not to pursue further dialogue.

Johnson has been recruited to work at group level at Thomas Cook, but is expected to help oversee the UK marketing team, working with Simon Robinson, managing director of sales.

Former head of channel marketing Jonathan Smith has now left Thomas Cook, although the company says his departure is coincidental. Executive director of marketing Simon Carter left the travel company last September.

Johnson, an Australian, is a former director of new ventures for BT Retail and marketing director for Orange in Australia. He joined BT in 2001 and reported to Porter, then the managing director for BT’s consumer division.

Porter moved on to Abbey to take the position of customer proposition director, and Johnson followed in 2005 to take the role of cash director at the building society.

Regarding agency relationships, The Red Brick Road managing partner Paul Hammersley says: “We have decided to withdraw from further conversations with Thomas Cook because we believe those conversations should be about long-term relationships and not short-term projects.”

Thomas Cook currently uses Company of Angels for its advertising. The agency recently worked on the January campaign that reintroduced the slogan “Don’t just book it, Thomas Cook it” alongside a full customer refund pledge, should a Thomas Cook holiday supplier fail. However, Thomas Cook has been talking to other agencies.

The campaign was devised in response to a decline in consumer confidence, following some high-profile company collapses that have left holiday-makers stranded.

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