What Coca-Cola’s new CMO means for its marketing

Coca-Cola describes its incoming chief marketing officer Marcos De Quinto as someone with ‘marketing in his DNA’ but it is his “operational expertise” the business will be looking to instil a more disciplined approach to marketing investments.

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He replaces Joe Tripodi, who is retiring after seven years in the role, at a time when Coke has a steep hill to climb against flagging sales.

The performance of marketing took its fair share of the blame for the company’s recent woes with chairman and chief executive Muhtar Kent telling analysts this week that poor “marketing execution” did nothing to drive demand in key markets in its latest quarter.

In addition to a five-point marketing plan outlined at the start of the year to improve performance, Coke is putting marketers are under stricture cost control measures to seek out better value from their investments. De Quinto’s broader business experience could make the cultural transition smoother.

European success

Through his leadership as president of the company’s Iberian business since 2000, De Quinto has transformed the market into one of its top centers for marketing excellence. He took Tripodi’s emphasis on creating rich content, managing conversations in real time, and investing in experiential and digital marketing and was able to translate those investments into successes that helped cement the Spain and Portugal as two of the most profitable markets in Europe, according to Coke.

De Quinto is also vice president of its pan-European steering group. He has held several marketing roles including marketing director of Coca-Cola Germany and division marketing manager for its Southeast and West Asia division in a career spanning 32 years. It is this wider understanding of cultural shifts across Europe that Coke will look to mine after it bemoaned “soft” demand across the region for denting summer sales.

Better performing marketing

In 2013, he helped steer Coca-Cola Spain’s big budget “Magic Pill” campaign, which is said to have buoyed the brand’s standing in the eyes of health-conscious drinkers. The drinks maker also developed “Smile World”, an Instagram-style branded application that has supported its wider marketing activity under De Quinto’s stewardship. It launched in 2012 when Instagram was not well known in Spain and was seen as a way to foster loyalty among teenagers amid growing competition.

Operational expertise

What sets De Quinto apart from his predecessor are the general management roles he has performed in Singapore and Malaysia. His operational experience appears to be what swayed Kent and the rest of the Coke board to appoint him to the role. “Although Marcos’ DNA is that of a marketer, he has held a number of leadership roles throughout his career and he will bring a global view with a strong operational experience to this key role”, said Kent.

De Quinto presided over Coke’s merger last year with seven Spanish bottling partners to create the Coca-Cola Iberian Partners Business for Spain and Portugal. The drinks maker believes having one unified bottler for a priority region will improve its ability to meet the need of retail and restaurant customers. At the time, Coke said it would look to export the model to other markets and combine the “strength of a global company with territorial strength of bottling partners”.

Kent highlighted the need to extend the more balanced approach to local and global operations to its marketing earlier this week. On a conference call with analysts he said: “In Sparkling as outlined earlier this year, we will continue to work to improve the quality of our marketing and scale our global investments through a network marketing model to improve topline growth across trademark Coca Cola, Fanta and Sprite.”

At a time when Coke is pushing to make investments across the business work harder, De Quinto will walk tightrope between continuing the company’s tradition of creative marketing and making brand initiatives more commercially attuned.