Wal-Mart Exec Tony Rogers to Join Idea City

New Hire a Big Believer in Purpose-Based Marketing

By Published on .

BATAVIA, Ohio (AdAge.com) -- GSD&M Idea City is landing its second high-profile marketing executive in as many weeks, as Wal-Mart Stores Senior VP-Advertising Tony Rogers prepares to join the agency in a yet-to-be-determined executive role.

Mr. Rogers, who followed the storied Julie Roehm into his current position at Wal-Mart, will join the Omnicom Group agency Aug. 11 in a role he described as part marketing and part new-business development, and a lot about "telling people the GSD&M story about purpose."

Stengel on board
Last week, Procter & Gamble Co. Global Marketing Officer Jim Stengel said he would work with GSD&M's Purpose Institute "as an advisor, and maybe something more at some point."

GSD&M Chairman-CEO Roy Spence is looking to spin what's now a department of the agency off into a stand-alone consultancy later this year, though it will remain part of GSD&M and Omnicom. The Institute is aimed at helping brands and businesses find their higher purpose and, as Mr. Stengel put it, "serve their consumers in ways that benefit everyone."

Mr. Rogers is joining GSD&M, the agency, but not the Purpose Institute -- at least not right away. But, he added, "anything is possible."

For the foreseeable future, starting next month, he plans to be talking a lot about the agency's core work, which is also about purpose-based branding. Mr. Rogers hired GSD&M when he was a marketing executive with PepsiCo's Frito-Lay in 2003, he said, because he was impressed by the agency's ability and willingness "to show me a brand and a business could stand for a something beyond just making money."

Symbolic snacking
In the case of Tostitos, he said, GSD&M moved the brand beyond just "being about parties" and "toward the togetherness that happens when people gather around a bowl of chips and dips."

After Mr. Rogers came to Wal-Mart under fellow Frito-Lay alum and now Chief Marketing Officer Stephen Quinn, he was again working with GSD&M, the incumbent on the giant retailer's advertising account. Mr. Rogers brought in the Purpose Institute to help the giant retailer focus on its goal, which, he said, was "saving people money so they could live better."

That, of course, translated into the retailer's current ad slogan -- after two rounds of a much written-about and controversial agency review process -- "Save Money. Live Better," via the winner of the second round, Interpublic Group of Cos.' Martin Agency, Richmond, Va.

Of the authorship dispute involving the campaign, Mr. Rogers simply said, "A lot of people were involved in that."

Mr. Rogers was said by people close to the process to have been a champion of GSD&M throughout the Wal-Mart review. He declined to comment on that, however, saying he'd prefer to focus on GSD&M and his role there.

Wal-Mart post vacant
Mr. Rogers said he'll continue working at Wal-Mart until Aug. 11, but doesn't know who his successor will be there. A Wal-Mart spokesman didn't immediately return a call for comment.

In a statement, GSD&M President Duff Stewart said, "Tony is a believer and a practitioner of branding on purpose, and he brought it to life with the largest company in the world. We've always been impressed with how much heart, head and soul Tony brings to every effort, and we're incredibly fortunate that he has decided to join us at Idea City."
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