K-C: 'We Don't Believe in Digital Marketing ... [But] Marketing in a Digital World'

Package-Goods Giant's New Top Marketer Sirkin Espouses 'Lean' Marketing

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Kimberly-Clark Corp. has named Clive Sirkin senior marketing officer, raising the five-year veteran into a chief marketer role. The move follows Tony Palmer's promotion to president-global brands and innovation from CMO earlier this month.

Mr. Sirkin, formerly VP-global integrated marketing communications, will still report to Mr. Palmer, who will continue to oversee marketing. But Mr. Palmer said in an interview that he'll direct more attention to duties added to his CMO position in recent years, including developing K-C's products and general-management talent -- the latter in particular consuming more of his time.

Mr. Sirkin joined K-C in 2007, seven months after Mr. Palmer was named CMO. Their partnership precedes that . Mr. Palmer came to K-C from Kellogg Co., and Mr. Sirkin had been group managing director at Leo Burnett Co., Chicago, on the Kellogg account before going to K-C.

He has been at Mr. Palmer's side since, implementing integrated marketing communications, Mr. Palmer said. "We still have the same key priorities of developing a sustainable business model, driving news on our brands, having the measurement and analytics to understand what's working and what's not, and then focusing on unleashing the power of people and getting them to take more risks," he said.

K-C spent $686 million globally on advertising last year, according to its recently published financial results, 1.7% less than the year before, as rising commodity costs squeezed profit margins. The company has made gains with such brands as Kotex, Poise and Depend. But it has also been up against some of rival Procter & Gamble Co.'s strongest brands, with Bounty and Charmin in the U.S. and Pampers diapers, which has been growing rapidly in emerging markets.

Spurring growth for such brands as Huggies, Cottonelle and Scott remains a priority. Mr. Sirkin will also concentrate on K-C's "lean marketing" initiative. Though several packaged-goods marketers have talked in recent weeks about digital media as a driver of cost-efficiency, it's not the key, he said.

"It's very easy for people to translate 'lean' into low-cost provider or cheapest," Mr. Sirkin said. "That's not the exercise. Lean is effectiveness and greater return on investment. The other thing is we don't believe in digital marketing. We believe in marketing in a digital world, and there's a huge difference."

Areas of concentration include improving the speed and effectiveness of new-product and marketing-program evaluation. K-C isn't considering digital its own silo, he said, and aims to look at the right communications channels for each initiative according to its objectives.

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