Pio Schunker, Former Coca-Cola Marketing Exec, Joins Samsung

Korean Conglomerate Looks to CPG Marketers as It Struggles to Find Its Footing

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Pio Schunker in Coca-Cola's 2013 Super Bowl war room.
Pio Schunker in Coca-Cola's 2013 Super Bowl war room. Credit: Reed Young

Samsung has tapped yet another big-name marketer. Pio Schunker, a veteran of Coca-Cola, American Express and Mercedes-Benz, is joining the Korean conglomerate as its SVP-integrated marketing in its IT and mobile division. He will report to Younghee Lee, head of global marketing, splitting his time between New York and Samsung's headquarters in Suwon, South Korea.

Most recently, Mr. Schunker lead integrated marketing for Coca-Cola in North America, where he worked on major advertising programs, including the marketer's Super Bowl campaigns. He departed the beverage giant abruptly in August, 2013.

Over the past year, Samsung has turned to more branding experts, beginning with Vince Hudson, from P&G, in the U.S. Since January, it has hired two more marquee marketers from the CPG world for its new North American office.

The hires come as the Korean company struggles to find its footing. Last year, mobile sales plummeted and Samsung ceased to be the leader in the global smartphone market. It fell particularly hard in Asia, where the brand was eclipsed by Apple, on the premium end, and Chinese rivals, such as Xiaomi, at the low end. Both managed to eat into Samsung's share with more effective brand marketing.

Those seismic changes have forced Samsung to realign its mobile business around new, unproven industries, like software services and connected devices. At the recent South by Southwest conference, Samsung's massive real estate, its experiential marketing center, displayed the usual signature phones and tablets but also prominently featured its appliances, TVs and virtual reality headset.

Mr. Schunker's statement on the appointment pointed to the company's shift. "Samsung has made incredible progress as a global leader in mobility over the past few years," he said. "By constantly pushing the boundaries of how consumers and business users can benefit from the most advanced technology available, we are well positioned to help people discover new possibilities every day."

Earlier this month, Ad Age reported that Samsung was recruiting Marc Mathieu, who worked with Mr. Schunker at Coca-Cola, to replace its outgoing chief creative officer -- and long-time mobile CMO -- Todd Pendleton. Mr. Mathieu's position will be restricted to North America, according to an executive familiar with the decision. Samsung declined to comment on the talks.

In 2014, Samsung spent $668 million measured media in the U.S., according to recently released figures from Kantar Media. Globally, the brand reports spending of around $11 billion in marketing, sales promotions and public relations.

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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story said Mr. Schunker would work from Seoul, based on comments from a Samsung spokeswoman. The spokeswoman was incorrect. He will split his time between New York and Suwon, South Korea.

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