Facebook Hires Diageo Marketing Exec For Agency Relations Role

Michelle Klein Departs Smirnoff Brand for Social Media Giant

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Michelle Klein, Smirnoff's VP-global marketing, is leaving the Diageo-owned vodka brand for Facebook, where she is expected to play a big role managing agency relationships. She will join the social media giant's global business marketing team based in New York City, she confirmed in an email.

Michelle Klein
Michelle Klein

A Facebook spokesman confirmed Ms. Klein's hiring and said her title would be head of global agency marketing.

Facebook 86 days ago posted a job opening on LinkedIn matching that title that described the role as follows: "Facebook seeks an experienced marketer who is passionate about the online advertising industry to develop and manage industry-facing programs and events to drive education, inspiration and give advertisers (mainly agencies) a reason to believe that Facebook can drive business results for their clients."

The Facebook spokesman said: "Agencies are a very important audience and partner for Facebook, and the role will focus on making the most of this important relationship." In the newly created role, Ms. Klein is expected to work alongside Facebook's existing team that manages agency relationships.

Ms. Klein, who was named one of Ad Age's Women to Watch in 2013, joined Diageo about eight years ago. She was initially brought on to oversee digital marketing for Smirnoff, the world's largest vodka brand. She was promoted three years ago to the brand's top marketing position.

During her tenure, Ms. Klein helped lead several digital-focused campaigns including the social-media-fueled "Nightlife Exchange Project," in which people in 50 countries exchanged party ideas for one global bash that included bringing a South Beach vibe to London and British food and music to Miami.

Smirnoff's latest campaign, called "Exclusively for Everybody," includes TV ads that use humor to mock the social exclusivity and pretentiousness that pervades the vodka category. Smirnoff's agency is MDC Partners-owned 72andSunny, which won the account in August of last year from WPP's JWT.

"Michelle has made a significant contribution to Diageo and Smirnoff," Matt Bruhn, global marketing director for Smirnoff, said in a statement. "While we are sad to see her to go, we look forward to working with her in her next adventure."

Ms. Klein's hiring continues the trend of Silicon Valley tech giants poaching top talent from big consumer brands. For instance, last month Google hired L'Oreal Global CMO Marc Speichert to join its global client and agency solutions division. That followed the 2013 hire by the company of Kellogg Co's programmatic buying expert Bob Arnold. Facebook in 2012 hired former Levi's and Apple exec Rebecca Van Dyck to head global marketing. Ms. Van Dyck was an Ad Age Woman to Watch in 2011.

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