NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- AOL is shutting down a lengthy search for a CMO and is promoting 28-year-old Maureen Sullivan, CEO Tim Armstrong's former chief of staff, to the job.
Ms. Sullivan had been "acting CMO" in addition to chief of staff, and will be named senior VP-marketing and brand partnerships, according to a memo to staff this morning.
AOL had been searching for a chief marketing officer for nearly six months and interviewed a lot of seasoned pros from inside and outside the business. But Mr. Armstrong decided to pick the exec closest to him -- Ms. Sullivan was also his chief of staff at Google -- and to redefine the role.
Rather than a traditional CMO with a big staff, Mr. Armstrong decided it didn't make sense to centralize all marketing. Rather, he discovered that a lot of marketing talent exists -- and had been largely untapped -- within the various business units. Ms. Sullivan will oversee and support those efforts with company-wide creative and visual standards.
Ms. Sullivan oversaw the rebranding of AOL late last year, including a new logo from Wolff Olins. In an interview, Ms. Sullivan said during the re-branding effort the company unearthed a lot of marketing talent within the company.
"The lesson from the rebranding is there shouldn't be a hard-lined group of people that controls all our brands," Ms. Sullivan said. "What we learned is there should be a cross-functional, nimble team that can work across all parts of the AOL organization."
In addition to a CMO, AOL had been seeking a chief content officer, and entertained hiring an executive for each role or finding someone who could serve for both. But those plans changed with the hiring of former YouTube and Time Warner executive David Eun to head AOL's content division. Now the creative role will be re-cast as "creative director" to bring new thinking to AOL branding.
The changes are part of a number of exec shifts at AOL, which hired former Microsoft exec Alex Gounares as chief technology officer. General counsel Ira Parker, a holdover from before Mr. Armstrong became CEO, is leaving and will be replaced by 10-year AOL veteran Julie Jacobs. Chief Financial Officer Artie Minson will now oversee corporate communications and business development. Former Patch CEO Jon Brod, currently running AOL Ventures, Local & Mapping, will also take over business operations company-wide.
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