Mr. Adams, the latest executive to exit through what has been a revolving door at Home Depot, left to "pursue other opportunities," according to a statement issued to employees by CEO Frank Blake, himself on the job since January when he replaced Robert Nardelli. Mr. Adams will be replaced on an interim basis by John Ross, VP-advertising.
Mr. Ross, who has been at Home Depot for 10 years, will report directly to Mr. Blake, the internal announcement said.
Mr. Adams, 51, worked with food marketers Keebler Co., H.J. Heinz, RJR Nabisco and PepsiCo. He also spent seven years at General Motors Corp. before joining Home Depot in February 2005 as senior VP-marketing. At Home Depot, he oversaw numerous partnerships, including the launch of Home Depot's NFL partnership campaign.
But the marketer faces not only competition from Lowe's Home Improvement but from Best Buy and others, so Mr. Adams sought to add emotion to the $542.9 million the big-box retailer spends on marketing. He shifted the company's long-time focus from its stores and its employees to its customers.
The "True Stories" campaign, for example, included a spot about a Mexican man who could not go back to his hometown but used Home Depot to buy the tiles and paint he needed to bring a little of his heritage to his family in America. In an innovative approach to the tough challenge of reaching acculturated, English-speaking Hispanics, Mr. Adams aired English- and Spanish-language versions of the commercial.
Home Depot's agencies are longtime shop Richards Group, for general-market advrtising; TVP for Hispanic; and UniWorld Group for African-American advertising.
One week after ANA speech
The announcement of Mr. Adams departure came just one week after he addressed the Association of National Advertisers meeting in Phoenix. There, Mr. Adams described the new marketing world as an upside-down pyramid with the customer at the top and the CEO at the bottom. "It's all about the customer," he told attendees.
Mr. Adams said in the past Home Depot would cut back on hiring when the economy softened, but during this housing crunch, the company was investing in in-store experts, bringing back master plumbers and other specialists to aid customers with home-improvement advice.