Orbitz Loses Its Two Top Marketing Execs

CMO Jeff Davidoff and Senior VP Tom Russell Leave Weeks After Naming of New Creative Agency

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CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- The top two marketing executives at Orbitz have left the company only weeks after it named a new creative agency of record, an Orbitz spokeswoman confirmed.

Jeff Davidoff
Jeff Davidoff
The departing executives are Chief Marketing Officer Jeff Davidoff and Senior VP-Marketing Tom Russell, who led the agency search in which Los Angeles-based Trailer Park Studios was named Orbitz's creative-content agency of record just last month. The agency already has Orbitz work displayed on its website.

Mr. Davidoff, formerly VP-brand marketing communications at Whirlpool, joined Orbitz just last October. He replaced Randy Susan Wagner, who departed after less than three years in the position in late 2007. Mr. Davidoff departed the company abruptly late last week, according to people familiar with the matter.

Mr. Russell's last day was July 10. Several people close to the situation said he has accepted a senior marketing position with 1-800-FLOWERS, although that company declined to comment. An Orbitz spokeswoman confirmed the departures but declined to elaborate.

The marketing departures come about six months after Orbitz named Barney Harford president-CEO, succeeding Steve Barnhart, who hired Mr. Davidoff.

In the past several months, online travel sites have initiated a wave of management and agency changes in their struggle to stay competitive amid a recession that has hit consumers' travel budgets hard. Travel site Kayak earlier this year named Robert Birge its new CMO, boosted its ad budget and initiated an agency review, while Expedia is close to wrapping a search for a new agency (the account is currently at embattled Doner). Travelocity also recently saw changes in its marketing ranks, with the arrival of new CMO Victoria Treyger.

Orbitz spent about $55 million in measured media last year, according to TNS Media Intelligence.

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