Sears Holdings Taps Razorfish Alum as Marketing Head

David Friedman to Oversee Kmart, Sears Brands

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Sears Holdings is bringing in a digital expert as its new senior VP-president of marketing.

David Friedman
David Friedman
David Friedman, who was most recently president-Americas at Razorfish, will be responsible for the company's marketing business unit. Both the Sears and Kmart marketing teams will report to him.

Those who know Mr. Friedman say it will be interesting to see how someone who has spent his career advising CMOs will handle being in the head marketer's seat. In addition to serving as president-Americas at Razorfish, Mr. Friedman also held positions including president-central region and global managing partner-retail and consumer goods practice at the agency. Prior to joining Razorfish, he spent 10 years at Andersen Consulting, now known as Accenture.

"What's intriguing in my view is that a company like Sears, which has invested so much into offline marketing over the years, tapped someone from a digital agency," said one industry executive. "My sense is that Dave is going to inject a strong dose of digital savvy, especially helping Sears integrate its in-store experience with digital platforms like touchscreens."

Already, Sears Holdings has been experimenting with integrated content plays and digital assets, such as Good News Now, a Sears and AOL collaboration that delivers uplifting news, and KmartDesign.com, which houses profiles of Kmart designers.

One aspect of Mr. Friedman's resume which likely appealed to Sears Holdings' management is his experience as an operational leader at Razorfish. In 2008, Sears Holdings restructured itself into operating business units, where the leadership of each unit is responsible for an internal profit and loss statement. The goal was to focus on managing profitability of the unit, enable rapid decision-making and diminish risks.

"[David] brings to our company a proven track record of assisting numerous retail and consumer organizations in building strong brands through focused digital, online and in-store customer experiences, " Bruce Johnson, interim CEO and president of Sears Holdings, said in a statement. "Under his leadership, Sears Holdings will have the opportunity to enhance marketing efforts for engagement programs that give customers more reasons to shop with us everyday, such as Shop Your Way Rewards, layaway and Sears Chef Challenge."

Sears Holdings executives were not available to comment further.

Mr. Friedman, who will begin work on Sept. 13, takes on the role vacated by Richard Gerstein in April, after less than two years at the retailer. Mr. Friedman will be Sears' third head marketer since Edward Lampert took control of the company in 2005. The retailer has not given its head marketer the CMO title since Maureen McGuire, who was personally recruited by Mr. Lampert, departed two years ago.

Mr. Friedman joins the company at a time when retailers in general, and Sears Holdings in particular, have been struggling. Earlier this month, the company reported that second-quarter revenue fell $93 million to $10.5 billion. Sales at stores open at least a year fell by 2.2%, including a 1.4% decline at Kmart and a 2.8% drop at Sears' domestic locations.

Sears Holdings spent $696 million on measured media in 2009, according to Ad Age's Leading National Advertisers Report. Y&R, Chicago, handles Sears' creative, while DraftFCB handles creative for Kmart. MPG is responsible for media buying at both retailers.

Bob Lord, global CEO at Razorfish, will assume Mr. Friedman's duties, while U.S. regional presidents Shannon Denton, Christian Juhl and Pete Stein will have increased leadership roles, according to a Razorfish spokesman.

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