Motorola CMO Tried to Save Razr, Got Cut

Company Attributes Kenneth Keller Jr.'s Departure to a Restructuring Effort

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SAN FRANCISCO (AdAge.com) -- Kenneth C. "Casey" Keller Jr., the package-goods marketing guru who tried to revive Motorola after its popular Razr product started to lose its edge, has been cut from the company.
Kenneth 'Casey' Keller
Kenneth 'Casey' Keller

In a statement, Motorola attributed Mr. Keller's departure to a restructuring aimed at ensuring "that our marketing efforts are even more closely aligned with our businesses." Jeremy Dale, VP-global marketing and communications, mobile devices, and Eduardo Conrado, VP-global business and technology marketing and communications, both of whom reported to Mr. Keller, will continue to head up their respective divisions.

"We expect that this new structure will facilitate the further development of our brand, increase our product-marketing effectiveness and accelerate the growth and success of Motorola," the company said in a statement. It added that Mr. Keller, whose CMO title will not be filled, was "a key contributor to the development and implementation of Motorola's global marketing strategy and has led Motorola's effort to align marketing more closely with the company's business units and key audiences. We appreciate all that Casey has done for Motorola and wish the best in the future."

Mr. Keller did not respond to calls and e-mails for comment by deadline.

Diverse resume
Mr. Keller, who previously worked for Procter & Gamble and H.J. Heinz (where he came up with innovations such as green ketchup), took over the Motorola post in October 2006 soon after the unexpected death of iconic marketer Geoffrey Frost who spearheaded the "Hello Moto" ad campaign. Mr. Keller arrived as the popular Razr handsets were beginning their decline; Motorola has been unable to come up with a successor and is losing ground to competitors such as Nokia, Korean manufacturers Samsung and LG, and even Apple's hot iPhone.

Mr. Dale, originally trained as an accountant, was VP-brand marketing at British telecom Orange, where he initiated the "Orange Wednesdays" cinema program in which those with Orange phones were afforded special promotions at participating movie theaters. He also has experience in the video-game business as a result of a stint at Nintendo. At Motorola, he previously served VP-retail and channel marketing.

Mr. Conrado realigned Motorola's business-to-business marketing teams around customer segments instead of business units, which generate $18 billion in annual revenue.

Threat from Carl Icahn
The strain on the consumer sector of Motorola's business led to the January departure of Motorola CEO Edward J. Zander and his replacement by Chief Operating Officer Greg Brown, thought by analysts to be less marketing-oriented and more operations-centered than his predecessor.

Mr. Keller's departure comes at a time the company is preparing for a second assault from Carl Icahn, the activist investor who has been pushing for a sale of the consumer-handset business. Mr. Icahn, who owns a 6.3% state in Motorola, has four candidates for Motorola's board set for a vote at a May 5 shareholders' meeting.

During Mr. Keller's tenure, Motorola dropped an arrangement Mr. Frost had with a number of agencies, including the naming of BBDO as lead shop. He kept BBDO as Motorola's business-to-business agency and continued to work with a host of other creative shops. Although he said WPP Group's Ogilvy & Mather was distribution agency-of-record, Motorola never officially confirmed the assignment. A Motorola spokeswoman said the handset maker will continue to work with a number of creative agencies.

Motorola spent $27 million in measured media in 2007, down significantly from $43 million in 2006, according to TNS Media Intelligence.
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