NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Wendy Clark, senior VP-advertising, AT&T, and one of the most powerful executives in the marketing world, is preparing to leave the telecom, the marketer confirmed.
News of Ms. Clark's departure comes a day after Procter & Gamble Co. confirmed its marketing chief, Jim Stengel, is stepping down. The two controlled the two biggest budgets in the U.S., according to an Advertising Age analysis. AT&T spent $3.2 billion on marketing in 2007, while P&G spent $5.2 billion.
Executives familiar with Ms. Clark's situation said her departure has to do with the planned relocation of AT&T's corporate headquarters from San Antonio to Dallas. It was not immediately clear what Ms. Clark's next move will be. Ms. Clark could not be reached for comment.
"The AT&T brand is iconic in the communications industry globally and the company is one of nation's largest advertisers. We plan to conduct an extensive search for candidates to lead AT&T's advertising and brand management efforts as the company continues to expand, domestically and globally," AT&T said in a statement.
During her tenure at the telecom, Ms. Clark, a past Ad Age Woman to Watch, helped return the AT&T brand to the consumer marketplace, leading the massive campaign from Omnicom Group's GSD&M (now GSDM's Idea City) in support of rebranding SBC Communications to AT&T. She also oversaw a review to consolidate the company's media-buying business, which ended up going to WPP Group's Mediaedge:cia.
Ms. Clark is a former executive at GSD&M. She went from that agency to SBC, which bought AT&T in 2005. In 2006, AT&T's acquisition of BellSouth, which gave it full control of the mobile brand Cingular Wireless, was approved, setting the stage for the rebranding of the entire operation. That campaign was handled by Omnicom's BBDO.
While initially criticized in some circles, the decision to use AT&T as the corporate brand is now generally regarded as a success. Big media budgets aside, however (Ad Age ranks AT&T as the country's largest single megabrand with $2.2 billion in measured U.S. spending), its brand is certainly being helped along by its association with the Apple iPhone. As the exclusive service provider for the wildly popular device, AT&T has reaped an enormous amount of publicity and enjoyed the glow of Apple's considerable brand halo.
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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that BBDO handled the camapign that rebranded SBC as AT&T. BBDO had handled the rebranding of Cingular Wireless.