"I've been thinking about it and planning on it a good long while," said the 60-year-old executive. "I became retirement-eligible last year and enough things continued to happen and I keep dragging it out. I look forward to spending time with my wife and family and doing what I want to do and when I want to do it and stay connected with some of my passions."
He plans to continue teaching at Wake Forest University and will look to join boards of companies in emerging marketing and entertainment technologies, an area he has led as a committee chairman for the ANA. In keeping with association by-laws, Mr. Garrity will step down from his ANA roles but will consult.
The onetime ANA chairman is known as much for his leadership in marketing accountability as he is for taking the once sleepy bank brand national following the merger of First Union Corp. with tiny Wachovia Corp.
Ad Age Marketing 50
While the name isn't yet as recognizable Coca-Cola or Apple, the effort became a case study in rebranding as Wachovia not only met its "lose no customers" CEO mandate but actually boosted customer satisfaction by more than 10.6% in the two years following the merger, a rare feat among merged companies. For his efforts, Mr. Garrity earned a spot on Advertising Age's 2004 Marketing 50.
Today, Wachovia is the nation's fifth-largest bank, yet it has ranked No. 1 in customer satisfaction for six straight years on the University of Michigan Customer Satisfaction Survey. Last October, the bank bowed a dozen TV spots via longtime shop Mullen, Wenham, Mass., to tout its leadership in and obsession with customer satisfaction. Wachovia spent $145.8 million in measured media in 2006, according to TNS Media Intelligence.
Mr. Garrity also centralized marketing at the bank, creating a common budget and language for marketing and setting a new process to measure the impact of marketing investments among marketing, analysis and finance. "The main thing we did was build a model to tell us what the [return on investment] is on different marketing investments," he said. The system "could tell you how much it costs to acquire a free checking customer in New York vs. Atlanta, the cost per account and what portion of that was spent in online advertising, newspaper advertising, media relations, direct mail and so forth," he said.
Today, the budgets aren't totally dictated by the model but directionally driven by it. For example, Mr. Garrity has boosted online spending to more than $5 million to better capture emerging-media opportunities.
In announcing his retirement, Mr. Garrity ends one of the most successful marketing careers in the industry. He joined what was First Union Corp. in 1997 from VP-communications at Compaq Computer Corp., where he repositioned the brand and launched its consumer business. He also broadened the global computer giant's product line to include value-priced lines to compete with the likes of Gateway and Dell. He earlier spent 20 years in sales and marketing with IBM Corp., including heading its domestic advertising unit.
'A role model'
"Jim is one of the finest professionals I've ever met in this business," said Robert D. Liodice, president-CEO of the ANA. "His insights and lessons in marketing accountability have been very instructive for the ANA. Wachovia is clearly a leader at being able to provide insights and bring the organization together that systemizes the accountability process."
"Jim Garrity has been a role model, inside his company and in the industry," said Eric Leininger, senior VP-global consumer and business insights for McDonald's Corp. and ANA treasurer. "He has been an outspoken advocate for CMOs to step up to the responsibility of measuring marketing impact with the most effective tools as a guide to continuous improvement, and not just a scorecard."
"In my tenure, marketing has been defined narrowly but explicitly and in a fairly clear way," said Mr. Garrity. "It's a rock-solid team that will propel this company forward and, as a shareholder, I feel good about that."