Group SJR Taps Former Xerox CMO Christa Carone

Agency Known for Creating, Managing Publishing Platforms for GE, Home Depot

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WPP content shop Group SJR has hired marketing vet Christa Carone as its new chief operating officer as it charts growth for 2016.

Credit: Courtesy Group SJR

Ms. Carone most recently served as chief marketing and communications officer of Boston's bid for the 2024 Olympic Games. Prior to that, she was exec VP at Fidelity Investments overseeing communications and corporate affairs, as well as various other marketing tasks. Before joining Fidelity in 2013, she spent 17 years at Xerox, most recently serving as CMO and overseeing all marketing and communication globally.

Ms. Carone's joint marketing and communications experience attracted SJR, which sits "squarely" between the two, said CEO Alex Jutkowitz. The shop, which is a subsidiary of WPP's PR agency Hill & Knowlton, is known for creating and managing publishing platforms and creating video content for brands such as General Electric, Home Depot and Barney's New York.

"She embodies the journey the industry has gone on," said Mr. Jutkowitz of Ms. Carone. "Communications is supposed to be about reputation, and marketing is about brand. We all know in certain ways these things are inextricably intertwined. Agencies and also companies have not necessarily converged in those ways, but she made the journey and crossover."

Ms. Carone will also serve as managing director of Colloquial, a content marketing joint venture between SJR and creative agency sibling J. Walter Thompson.

Colloquial is only one of the joint ventures SJR has initiated, and it won't be the last, said Mr. Jutkowitz.

This past summer, WPP inked a joint venture with Snapchat and The Daily Mail to launch a separate agency called Truffle Pig, run by Mr. Jutkowitz. At the time, the companies said Truffle Pig would offer services like content projects, positioning and messaging, video and photography, data and analytics, audience development and planning, among other capabilities. The shop said it would first test content and marketing on Snapchat, the Daily Mail and sibling brand Elite Daily, though the agency is not limited to just WPP clients or Daily Mail properties.

Mr. Jutkowitz wouldn't elaborate on the progress of the venture beyond saying that the relationship with Snapchat is also contributing to the larger SJR capabilities. "We've tripled down on video," he said. "Because of the Truffle Pig deal, we've obviously spent a lot of time thinking through Snapchat. It led us into the consumer world, which is no surprise."

This year, SJR is projecting a 25% increase in headcount as it continues to expand its core content and video business, its geographical reach -- the shop is currently in the U.S., U.K. and Mexico -- and its partnership portfolio.

"Through my CMO and CCO experiences, I continued to see the lines blur between promoting a brand and managing a corporate reputation," said Ms. Carone in a statement. "For me, joining the firms that are pioneering the future of our industry aligns perfectly with my experiences and offers a unique opportunity to work with impressive brands that are strengthening customer connections through powerful storytelling."

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