Alison Lewis out as CMO of J&J consumer business
Alison Lewis has left her post as chief marketing officer of Johnson & Johnson Consumer Cos. as a result of what the company says is a change in its business model--one that apparently doesn't include having a CMO.
“We have established a new business model that streamlines priorities, allows us to operate more efficiently and increases our investment in categories that offer high potential for growth and where we can make a positive impact on consumers’ lives,” J&J said in a statement about the move. Lewis’ job was created when she was recruited from Coca-Cola Co. in 2013.
A spokeswoman said in an e-mail that there are “no immediate plans to fill the chief marketing officer role.” Lewis’ responsibilities, including agency relations, will be shared among “other leaders in our organization with ongoing involvement from Michael Sneed,” J&J's executive vice president and global corporate affairs and chief communication officer. Sneed’s duties also span J&J’s pharmaceuticals and device businesses and corporate marketing.
“This is a proud moment for me,” Lewis said in a statement provided by J&J. “I’m ready to pass responsibility to a marketing organization that is agile, close to the consumer and one that possesses a contemporary skill set that will help the consumer business grow in this rapidly changing environment. I was brought in to be a change agent, but the talent and passion of the team at Johnson & Johnson also changed me.”
Her move follows departures in recent months of key executives she worked for or with many years, including her boss for most of her tenure, Jorge Mesquita, a Procter & Gamble Co. veteran, who was worldwide chairman of the consumer division. Mesquita was succeeded earlier this year by Thibaut Mongon, a 19-year J&J veteran who had worked in the company's pharmaceutical business since 2012.
Jeffrey B. Smith, who was group chairman-North America on the consumer business for much of Lewis’ tenure, had a six-month stint as global chief transformation officer that ended last month, when he became founder and CEO of direct-to-consumer startup Paragon Vitamins, which sells personalized supplements direct-to-consumer using a hair analysis test, online questionnaire and proprietary algorithm. Smith also is involved with Ignite Growth Brands, an accelerator built for J&J but housed and funded externally.
Kathleen Widmer, former president of J&J’s over-the-counter drug business and a former Elizabeth Arden CMO, filled Smith’s role over North America in January.
Lewis helped streamline J&J’s agency model to work with leaner “squads” of marketers and other people that Smith designed to work on J&J brands. She also helped a relaunch last year of the Johnson’s Baby brand. That corporate flagship has been buffeted by considerable bad press and billions of dollars in damage awards following hundreds of lawsuits by women who charged that Johnson’s Baby Powder caused their ovarian cancer. J&J denies those claims, and has had mixed results in jury verdicts.
J&J reported that worldwide sales of its consumer division, whose brands also include Neutrogena, Aveeno and Tylenol, rose 0.7% in the last quarter excluding the impact of acquisitions, divestitures and currency. Organic sales rose 2.2% globally to $13.9 billion last year. But its growth has been eclipsed over those periods by such players as P&G and Unilever.