Kimberly-Clark switches CMOs amid global creative review

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Giusy Buonfantino.
Giusy Buonfantino. Credit: Kimberly-Clark Corp.

Kimberly-Clark has appointed a new chief marketing officer amid the company's global agency review.

In a brief statement on Monday, the marketer of such brands as Huggies, Kleenex, Cottonelle and U by Kotex says Giuseppina "Giusy" Buonfantino has been named CMO, reporting to President-Global Brands and Innovation Tony Palmer. Buonfantino assumes the role immediately, a spokesman says, but prior CMO Scott Usitalo will continue with the company through Aug. 1 to help with the transition.

Usitalo, who took the job two years ago, plans to retire "to spend more time with family and get back to his passion of rebuilding cars," according to company spokesman Terry Balluck.

Balluck says the change will not affect the current global creative review, begun in March, or another North American review for an unnamed "intimate care" brand.

Buonfantino most recently was president of K-C's baby and child-care business in North America. The 18-year veteran of Johnson & Johnson was VP of the global Neutrogena franchise there, and led that brand's expansion in Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Latin America prior to joining K-C in 2011.

"Giusy has a tremendous track record in brand building, product innovation and customer development, and her insight on consumers has helped us to build our trusted brands across multiple categories," Palmer said in a statement. He added that she's "well positioned to lead our global marketing organization and drive enduring and profitable growth."

K-C has seen slowing sales and fewer high-profile creative efforts in recent years since former CMO Clive Sirkin left to become chief growth officer of Kellogg Co. The company reported $648 million in global ad spending last year, down 2.6 percent, the second annual decline.

Kimberly-Clark turned in a relatively strong 2-percent organic sales growth last quarter -- with unit volume up 3 percent but prices down 1 percent -- driven heavily by lower prices on such things as diapers and tissue products.

K-C in January announced plans to cut about 5,500 jobs, or about 13 percent of its workforce, amid tougher competition and a bigger emphasis on private labels in its categories by such key retailers as Walmart and Amazon.

Competitive pressures have fueled a bruising price war between K-C and its primary paper rival Procter & Gamble Co., particularly in diapers. P&G blamed weakness and price competition in diapers for carving a full percentage point off its 1 percent organic sales growth last quarter.

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