Mr. Mathieu did not respond to email requests for comment. A
Unilever spokeswoman said the company hadn't been informed of any
move involving Mr. Mathieu. Representatives from Samsung did not
return requests for comment.
The electronics giant is in the midst of a significant overhaul
of its U.S. business. It consolidated its three businesses last
year and shifted focus from the fledgling mobile unit to home
appliances and connected devices. Its marketing offices, previously
split between Dallas and New Jersey, are moving to a new Manhattan
office in the coming months under the leadership of president
Gregory Lee, a former marketer with P&G, Kellogg's and Johnson &
For his team, Mr. Lee is scouring top talent from his former
industry. He poached Jay Altschuler from Unilever in January to run
U.S. media, and hired Vince Hudson from P&G, in March 2014, for
In 2014, Mr. Pendleton, the driving force behind Samsung's
big-spending challenge to Apple, was given additional oversight of
broadcast work for Samsung's TVs and appliances. But some of his
media planning and brand work were assigned to Messrs. Hudson and
Altschuler, according to Samsung.
His potential replacement, Mr. Mathieu,
joined Unilever in 2011, after 12 years as a marketing VP at
Coca-Cola. He would arrive
at Samsung as the company confronts challenges in the smartphone
market from Apple and Chinese rivals.
He would also be leaving Unilever after a rocky patch. The
company, which markets Hellmann's, late last year sued Hampton
Creek, which markets the Just Mayo egg-free alternative spread,
alleging false advertising. At that point, Hampton Creek CEO Josh
Tetrick on his blog and Facebook posted an email from Mr. Mathieu
sent after the suit was filed but before it was publicized praising
the startup for its innovation and commitment to sustainability.
Unilever later dropped the lawsuit.
Mr. Mathieu came to Unilever in 2011 as the first key outside
hire for the global marketing team assembled by Global Marketing
and Communications Officer Keith Weed. He helped lead the recent
global corporate branding effort. And he's been a key player in
developing Unilever's "Crafting Brands for Life" strategy focused
on sustainability and balancing creativity with accountability.
In a 2012 interview, Mr. Mathieu said: "If you want to do magic,
the first time you're not going to get it right. You need to
rehearse, repeat, learn and get it right. Then you go and show it
first to someone you trust, a friend, not someone who will judge
you and say it's stupid. And then when you're ready, you do your
trick in front of 50 people. That's why we used the imagery of
craftsmanship, so people understand that magic doesn't happen by
accident. We should do magic that works."