USAA Names New Marketing Chief as CMO Retires

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Wes Laird
Wes Laird Credit: USAA

Insurance and financial company USAA, which serves American military members, veterans and their families, has named Wes Laird to chief marketing officer, succeeding Roger Adams, who is preparing to retire at the end of the year.

Adams, who took on the CMO role in 2010, will hand over day-to-day responsibilities to Laird on Sept. 1, but will remain in an advisory role through Dec. 31.

Laird, a seven-year USAA veteran, will report to Michael Merwarth, exec VP-enterprise strategy and marketing.

While Laird said he has "no hard direction changes" in mind for USAA at the moment, he is looking to increase its focus on data and analytics and emerging technologies.

Laird said the company has always prided itself on knowing and understanding its members and prospects, but noted that going forward, USAA wants to make sure it's showing up in relevant and helpful ways in "always-on digital channels."

Last fall, USAA selected a Publicis Groupe team, including Razorfish, Saatchi & Saatchi, MSLGroup, Mediavest|Spark and Prodigious, to handle all integrated marketing, communications and media after a competitive holding company review.

No changes are expected to come with that relationship, said Laird, who added that the partnership is still new and USAA is pleased with Publicis' performance so far. "The integrated agency relationship gives us a competitive advantage and we've seen great progress."

When asked about any upcoming campaign launches, Laird declined to give specifics, but said "more to come on that" in the future.

USAA, headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, spent about $146 million on U.S. measured media in 2016, according to Kantar Media, up from $135 million in 2015.

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