Facebook CMO Antonio Lucio has announced he will depart the social network after a bumpy tenure, but could set up a newcomer with experience in civil rights.
Lucio revealed his resignation in a Facebook post on Friday. “It is a time for reckoning for the nation and my industry and it is time for me to play a more active part in accelerating change,” he wrote Friday in a Facebook post. Lucio said his last day on the job would be Sept. 18.
"Antonio did incredible work telling our story during a transformative period for the company,” Facebook said in an email statement. “We’re grateful for his enormous contributions and wish him well in his next chapter.”
Facebook is trying to dig itself out of a public downward spiral, in which it is often framed as a dangerous company by its critics who are worried about the effects of the social network on civil discourse. In July the company faced an advertising boycott by brands organized by civil rights groups. The movement was called Stop Hate for Profit, painting Facebook as a uniquely toxic platform that enabled hate speech.
Lucio was largely absent from Facebook's public response to the boycott that came in the wake of the mass protests in support of justice over the killing of George Floyd. HP, where Lucio previously served as chief marketing officer, even joined the boycott of Facebook advertising.
Lucio was known over the years as pressing for more accountability in digital media, before even joining Facebook. A native of Spain who was raised in Puerto Rico, Lucio has a reputation as a fierce advocate for diversity. At HP, he pushed his agencies to include more women and people of color in senior leadership positions.
The groups behind the Facebook boycott have made a demand that Facebook hire a new Black executive with strong civil rights experience. Facebook declined to comment if its new CMO, when eventually hired, would fit that criteria.
In his Facebook post on Friday, Lucio nodded to his interest in seeing more representation in the industry, and said he would devote the remainder of his career to the subject. Lucio did not outline what steps he would take next, and attempts to reach him by e-mail were unsuccessful.
“Given the historical inflection point we are in as a country regarding racial justice, I have decided to dedicate 100 percent of my time to diversity, inclusion and equity,” Lucio said in his farewell to Facebook post.
Lucio was hired in late 2018 and was charged with helping Facebook rebuild its fractured image.
Lucio stepped into Facebook with a goal to rebuild trust, Lucio told Ad Age last year. “What you’re going to see from us from now on is much more of a regular beat on all the progress that we are making,” Lucio said at the time, when he was embarking on his first major marketing campaign. “We need to make sure that we are participants in the way that our story is told and not just on the receiving end.”
Lucio went to work to recast the company, even spearheading a Super Bowl commercial this year.
The company was trying to re-establish the brand after the slings of 2016, when the U.S. election helped sow mistrust about the service. Facebook was dealing with the fallout over Cambridge Analytica, the data company that mined information on up to 87 million Facebook users. The data lapse led to a record $5 billion fine from the Federal Trade Commission.