Microsoft Lays Off 200 in Marketing; Gayle Troberman Out

Move Part of Shift Toward Product Marketing Groups

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Microsoft has laid off roughly 200 people in marketing, including Chief Creative Officer Gayle Troberman, Ad Age has learned.

Gayle Troberman
Gayle Troberman

The move confirms a shift Ad Age reported in January. In the face of sagging revenue growth and profit, Microsoft is looking to put more creative and advertising control in the hands of product teams for Bing, Xbox and Windows to bolster sales in those divisions. This will shift creative power from Microsoft's central marketing group to those closer to the product.

In her 16 years at Microsoft, Ms. Troberman was involved with iconic campaigns "I'm a PC" campaign to counter Apple's "Mac vs. PC" ads, the "Bing and Decide" campaign to launch its search engine and the "Really?" ads that launched its new Windows Phone platform. She was also named an Advertising Age "Woman to Watch." Ms. Troberman declined to comment.

The marketing reorganization comes from Microsoft's newly installed chief marketer Chris Capossella, who led marketing for product group Office before taking on the larger role just months ago.

The layoffs will include members of Microsoft's consumer-marketing group, the umbrella unit that has traditionally overseen creative alongside the business groups. Mr. Capossella has also issued a "guiding principles" document to lay out his vision for a more-streamlined marketing practice.

The layoffs also include some from business groups and do not obliterate the consumer-marketing group entirely. The umbrella group will continue to handle functions best handled at scale, such as media buying and planning, market research and corporate communications. This group will also continue to steer Microsoft branding.

"We're taking steps to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of our marketing, and to strengthen career paths for marketers at Microsoft," a company spokeswoman said in a statement. "Some of these changes involved the reduction of a small percentage of marketing positions, to better align our resources with our business needs and clarify roles across the marketing function."

The move to decentralize marketing comes at a juncture where consumer tech is trending toward products that work in concert within consumers' homes. Think of Apple's iCloud that makes content available on any iProduct a consumer owns. Microsoft has also headed in that direction. The consumer marketing was responsible for the company's holiday campaign that presented a suite of products -- Windows Phone, Xbox and Office -- in one series of ads as a "family."

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