Microsoft Reorganizes Marketing Team, Appoints Chief Creative Officer

Taps Gayle Troberman for Post; Several Execs Also Gain New Roles

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NEW YORK ( -- Microsoft has reorganized its central marketing group and among the changes is the naming of a chief creative officer. Gayle Troberman, a 13-year veteran of the Redmond, Wash.-based software company, has been named to the position, which is still a relatively rare one among client-marketers.

Gayle Troberman
Gayle Troberman
Ms. Troberman is charged with working among the campaign teams and agencies responsible for creative and looking at new marketing approaches and emerging marketing platforms. Most recently, she was general manager of Microsoft's advertising and customer engagement, leading global advertising, relationship marketing and digital strategy for Microsoft's consumer, business-to-business and developer-focused products and services. Prior to that, she launched and ran Microsoft's digital branded-entertainment.

Uncommon title
The chief creative position is commonplace among ad agencies and has cropped up in entertainment industries, such as at video-game makers EA and Activision, and movie studios such as Pixar and Disney Animation Studios. But it's still relatively rare for advertisers to have that role internally; Apple, for example, doesn't have a chief creative officer.

See work from Microsoft on Creativity.

Microsoft had one about 10 years ago, said Frank Shaw, who leads PR for Microsoft. He emphasized it's not a role that will replace any agency relationships or talent.

Microsoft has increased its marketing volume, with large consumer-focused campaigns for Windows and Bing, and expanded its agency roster over the past few years with the addition of WPP's JWT and MDC Partners' Crispin Porter & Bogusky. It also works heavily with Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann Erickson and WPP direct-marketing network Wunderman; Interpublic's Universal McCann handles media.

Taking more risks
While it's always been a major ad spender, Microsoft hasn't been known for its creative chops. But it has started to take more risks. Its Crispin-led Windows effort launched two years ago with an off-beat series of videos starring comedian Jerry Seinfeld and Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates and, more recently, it signed on a deal to sponsor a variety show from "Family Guy" creator Seth MacFarlane, but backed out after getting a look at the racy content, which it deemed "not a fit" with its brand.

Other changes in the marketing group include naming Karen Edwards to lead global marketing and communications strategy; David Webster, to the chief strategy officer role, overseeing two- to five-year marketing strategies for the Microsoft portfolio and cross-company campaign efforts; Kevin Peck, who recently joined Microsoft from FutureBrand, to lead global brand strategy; Steve Petitpas to lead digital; and Megan Hanley to lead media. All report to Mich Mathews, senior VP-corporate marketing group. Also reporting to Ms. Mathews are Mr. Shaw, Reed Cundiff, who heads research, and Shawn Sanford, who runs lifestyle marketing.

Mr. Shaw said the reorganization was not spurred on by any particular event but rather part of a regular internal review process.

Ms. Troberman is also a featured speaker at Advertising Age's Digital Conference, on April 13-14.

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Rupal Parekh contributed to this report.

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