Eric Keshin Out at Hewlett-Packard

Former McCann Top Executive Was in Marketing Role for 20 Months

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Eric Keshin, head of marketing for Hewlett-Packard's combined personal computers and printing division, is no longer with the company, Ad Age has learned.

Eric Keshin
Eric Keshin
It was a short run; Mr. Keshin spent just 20 months at HP after a nearly three-decade career at Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann. The timing of his departure coincidentally comes just as McCann has ousted its CEO Nick Brien, the person under whom Mr. Keshin was reorganized out of the agency. Joining HP was a natural fit given it was one of McCann clients and a marketer he knew well.

A corporate spokesman said via email that Mr. Keshin "left HP to pursue other interests," and added that the company is now "undertaking a formal search for a leader of Printing and Personal Systems Marketing." Mr. Keshin could not be reached for comment, but marketing industry executives suggested he does not have another position lined up.

HP has been an internal hotbed of turnover and change over the past few years. As Fortune summed up in a piece in May about the tenure of former CEO Leo Apotheker: "For a decade now the company has sometimes seemed more like a tawdry reality show than one of the world's great enterprises."

Meg Whitman took the helm in September of last year, becoming the fourth CEO in less than a decade, succeeding three ousted previous leaders. They were: Mr. Apotheker (removed after less than a year on the job from November 2010 to September 2011); Mark Hurd (resigned after a personal scandal after serving from 2005-2010) and Carly Fiorina (left in 2005 after a board scuffle that included founding heir Walter Hewlett). It's been a flurry of change that followed a period of relative calm and continuity; before Ms. Fiorina, there had been only three CEOs since the company was founded in 1939.

In March, Ms. Whitman combined the personal systems group and the printing group into a single unit, and it was at that time Mr. Keshin was tapped to head marketing of the combined group. He reported directly to CMO Marty Homlish (Todd Bradley, who had been heading the personal systems group, was named to head the new combined group, Printing and Personal Systems, as well.) In a memo that was published by AllThingsD, The former print standalone division marketing chief, Manny Kostas, was noted would "work together" with Mr. Keshin, the memo stated, but Mr. Kostas later left HP in August.

During his short tenure, Mr. Keshin did use his agency-side experience to rejigger the company's marketing relationships. Earlier this year, he oversaw a creative review, and at the end of that process the work went to Omnicom Group's BBDO.

But whether can marketing can answer HP's significant business problems remains to be seen. Its stock price hit a 52-week low this week amid a competitive PC industry climate, less-than-stellar reviews for the latest operating system Windows 8, the ongoing drop-off in printing, and the continued movement of consumer interest to tablets and smartphones. HP did launch a tablet, the TouchPad in summer 2011 based on its own WebOS operating system, only to pull back less than two months later, discontinuing the device and warning that the company was considering spinning off the personal computing division.

Ms. Whitman's takeover as CEO reversed that course, and reinstated HP's tablet ambitions, although the first one, the ElitePad 900 run on Windows 8, will not arrive until early 2013 and is positioned as a business tablet. Even Ms. Whitman acknowledges the company has a long way to go and recently told analysts the company would not be back on course until 2016.

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