J&J Appoints New Chief of Marketing, PR After Recalls

Career Executive Sneed to 'Provide a Dedicated Focus' on Company Reputation

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Johnson & Johnson has appointed Michael Sneed to oversee its global marketing and public relations functions. Mr. Sneed becomes VP-global corporate affairs on Jan. 1, reporting to Chairman-CEO William Weldon, as the company looks to recover from a series of product recalls.

Michael Sneed
Michael Sneed

Brian Perkins, currently J&J's top marketing executive, with the title of corporate VP-corporate affairs, is set to retire in March. He will report to Mr. Sneed during a transitional period. Ray Jordan, corporate VP-public affairs and corporate communications, will now also report to Mr. Sneed.

The moves come as J&J, the No. 9 advertiser in the U.S. with spending of $2 billion last year according to the Advertising Age DataCenter, has announced layoffs affecting marketing positions in the consumer division but would not specify the total number.

"There have been some reductions in our consumer marketing staff recently," J&J said in a statement. "These are consistent with a new organization design adopted earlier this year to help us better serve our customers and remain competitive."

In a memo, Mr. Weldon said Mr. Sneed's appointment was made "to ensure that our enterprise strategies are effectively adopted by our businesses, to better align our global functions to support our growth, and to provide a dedicated focus to all aspects of our reputation."

J&J has suffered a series of quality-related recalls since 2009 that have affected mainly over-the-counter drug brands in the consumer division but also hit the bigger and more profitable prescription drug and medical-device businesses. The recalls have cost the consumer division more than $1 billion in sales, and J&J doesn't expect to have full production capacity restored for such brands as Tylenol, Motrin and Benadryl until next year as it works to refurbish plants and get Food and Drug Administration sign-offs on the fixes.

Mr. Sneed is not replacing Mr. Perkins, said a spokeswoman, pointing out that the new position has broader responsibilities encompassing public relations. No replacement for Mr. Perkins has been named, and the spokeswoman declined to say whether one would be.

One possibility, according to people familiar with the matter, would be that Kim Kadlec, J&J's worldwide VP-global marketing group, will assume Mr. Perkins' role. Ms. Kadlec has in recent years taken over the creative agency relations formerly handled by Joe McCarthy, who left in 2008 to become CEO of Publicis Worldwide, New York -- giving Ms. Kadlec duties with a scope similar to those of Mr. Perkins, according to these sources.

While Mr. Sneed will report directly to Mr. Weldon, according to an organizational chart attached to the announcement of his appointment, he will not be part of J&J's executive committee. That group includes the chief financial officer, general counsel and head of human resources, in addition to vice chairmen Alex Gorsky and Sheri McCoy, who head J&J's far-flung operating units and are widely seen as candidates to succeed Mr. Weldon.

Mr. Sneed joined J&J as a marketing assistant in the personal-products business directly after graduating with an M.B.A. from Dartmouth's Tuck School of Business in 1983. Since 2007, he's been a group chairman of the company's global vision-care business and a member of theoperating committee of the medical devices and diagnostics group.

He's also been a group product director in the McNeil consumer products division, led the Asia Pacific, Eastern European and Latin American operations of the company's consumer pharmaceuticals business and headed the McNeil nutritionals businesses in Europe and ultimately worldwide.

From 2002 to 2007 he had key roles in the global personal-products business, becoming group chairman-North America in 2004, as well as responsibilities for J&J's sales, information technology, finance and human resources.

He's been well regarded by agency executives in his stops at J&J, where he's viewed as a supporter of creative approaches.

Contributing: Alexandra Bruell

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