Kimberly-Clark Beefs Up Marketing Team, Spending

Adds $200 Million and Three Global Execs, Focuses on Digital Media

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BATAVIA, Ohio ( -- For its first century in operation, Kimberly-Clark Corp. didn't even have a CMO. Now it's adding three global executives to its central marketing organization,
Kimberly-Clark is preparing to massively shift its marketing budget toward nontraditional media.
Kimberly-Clark is preparing to massively shift its marketing budget toward nontraditional media.
ramping up marketing spending $200 million by 2009 and readying a massive shift to nontraditional media.

Tony Palmer, the former Kellogg Co. executive who became K-C's first chief marketing officer in October, has hired three executives for new posts overseeing global brand development, market research and integrated-marketing communications. He said the group is needed to help guide the organization and move best practices around the world at a critical juncture for the $17 billion global marketer.

K-C is looking to deliver on promises to Wall Street to spend more on marketing, where it often has lagged behind its chief rival, Procter & Gamble Co. But K-C also is dramatically reallocating how it spends, away from TV and toward nontraditional media in the U.S., which Mr. Palmer said is projected to account for 25% of the company's media spending this year compared with only 10% in 2004.

"As we look back through history, we built our brands with very powerful technology and very good innovation and marketing capability," Mr. Palmer said. "However, I'd say it came a lot from the technology and functional differentiation. ... We're not really taking our best marketing practices from around the world and truly making it travel."

The song "Let It Out" from Kleenex's recently launched global ad campaign of the same name by WPP Group's JWT, for example, got play on radio stations and became the 35th-most-downloaded song on iTunes in the U.K., he said. He'd like to test ways to give the song the same cachet in the U.S.

"We also have a big opportunity around the efficiency of our marketing spend," Mr. Palmer said. "As a company, we're not using our scale as effectively as we could, for example, with our service providers, by standardizing our [market] research approaches."

The new team, he said, also is developing a common marketing language and strategic, branding and research tools for the company "so we're speaking the same language around the world."

Joining Mr. Palmer's group this month are:

  • Andrew Bienkowski, who was chief marketing officer for Coca-Cola Co.'s Coke, Fanta and Sprite brands in 56 overseas markets. He is taking the newly created role of VP-global brands at K-C, leading brand strategies for all of the company's consumer and professional businesses.

  • Roger Chacko, who was senior VP-strategy development in North America at Mars, becomes K-C's VP-global marketing knowledge and intelligence, with duties that include coordinating the work of 400 global market-research providers.

  • Clive Sirkin, who was group managing director for Publicis Groupe's Leo Burnett Co., where he worked with Mr. Palmer on the Kellogg account, takes the new post of VP-global integrated marketing communications. He will be in charge of managing K-C's relationships with advertising and other marketing-services agencies.

The hire of longtime agency executive Mr. Sirkin to manage agency relations for K-C is similar to hires rival Johnson & Johnson has brought into its central marketing group in the past two years. Mr. Palmer said he wasn't sure whether that should become a trend for everyone, but he said it is important to have someone who understands how the agency business works at a time when marketing is changing so rapidly.

"With all the pressure going from [TV] creative into [alternative] media, and all that complexity, Clive understands the industry from the inside out," Mr. Palmer said. "He's been a client, but he can also help us through driving efficiency because he understands the agency's cost structures and what the implications of what we do will be for the agencies. ... At the end of the day, it's not about cost reductions with agencies. It's about effectiveness."

The shift to nontraditional isn't just about digital media, Mr. Palmer said. It also includes greater use of such things as in-store media, retailer loyalty programs, having surgeons promote K-C's gloves on their websites and having Nascar pit crews use the company's Wypall towels.

"We have three of the best agencies in the world in my opinion with [WPP's] MindShare, [ Ogilvy & Mather] and JWT," he said. "We should be able to get a lot of our service requirements out of them. But we should also be seeking out unique approaches from unique service providers."
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