But that's just what Joseph Tripodi, who joined Bank of New York last month as its first chief marketing officer, has done. "I like living dangerously," joked Mr. Tripodi.
It's not such a stretch from his last job as chief marketing officer of the spirits and wine group of Seagram Co. He's been tapped to build a global marketing function at Bank of New York, a similar charge to previous posts. "As marketers, we say `a widget is a widget is a widget,"' he said.
Bank of New York Co. is parent to the oldest bank in the U.S.-founded in 1784 by Alexander Hamilton-and is one of the world leaders in trust and custody services, the handling of securities for large institutional investors. But the bank has grown and morphed into a global diversified financial-services company, and it needs to tap more marketing power to tell its story, said Mr. Tripodi.
"We believe marketing will take a more important role going forward. That's one of the [job's] seductions for me," he said.
"He brings with him a wealth of global marketing and branding experience in both business-to-business and consumer environments," said bank President Gerald Hassel in a statement.
Mr. Tripodi started his career in marketing at IBM Corp. in Boston shortly after graduating from Harvard University. After three years at IBM and attending graduate school at the London School of Economics, he joined Mobil Corp., where he held a variety of international jobs in marketing, planning and business development. He left Mobil in 1989 to join MasterCard International-where in 10 years he rose to exec VP-global marketing, products and services-and moved to Seagram in 1999, shortly after he became chairman of the Association of National Advertisers.
The detour into liquor marketing is not as strange as it seems, said Mr. Tripodi. "They didn't need an expert in the liquor industry. They needed someone with marketing experience," he said.
That marketing savvy was tested by a decision to buck a decade-old voluntary ban on advertising liquor on TV with a campaign for Captain Morgan rum, which spoofed the 2000 election. The "Captain President" effort got noticed, even by the pundits on "Meet the Press." "I've always been curious how many votes the Captain got," said Mr. Tripodi.
He left the company last year, after Seagram sold the spirits business to Diageo and Pernod Ricard.
He's begun to sort out some priorities for Bank of New York. Already, customer relationship marketing is looming as important tool to reach the company's constituency of corporations and institutions, he said.
"A big part of the job is on the business-to-business side, how to use CRM in that part of the world," said Mr. Tripodi, adding that "there will be no neglect" of the retail banking side of the business.
Name: Joseph V. Tripodi
Now: Chief marketing officer, Bank of New York
Challenge: To build a global marketing function across various retail and corporate business segments