Bob Connolly Will Leave at End of Year

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CINCINNATI (AdAge.com) -- Bob Connolly will retire as chief marketing officer of Wal-Mart Stores effective at the end of calendar 2005, a spokeswoman said today.

No replacement has been named, she said, adding that the company will be looking internally and externally for a replacement.

"His talent and expertise will certainly be missed as well as his keen sense of being able to balance merchandising with the needs of our customers," she said. She said Mr. Connolly had indicated the move would allow him to spend more time traveling and with his family.

Joined Wal-Mart in 1989
Mr. Connolly first joined Wal-Mart in 1989 and has been there ever since, except for a two-year stint with now-defunct mass merchandiser Montgomery Ward in the mid-1990s. All of his prior experience came in merchandising rather than marketing.

Rumors of Mr. Connolly’s impending retirement had circulated around the retailer’s Bentonville, Ark., headquarters since early this year, but Mr. Connolly told Advertising Age in January that he had no such plans.

Shifting marketing tactics
The move comes amid a series of marketing shifts for Wal-Mart in recent months, including a major public relations blitz countering critics of the retail giant and a heavier emphasis on feel-good image-oriented ads over its traditional ads focusing on everyday low prices. More recently, Wal-Mart has adopted a sharper price focus, even taking the unusual-for-Wal-Mart tact of airing TV ads touting prices on individual items.

Omnicom Group's GSD&M, Austin, Texas, and independent Bernstein Rein, Kansas City, handle Wal-Mart advertising. Omnicom's Fleishman-Hillard, St. Louis, handles public relations.

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