Mr. Lockhart, most recently the president of BankAmerica Corp.'s global retail bank and previously the CEO of MasterCard International for three years, has seen first-hand how everything from advertising to customer service affects perceptions of a brand.
"They're both service businesses," said Mr. Lockhart, 49, who starts his new post next month. "You're trying to get the product into the customer's hands and get it to work the first time."
Mr. Lockhart will manage advertising, billing, brand management and customer care across all AT&T's lines of business. The creation of the new post reflects AT&T's desire to coordinate all the different ways in which it interacts with its customers.
The new position also will help cut through turf issues among different departments.
"He has the broad marketing experience that will help us redefine the AT&T brand in the new era of `any distance communications' that we are creating," AT&T Chairman-CEO C. Michael Armstrong said in a statement. "Plus, he has the systems and operation experience that will be critical as we integrate Tele-Communications Inc. with our consumer business."
Mr. Lockhart will hold the rank of exec VP and sit on the AT&T Operations Group, the company's most senior executive body.
AT&T has been looking to create and fill a chief marketing officer position since Marilyn Laurie retired as exec VP-brand strategy and marketing communications last April.
"It's about damn time," telecom industry analyst Jeffrey Kagan said of the hiring. "It's encouraging to see they recognize the importance of customer care. It's not something the telecom industry had to worry about before."
Mr. Lockhart declined to comment on what, if any, changes would be made in AT&T's agency roster, which is led by Foote, Cone & Belding and Y&R Advertising, both New York.
Observers speculated that Mr. Lockhart may bring GSD&M, Austin, Texas, onto the roster. He worked with the shop while at MasterCard and brought it with him to BankAmerica. GSD&M currently handles some work for SBC Communications.
HAPPY WITH AT&T'S ADS
Mr. Lockhart gave a thumb's up to the quality of the AT&T ads he has seen as a consumer.
"I think AT&T's ads are really good," he said, adding that they strike "a balance between content and appeal."
Mr. Lockhart was a well-regarded figure in the banking industry. Following a career as a consultant, he worked as CEO of banking group operations for Midland Bank in London. From 1994 through 1997, he was at MasterCard, then headed to