Coke’s leading marketing executive in North America is retiring

Linda J. Dodson

Dive Brief:

  • The Coca-Cola Company’s highest ranking marketing official in North America, Geoff Cottrill — who has been SVP of strategic marketing since 2018 — is retiring on June 1, Ad Age reported, citing an internal memo.
  • The company has not announced a replacement, a spokesperson told Ad Age. Alpa Sutaria, VP of strategy and planning in North America, will oversee marketing in the region while the search is underway, the memo read.
  • Prior to joining Coca-Cola, Cottrill worked as president of MullenLowe Boston. He also previously served as CMO of Converse and a VP of global marketing at Starbucks. Cottrill was group director of entertainment marketing at Coca-Cola from 1996-2005, per his LinkedInprofile.

Dive Insight:

Cottrill’s departure comes at a tumultuous time for the beverage giant, with marketing and sales in a significant retrenchment.

On the sales front, Coca-Cola has been hit hard by the global coronavirus pandemic as restaurants and entertainment venues around the globe have been shut down. The company reported that global volumes dropped 25% in April as the pandemic spread.

As the economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic continues, and with the major live sporting events Coca-Cola sponsors, including the Olympics, having been postponed or canceled, the company is pulling back on marketing, including recently stopping all marketing in Great Britain.

Cottrill’s departure also follows some recent global restructuring of the executive team at The Coca-Cola Company. In December, the organization revealed plans to bring back the role of global chief marketing officer, two years after retiring it. Manolo Arroyo took on the recreated global post.

While Coca-Cola appears to still be trying to find its footing in the shadow of a worldwide health crisis, its major competitor PepsiCo has quickly shifted gears. The rival this week launched two e-commerce sites that were developed in just 30 days to take advantage of how consumers are shopping more online while stuck at home, and how snacking has become a bigger part of their eating habits. However, PepsiCo has also pulled back on any nonessential advertising and marketing given the realities of the current environment.

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