Kimberly-Clark Shaking Up Marketing Department

Kimberly-Clark, the maker of Huggies, Kotex and Kleenex, is adding three new global marketing executives, the company announced yesterday. Kimberly-Clark is planning to transform its marketing organization to keep up with competitors, including Procter & Gamble. That's what Tony Palmer, CMO since September, told financial analysts at Kimberly Clark's 2007 Analyst Day last week.

New appointments to K-C reporting to Palmer are Andrew Bienkowski, who will take on the newly created position of vice president of global brands. Bienkowski, a previous CMO for Coca-Cola on its Coke, Fanta and Sprit brands, will lead brand strategies on consumer and professional businesses for K-C.

Also joining is Roger Chacko, who had been senior vice president of strategy development in North America at Mars. He's taking on the new role of vice president/global marketing knowledge and intelligence--a position that has been described as focusing on market research.

Clive Sirkin will join K-C to manage ad and marketing agency relationships as vice president/global integrated marketing communications--also a new position. Sirkin was previously the group managing director of Leo Burnett, working on the Kellogg account with Palmer, who had previously been managing director of Kellogg in the U.K.



K-C is reportedly planning to boost its marketing spend $200 million by 2009. In addition, according to Bear Stearns analyst Justin Hott, Palmer identified four marketing focus areas: developing talent within the organization; moving toward the more non-traditional marketing outlets, such as the Internet; capitalizing on K-C's global scale; and sharing best practices throughout the organization.

The strategy compares to a company that before September hadn't even had a CMO on its roster of executive positions--a job which had been omitted, even as many competitors already had CMOs in place for years.

For instance, under Jim Stengel, P&G's often-praised CMO, the company was one of the first to dabble in now common marketing tacks such as online product launches, in-home marketing research and buzz marketing--much of what K-C is just now talking about employing.

Product-wise, changes can already be observed. Placing a renewed focus on product innovation, K-C recently launched Little Swimmers with SPF protection--a category first in the diaper/swim pants segment. One of its most important brands, K-C's top-selling Huggies diaper/baby care products have come under increasing pressure from P&G's Pampers, which has been steadily gaining share in the diaper category since Pampers introduced training pants several years ago.

According to Bear Stearns' Hott, Palmer said K-C's consumer marketing efforts would consist of "creating a promise for the consumer about the product, exciting them about it, and then delivering on that promise." Seemingly, that "promise" could translate to other marketing efforts long used by competitors, such as the money-back guarantee employed by P&G for its Old Spice deodorant brand--among others--or the testimonial-style ads often used by Unilever on Dove SKUs such as bar soaps and antiperspirant/deodorants.

K-C management also presented analysts with a virtual reality shopping aisle simulator, allowing executives to examine how customers scan aisles and shop, which in turn will help the company form more profitable retail partnerships, especially in supermarkets.

Brand-wise, two of the biggest areas of concentration for K-C will be the Huggies diaper brand, Kleenex tissues, and feminine care brand Kotex.

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