ATLANTA: Coca-Cola has finally found its long-coveted chief communications officer, naming Charles Holleran to its number-two PR post.
ATLANTA: Coca-Cola has finally found its long-coveted chief
communications officer, naming Charles Holleran to its number-two PR
Looking to erase memories of an embarrassing 1999 and repair its damaged
reputation, the beleaguered beverage behemoth had been searching for
someone to serve under global public affairs chief Carl Ware for some
time (PRWeek, April 24). To that end, Holleran boasts blue-chip brand
expertise as well as experience running global PR operations.
Holleran’s PR career spans more than 30 years, 20 of them spent at IBM,
where he rose to group director of communications for Big Blue’s US
He also held VP positions at Digital Equipment Corp. and The Travelers
Since 1998, he has served as managing director of global communications
at PricewaterhouseCoopers, where he oversaw a 100-strong global
Holleran will assume worldwide responsibility for internal and external
communications - including PR, media relations, issues management,
international external affairs and employee communications.
’We are determined to be open and responsive in the way we communicate,’
said chairman/CEO Doug Daft in a press release. ’Charlie Holleran will
play a leading role in making that happen.’
While he declined to comment specifically on the job, Holleran said, ’If
you work in communications and you had to list five companies you wanted
to work for, Coke would be at the top of the list.’ He said he was first
contacted about the job in late March and will begin work June 1.
Heidrick & Struggles handled the search.
Although Holleran has no experience in the beverage industry, one
analyst said that shouldn’t pose a problem. ’Good communications skills
certainly transcend any one field,’ said Gary Hemphill, VP at Beverage
Marketing Corporation. ’Obviously it may take some time to get up to
speed in the industry, but I don’t see that as a high hurdle.’
Holleran is certainly no stranger to tough times. He was at IBM during
its drawn-out battle with the Justice Department, and while at Digital
he handled PR during its patent infringement lawsuit against Intel. ’(My
career) has run between exhilaration and terror,’ he quipped.
Last week, Daft reassured business leaders in London that Coke had
learned from a series of blunders in Europe last year. Meanwhile, in
Atlanta, a group of former and current black workers launched a boycott
aimed at forcing the beverage giant to settle a racial discrimination