NEW YORK: Paul Taaffe has joined Groupon as global head of communications nearly 13 months after resigning as global chairman and CEO of Hill & Knowlton.
“It's a disruptive company, and the people who love it really love it,” he said about Groupon. “I do think it could be better understood.”
Taaffe said the Chicago-based company has to increase public understanding of how it functions. Groupon attracted unwanted attention from federal regulators last summer over accounting metrics used in its initial public offering filings. Groupon's stock slid on Thursday the day after it reported its Q4 2011 earnings.
“With every massively disruptive company – like Amazon, Google, and Facebook – it takes a little while for people to understand how they work and to understand how to assess success for the company,” he said. “People are still trying to figure out how to evaluate Groupon.”
Taaffe will be based in New York. He will work closely with company CEO Andrew Mason but report to its CMO.
Brad Williams, former VP of global communications at Groupon, joined Weber Shandwick to lead its global technology practice this week. Williams left Groupon after a three-month stint at the company last August.
Taaffe said he is still evaluating the company's communications reporting structure and its agency relationships. It has worked with Brunswick Group throughout the IPO process, he added.
Taaffe also cited his international experience and previous work with senior marketers as assets in his new role, saying the company has “hired a lot of talent” in the past six to nine months.
“It's an exciting and interesting company and they're moving incredibly quickly,” he noted. “It's not very hierarchical, it's very young at heart, and talking to their senior managers you get the feeling that anything is possible. I'm afraid you don't find that at many other companies.”
Taaffe resigned from Hill & Knowlton last January, two months after the agency merged with sister WPP Group firm Public Strategies. Days before that, former chair and director MaryLee Sachs also left the firm. Jack Martin, founding chairman of Austin, TX-based Public Strategies, was named global chairman and CEO of H&K at that time.