Prudential folds comms under marketing as DeFillippo retires

Financial services company becomes the latest organization to merge communications under marketing as comms lead Bob DeFillippo gets set to retire.

NEWARK, NJ: Prudential Financial CCO Bob DeFillippo will retire in 2015 after 20 years at the company. Comms and marketing will merge under ad head Colin McConnell, who takes on the new role of chief brand officer.

DeFillippo, who joined Prudential in 1994, will step down in the first quarter of 2015. In McConnell’s new position, he will oversee global brand identity, PR, domestic brand marketing and advertising, employee communications, and executive event planning. Scot Hoffman is Prudential's VP of global communications.

"Prudential is really going to make a concerted effort to get the consolidation process right and retain the integrity of what makes public relations powerful," said DeFillippo. "They recognize the value that global communications adds to the business."

Prior to Prudential, DeFillippo served as director of public affairs for the American Association of Retired Persons. DeFillippo currently serves as an adjunct professor at New York University’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies. He plans on continuing to teach following his retirement from Prudential.

"Few people have had the opportunity to be involved in a company as long as I have and to experience major changes such as bringing the company public, the financial crisis, and going into China," said DeFillippo. "It's something I feel fortunate to have experienced and that I'm very proud of."

McConnell has been with Prudential since 1991, and he took on the head of advertising role more than five years ago. During his tenure at the company, he has helped outline the brand’s identity and also served as an executive speechwriter and creative director for Prudential’s in-house advertising firm.

"As CCO, Bob has been instrumental in shaping Prudential’s reputation. As he retires, Prudential is one of the most admired companies in the world," said the company's vice chairman Mark Grier in a statement. "Bob has led the company’s internal and external communications during some of the most significant events in the company’s history, including its demutualization, the financial crisis and the company’s expansion into key international markets."

Last year, DeFillippo spoke to PRWeek about the potential pitfalls of merging communications under marketing, following a spate of similar consolidations at companies such as Cigna, SAP, Visa, Allstate, and FedEx.

"This is a big mistake. It sets up a situation where important opportunities will be missed that can only be obtained through earned media and objective reporting – not through marketing, sponsored, or branded content," he said.

DeFillippo questioned the effectiveness of a combined marketing and communications unit in the event of a company crisis. "Reputations are not built through advertising campaigns," he added.

This story was updated on December 19 with quotes from DeFillippo.

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