IBM hires Andy Whitehouse as CCO

Whitehouse joins from Willis Towers Watson and will report to IBM's global marcomms lead Jon Iwata.

WHITE PLAINS, NY: IBM has appointed Andy Whitehouse to the role of VP of global communications and CCO, reporting to SVP of marketing and communications Jon Iwata.

Whitehouse was most recently global director of marketing, communications, and knowledge management at Willis Towers Watson, the global risk advisory, human capital, and insurance broking firm. He also spent nearly a decade in various roles at McKinsey & Company, including co-leading the firm's publishing and communications function.

In addition, Whitehouse spent five years as a policymaker in the UK government. He is expected to begin his role at IBM in April, with responsibility for the company’s communications function as it navigates another round of significant business transformation.

Jeff DeMarrais has also joined IBM’s communications team as VP and chief external relations officer, reporting to Whitehouse. DeMarrais will lead global external relations. He was most recently CCO at CA Technologies, and prior to that was CCO of GE's global healthcare business.

DeMarrais spent 16 years at GE and pioneered its use of social and digital techniques. In total, he has more than 20 years of communications experience. DeMarrais started at IBM last week.

"We’re bringing in two leaders with different backgrounds, where normally we would grow from within, in recognition of the transformation of IBM itself," Iwata said. "Technology is such a part of everyone’s lives now. It’s not a data center alone - it’s integral to the core of business."

He noted IBM’s recent acquisition of the Weather Company’s digital assets and its push into areas including healthcare, marketing, public safety, and security to illustrate the company’s transition from a pure hardware and software services operation that targeted IT buyers.

"We’ve invested in non-traditional hardware and software services," added Iwata. "We’re remixing into that future and every part of IBM reflects that. [Whitehouse] grew up in that world of thought leadership, management science, business change, and C-suite issues. That’s important to where we’re going now."

In January 2013, IBM promoted VP of digital strategy and development Ben Edwards to the newly created position of VP of global communications and digital marketing, where he oversaw comms under Iwata.

In August 2014, Edwards returned to being global VP of digital marketing, reporting to one of Iwata’s direct reports, John Gallagher, VP of performance marketing and market development.

Edwards was succeeded as IBM’s VP of global communications by Mike Fay and in August of last year, he left IBM to become VP of PayPal.com. Fay will now report to Whitehouse.

"[Edwards] is a digital marketer at heart," said Iwata. "I asked him to step in as [comms leader] when an injection of digital was really important. He wants to get into digital commerce and wants to be a business leader."

The Weather Company acquisition brought the media and data group’s former CEO, David Kenny, to IBM as GM of IBM Watson. The company has built a business around the supercomputer, which is featured in recent broadcast TV ad campaigns.

He was previously CEO of digital agency Digitas from 1997 to 2010, steering the firm through its acquisition by French holding company Publicis Groupe.

"I have known [Kenny] for a long time and have definitely sought him out to bounce ideas off him," said Iwata.

IBM also recently acquired three digital marketing and creative agencies - Resource/Ammirati, Aperto, and exc.io - to embed in its Interactive Experience internal digital unit, which, according to AdAge, is already the biggest digital agency network in the world, with 2015 revenues of $1.9 billion.

"It is a significant and strategically important digital agency," said Iwata, who explained that IBM doesn’t plan to become a direct competitor to advertising agencies; rather it is more in competition with the likes of Oracle, Adobe, and Salesforce in the customer engagement and analytics space.

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