ATLANTA: Looking to erase memories of an embarrassing 1999 and give a voice to its new PR strategy, Coca-Cola is searching for a right-hand man for public affairs chief Carl Ware.
ATLANTA: Looking to erase memories of an embarrassing 1999 and give
a voice to its new PR strategy, Coca-Cola is searching for a right-hand
man for public affairs chief Carl Ware.
According to a spec sheet obtained by PRWeek, the new post, chief
communications officer (CCO), will operate at the VP level and report to
Ware, who rescinded his resignation and accepted the public affairs job
earlier this year (PRWeek, Jan. 10).
The vacancy resulted when VP of corporate communications Randy Donaldson
- loyal to ousted CEO M. Douglas Ivester - was reassigned during last
winter’s management shakeup. Donaldson is now executive assistant to
North American president Ralph Cooper.
Because of restructuring in its PR department, Coke spokesperson Robert
Baskin said it ’wouldn’t be fair to say (the CCO post) is Randy’s
position.’ Regardless, the beleaguered beverage behemoth has granted the
position serious weight. The spec sheet says the CCO hire is part of a
’sweeping effort’ to improve Coke’s financial performance and
According to the job description, the new CCO will be asked to develop
an overall communications strategy that deals with corporate reputation
and brand presence, speed up message development and delivery and act
’as a central resource to a global network of communicators charged with
tailoring messages and mediums to local markets.’
The job presents more than its share of challenges. Last week, the
company announced that it lost dollars 58 million in the first quarter
of 2000, mostly from one-time reorganization charges. And the more
nebulous issue of corporate reputation remains a thorn in Coke’s side:
in Fortune’s latest ’Most Admired’ survey, Coke fell out of the overall
top 10 for the first time in a decade.
Ware’s appointment was widely touted as the first major step towards
repairing Coke’s reputation, which had been tarnished by a contamination
crisis, racial discrimination lawsuits and various other PR gaffes
during the Ivester era.
One beverage industry analyst said Coke’s experienced PR staff is
holding up fine. ’In spite of some bumps and bruises, Coke’s PR is in
very capable hands,’ said Beverage Marketing Corporation VP Doug
While Hemphill believes that there is ’a sense of urgency’ to fill the
position, Baskin would not give a timetable for the search.