REDMOND, WA: Simon Sproule has resigned his post as VP of corporate communications at Microsoft to take a position to head communications for the Renault-Nissan Alliance in Paris. He is being replaced by Frank Shaw, current president of the worldwide account Microsoft at Waggener Edstrom.
Sproule joined Microsoft in March after five years in the communications department at Nissan, and a lifetime career of working in the automotive sector. PRWeek profiled Sproule and his position at Microsoft in its June issue. His new role with the Renault-Nissan Alliance, which was created in 1999, is a newly created position that will report directly to Renault-Nissan CEO and chairman, Carlos Ghosn.
Pam Edstrom, cofounder and executive VP of WE, will helm the Microsoft's account for the interim.
“There's nothing secret or mysterious about my decision to move,” Sproule told PRWeek. “I love the auto industry and felt in the end that I was better to get back to that business.”
Shaw will begin at Microsoft on August 24 and in his new role will report to Mich Mathews, SVP for Microsoft's central marketing group. Shaw has been working on the Microsoft business for 14 years with WE. Currently, WE handles all of Microsoft's US PR, except for work on Xbox and Zune, Shaw noted. Microsoft also works with Edelman and Weber Shandwick in the US, among its other firms.
“My expectation is the relationship that Microsoft has with Waggener Edstrom and its other agencies will not change,” Shaw said. “The work that Sproule has been doing in setting up the right team and the right priorities is absolutely the right step.”
Shaw said it was “too early” to discuss what his strategy and priorities will be at Microsoft. But he noted, the company's biggest priorities right now include Microsoft's upcoming Windows launch, its recently released search engine Bing, Office 2010, and upgrades to the Xbox.
“This will be a different job than the one I'm doing now,” Shaw said. “The job I'm doing now is being a trusted adviser to Microsoft as an agency. And the job I will be doing is being a communications person at the company. And those are two very different things.”
Sproule's new position was created to enhance the communications for Alliance as more of the new technologies being developed by Nissan and Renault are happening through the Alliance, he said. The Alliance was created 10 years ago. Sproule will not have direct responsibility for communications at Nissan or Renault, and both of those teams will remain as they are. He will be tasked with communicating the Alliance's role in areas like electric cars, purchasing, manufacturing, and other technological advancements.
“They decided to create this position given the changes and consolidation in the auto industry right now,” Sproule said. “More and more is happening in the center of the Alliance and then being deployed in each company, and they recognized the need to communicate this internally and externally.”
Updated July 28, 2009, 2:49pm