Coca-Cola’s Canadian VP of marketing to leave amid global restructuring

The beverage giant has revealed the progress of a realignment geared towards driving efficiency through a more centralized structure.

Coca-Cola’s strategic realignment is taking shape, and the move to a more centralized structure based in the U.S. has resulted in the impending departure of its Canadian marketing lead as most senior marketing roles shift to the Atlanta, Georgia HQ.

In its latest earnings report, Coca-Cola elaborated on its progress towards “building a networked global organization,” saying it will optimize its marketing spend to focus on efficiencies that will allow it to strengthen its strongest brands and quickly attain a strong foothold in the “most compelling” growth opportunities.

The restructuring is based around “the center,” which will provide strategy, governance and scale for global initiatives. Meanwhile, the company’s operating units are focused on eliminating duplication of resources and scaling new products more quickly, while global marketing category leadership teams will primarily focus on innovation, marketing efficiency and effectiveness.

All three are supported by Platform Services, which will focus on “providing efficient and scaled global services and capabilities,” including transactional work, data management, consumer analytics, digital commerce and social and digital hubs.

In a conference call Wednesday discussing the company’s Q4 and full-year financial results, chairman and CEO James Quincey added that its global creative and media agency review, which began in December, will also eliminate duplication and drive efficiency. Like the internal restructuring, the company says resources it gains from efficiencies will be used to fuel reinvestment in its brands, and Quincey added that research and digitizing its business were other areas it was looking at.

The company is expected to cut 11% of its global workforce as part of the restructuring, and spent nearly half a billion on severance in 2020.

A company spokesperson told strategy that more details of how the restructuring impacts its Canadian operations will be available in the coming weeks, but did confirm that as part of the global restructure, Michael Samoszewski, VP of marketing in Canada, is leaving the company after nearly two decades.

“With most of the senior marketing roles moving to Atlanta, this was the best choice for both him and his family. We appreciate his 18 years of service and wish him luck on his next endeavour.”

“I’ve been extremely proud of leading and working with the exceptional marketing team at Coca-Cola Canada to create and foster Canada’s most loved beverage brands and generate industry leading growth,” Samoszewski told strategy in an email, adding that he will be supporting the global transition through the end of February before pursuing new opportunities. “It’s been a wonderful experience working with so many different agencies, customers and partners throughout my tenure and I truly wish the Coca-Cola Company and our Canadian bottler continued success in the future.”

Flexibility and efficiency aim to fuel growth opportunities

The company reported Q4 net income of $1.46 billion on Wednesday, down from $2.04 billion a year earlier. It says that the decline in selling, general and administrative expense for the quarter was affected by timing and the phasing effect of marketing reductions over a year.

In the conference call, John Murphy, Coca-Cola’s EVP and CFO, said the company has become more flexible in its spending, learning a lot from the pandemic year and “turning the tap on and off” with much greater fluency than in the past. He says it will continue to focus on what its markets need, both in total investment terms, as well as in the mix of spend that’s appropriate for each of these markets.

Quincey added that Coca-Cola has been reintroducing marketing spend that had been reduced at the start of the pandemic in a targeted way, identifying opportunities to invest across countries, categories and brands.

The company has also streamlined its portfolio from 400 to 200 master brands (including dropping Tab and Zico coconut water) as part of an effort to allocate investments to areas of greatest opportunity.

Quincey says targeted investments will leverage its leader brands more effectively, while also converting challenger and explorer brands into leaders more quickly and consistently, such as sparkling and mineral water offerings, a space he says remains robust. Other areas of focus in its innovation pipeline includes a new taste and design for Coke Zero Sugar, the expansion of Coca Cola’s coffee beverages and “regional bets across categories” like the expansion of the Authentic Tea House franchise across Asia.

“To enhance our marketing effectiveness, we are building targeted, experiential campaigns that are data-driven and occasion-based, and always on,” Quincey reports, citing the first-ever global Sprite campaign, “Let’s Be Clear,” which is positioned around inviting drinkers to reset and refresh, and also a new Fanta initiative to make snacking moments more playful.

When it comes to the pandemic, Quincey says COVID-19 has undoubtedly expedited the shift to a digital world and Coke is structuring the organization around this opportunity.

“We’ve been digitizing the enterprise for several years and have stepped up our evolution into an organization that can skillfully execute marketing, commercial, sales, and distribution both offline and online,” he says.