Woolworths confirms CMO's exit after just one year

Tony Phillips leaves the supermarket giant after being appointed its first chief marketing officer last March

Tony Phillips
Tony Phillips

Woolworth has confirmed the immediate departure of its first CMO, Tony Phillips, after just one year in the role.

According to a statement from the supermarket giant, his sudden exit comes in the midst of a strategic review of its marketing functions and brand direction aimed at improving its customer engagement and services.

Current head of marketing for Woolworths Liquor Group, Andrew Hicks, will take over as interim CMO while a permanent replacement is found.

On 22 May, just days after Phillips' exit was announced, Woolworths also confimed its director of customer experience, Jess Gill, would depart after three years with the supermarket group and one year in the customer chief's role.

Woolworths has now stated that end-to-end brand control will all be placed in the hands of the next CMO, suggesting Gill will not be directly replaced.

Woolworths released details of a three-year turnaround plan last week aimed at helping reposition the business as a customer-led organisation. The strategy is based around three pillars: Improving the core offer, innovating products and services to better meet customer needs, and initiating new efficiencies.

These new efficiencies have already seen the departure of hundreds of staff and will result in a further 400 full-time positions go.

Related: CMO Interview: Tony Phillips talks cheap cheap, brand strategy and marketing

The news also comes weeks after Woolworths suffered a social media backlash for its Anzac Day campaign, which was subsequently withdrawn.

“We are proud of the work Tony has done in the past 12 months, including the reintroduction of the iconic fresh food people brand and the introduction of ‘Cheap cheap’, which has improved our price perception in the market,” the company said in a statement confirming his departure.

“We are undertaking a strategic review of our marketing functions and our brand direction as we refocus on getting our customers to put Woolworths first every time they shop.”

Phillips was Woolworths’ first-ever CMO, joining the organisation from its rival, Coles, where he held various marketing roles.

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO Australia conversation on LinkedIn: CMO Australia, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+: google.com/+CmoAu

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Blog Posts

Building a human-curated brand

If the FANG (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google) sector and their measured worth are the final argument for the successful 21st Century model, then they are beyond reproach. Fine-tuning masses of algorithms to reduce human touchpoints and deliver wild returns to investors—all with workforces infinitesimally small compared to the giants of the 20th Century—has been proven out.

Will Smith

Co-founder and head of new markets, The Plum Guide

Sustainability trends brands can expect in 2020

​Marketers have made strides this year in sustainability with the number of brands rallying behind the Not Business As Usual alliance for action against climate change being a sign of the times. While sustainability efforts have gained momentum this year, 2020 is shaping up to be the year brands are really held accountable for their work in this area.

Ben King

CSR manager & sustainability expert, Finder

The trouble with Scotty from Marketing

As a Marketer, the ‘Scotty from Marketing’ meme troubles me.

Natalie Robinson

Director of marketing and communications, Melbourne Polytechnic

Well, that's good to know that. Any other news you want to share here? I can't wait to see more.

Phil Godfrey

Queensland appoints first chief customer and digital officer

Read more

It's a pretty interesting article to read. I will learn more about this company later.

Dan Bullock

40 staff and 1000 contracts affected as foodora closes its Australian operations

Read more

If you think it can benefit both consumer and seller then it would be great

Simon Bird

Why Ford is counting on the Internet of Things to drive customer engagement

Read more

It's a good idea. Customers really should control their data. Now I understand why it's important.

Elvin Huntsberry

Salesforce CMO: Modern marketers have an obligation to give customers control of their data

Read more

Instagram changes algorithms every time you get used to them. It really pisses me off. What else pisses me off? The fact that Instagram d...

Nickwood

Instagram loses the like in Australia; industry reacts positively

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in