Brent Smart steps into CMO role at Telstra

IAG marketing chief confirmed as the new CMO of Australian telco after Jeremy Nicholas switches roles internally

Brent Smart
Brent Smart

Telstra has confirmed IAG’s chief marketing officer, Brent Smart, as its new CMO following Jeremy Nicholas’ move into a different role.

The ASX-listed telco said Smart will be responsible for its brand, media, sponsor and award programs, consumer, small business and enterprise marketing and proposition development, marketing automation and internal design studio. He officially joins the team in September

As with Nicholas previously, Smart will report to Telstra’s new group executive of consumer and small business once they have been appointed. The role is currently held by Michael Ackland, who has been in the role for nearly four years and takes over the CFO reins once Vicki Brady takes over as Telstra CEO. 

Smart comes with nearly five years’ CMO experience at IAG, working on projects such as the brand transformation of NRMA, which rose from Australia’s 36th strongest brand to fifth in the latest Brand Finance Australia report. These efforts led Smart to be recognised in the top 5 of the CMO50 list in 2020.

Smart’s prior experience includes a decade-long stint working in the US, where he was CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi in New York and the Managing Director of BBDO in San Francisco.

Nicholas, meanwhile, is taking on a fresh challenge as Telstra’s digital channels executive. 

Commenting on his decision to switch insurance for telecoms, Smart said he was attracted to the iconic Telstra brand and its impactful role as one of Australia’s largest organisations.  

“There aren’t many Australian brands that can play as big a role in culture as Telstra. You can feel a real positive momentum in the business, it’s an exciting time to join and I can’t wait to get stuck in,” he said.

Ackland highlighted Smart’s accomplishments as a creative and commercial leader as key reasons for his appointment.

“Brent has a passion for people and storytelling, coupled with a wealth of global experience from working with some of the world’s biggest brands,” he said.

“Brent’s appointment comes at a natural inflection point as we complete our T22 transformation and embark on our new T25 strategy. Telstra plays a critical role in keeping Australians connected and we’re looking forward to seeing how Brent continues to strengthen the Telstra brand through his work.”

Ackland also thank and congratulated Nicholas for his work as our CMO over the last four years. Nicholas’ work saw him recognised multiple times in the top 10 of our CMO50 list of Australia’s most innovative and effective marketing leaders including 5th in the 2021 edition of the list.

“It’s been a transformational period for Telstra’s marketing team, during which he [Jeremy] also led the hugely successful ‘Australia is Why’ brand campaign,” Ackland said. “Jeremy will now bring his deep customer expertise, rich insight and customer focus to our digital channel experiences.”  

An IAG spokesperson told CMO the organisation is now on the hunt for a replacement marketing leader. The search for the next CMO will include both internal and external candidates.

"Brent did a great job for the iconic NRMA brand in particular and delivered some brilliant creative campaigns that shifted the dial. He leaves a very strong and capable team and we wish him the very best in the future," the IAG spokesperson stated.

"The search is now on for a brilliant marketer to work on Australia’s best known and trusted insurance brands. Someone who understands how to deliver terrific campaigns that generate great business outcomes."

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