Fairfax appoints Whitehead to lead consumer marketing unit ahead of move to tabloid format

Fairfax consumer marketing head Robert Whitehead

Fairfax Media has promoted former Sydney Morning Herald editor Robert Whitehead into the newly created role of head of marketing and communication in a move that seems to reduce the likelihood that the company will go externally for a high profile chief marketing officer.

In June, the Australian reported that the company was looking to make the CMO appointment. While Whitehead’s role is within Fairfax Metro – which includes the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age –  it appears unlikely to leave room for a CMO across the whole of Fairfax.

In response to the question as to whether the organisation was still looking to fill such a role, in a statement made to Mumbrella, Jack Matthews said: “I believe this structure is the best approach for us. It allows us to form a best-practice marketing group while recognising the experience and potential we have inside the company.”

A key task for the new consumer marketing unit will be the launch of compact editions of The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald which the company says will be early next year although market speculation still suggests will be sooner.

Whitehead held the editorship of the SMH for five years, moving into the role of director of marketing and newspaper sales for the paper in 2005. He launched marketing of the iPad edition of the SMH and Age as well as marketing the mobile apps for the paper.

The move is part of Fairfax’s preparations for the launch of Metro Media’s anticipated metered digital subscriptions model next year.

The recently appointed head of Fairfax’s trade marketing Chelsea Wymer, will be working closely with Whitehead’s team. Wymer will continue to report to Harrison.

Whitehead’s role covers brand, promotion, sponsorship, subscriptions acquisition, retention and communication.

Metro Media CEO Jack Matthews said in a press release: “The creation of this new consumer marketing group led by Robert Whitehead ensures we have the marketing skills and resources needed to take us to the next stage of Metro Media’s development, which encompasses a raft of innovative projects and initiatives.”


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