Mark Buckman moves from CommBank to Telstra

In one of the the biggest marketing personnel moves of the year, Mark Buckman, chief marketing officer of Commonwealth Bank of Australia, is to head Telstra’s marketing.

The shakeup also sees Telstra’s chief marketing office relabelled Telstra Innovation, Products and Marketing. Kate McKenzie, whose new title is Group MD – Telstra Innovation, Products and Marketing, said:

“Mark is moving to Telstra after five years at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, where as chief marketing officer he reinvigorated the bank’s brand, transformed its marketing, helped revamped the online channels and strengthened the bank’s focus on customer service.”

“Mark joins Telstra with a track record of achieving outstanding business results and helping to drive the CBA’s focus on improved customer service – two strengths that will be highly valued at Telstra, and by our customers and shareholders as we become a true sales and marketing company that is faster to market and more focused on our customers.

“Mark’s appointment now completes the talented line-up we have built in our Brand & Strategic Marketing team with Mark Collis and Inese Kingsmill also joining us this year.

“I’m looking forward to an exciting 2011 for the marketing arm of our group as the team brings our new brand positioning to life and works with the business units to reinvigorate our approach to marketing to help Telstra become more attuned to our customers and shine even brighter in the market.”

Buckman – who starts in late March – said: “While I am sad to be leaving CBA where I am very proud of what we have accomplished over the past 5 years, I am very excited to be joining Telstra at this exciting time in the company’s transformation. The telecommunications industry is going through rapid change and brands have never been more important to help attract and retain customers. I look forward to contributing to Telstra’s success.”

Buckman’s bold strategy for CommBank saw the brand undertake a global search for its ad agency, eventually settling on Goodby, Silverstein & Partners in San Francisco. The ads – initially featuring the antics of an inept fictional US ad agency – were derided by many within the industry, although the brand’s key marketing metrics improved and CommBank was named B&T’s marketing team of the year. CommBank was also the most awarded client at this year’s ADMA Awards.

CommBank has since moved to a similarly distinctive black and white style of ads, with several directed by French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet.

Buckman’s move appears to have taken CBA by surprise, with Barbara Chapman, Group Executive Human Resources and Group Services taking temporary charge. She said: “Mark is a strong and unique marketing talent who over the past five years has taken many courageous steps to significantly transform marketing within the Commonwealth Bank. He leaves behind a great team, and has made a real difference to our brand internally and externally.”

“Although we are disappointed to see Mark leave, we acknowledge that this is a wonderful opportunity for further career advancement and we wish him well in his future career

The CBA statement said: “While the Bank considers its next steps Ms Chapman will assume responsibility for overseeing the Marketing function.”

Key staff in Telstra’s marketing communications group including Mark Collis, John Turner and Inese Kingsmill will report in to Buckman.

The recruitment process was conducted by Hourigan International. Anthony Hourigan told Mumbrella: “Telstra has now rebuilt itself a team with strategic and creative firepower that’s second to none. Mark is the most senior marketing leader in the region. Kate McKenzie has a coup here.”

The appointment will trigger furious speculation within agencies on Telstra and CommBank’s rosters – and those that would like to be.

Telstra has already signalled a review of its extensive roster. Ad agencies include DDB, BWM, Ogilvy and Three Drunk Monkeys. DDB is currently working on a campaign around Telstra’s new brand positioning, work which previosuly would probably have gone to Ogilvy.

Along with Goodby Silverstein, Buckman’s key agencies at CommBank were BMF and media agency Ikon.

Buckman’s appointment caps a remarkable four month transformation for the Telstra marketing team, which saw the departure of its most senior marketers Amanda Johnston-Pell and Chantal Walker. The telco brought in Microsoft’s head of strategy Inese Kingsmill as director of Business Unit Marketing & Communications and former ECD Mark Collis as creative chief.

Buckman is also deputy chairman of the Australian Association of National Advertisers.

Buckman told Mumbrella it was too early to discuss the roster. He said: “I’m sure that Mark and Inese are already on top of that. I’m not even yet familiar with all of the work of all of the agencies on the roster.”

He added: “I’ve been very impressed by all the executive team and their vision for the future of the organisation.”


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