Do you know this man? No, he’s not Karl Malden. He is a BMOC in the halls of business. He was paid more than $200 million to surrender the CEO position at the Home Depot almost three years ago to the day. Within months he was hired as CEO of the “new” Chrysler, following its take-out by Cerberus Management. After a few days on the job, he had the balls to take a week’s vacation.
Do you think Robert Nardelli is chastened by any of this? Do you not believe he will be running OfficeMax or something like that sometime in 2010?
Nardelli is symbolic of Marketing’s second-biggest challenge in 2010 (#1 will be revealed tomorrow). An old white guy, living in the shadow of the Greatest Generation, dominating the C-level, boardrooms, and executive decisions at American businesses large and small. Out of touch with the dynamics of customers, technology, and media. Wouldn’t know a good marketing strategy if it hit him right in the nuts. He’d make a great TSA Director, coming up with slapdash ways to make the airport security experience as “unpredictable” as TSA management has publicly avowed.
In the meantime, we are subjected to quotes like this from the unbiased COO at Cerberus: "[Nardelli is] one of the world’s best operating executives and a proven leader.” Eat me.
[Side note: See this December 2008 post about the out-of-touch Bank of America board. In 2009, nine of them – more than half the board – were thrown off. Not all of them were replaced. You can thank me later ;) ]
We probably have a decade to go until the all clear has been sounded in the executive suite. Until then, the majority of marketers will continue to struggle to get their ideas funded, to be truly innovative (a Facebook “fan” page doesn’t count), to keep a CMO employed more than 22 months, to build strong brands that customers will pay a premium for.
And don’t be fooled by the likes of Disney, which recently added Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg to its board of directors. One board member out of 13 will have exactly how much impact on day-to-day operations? She already has her hands full trying to keep Zuckerberg in line (note to self: think of changing name to Horneberg). And P.S. She’s only been at this interwebs stuff since 2001. She worked in government before that. Now there’s a progressive “industry” for you.
A corporate stiff who can collaborate with Marketing? That would be Disney-like magic, indeed.