5 Ad Execs Marissa Mayer Might Poach to Replace Kathy Savitt

News Marissa Mayer has tanked Yahoo! CMO De Castro has the tech rumor mill working overtime to figure who will replace the controversial ad man. Mayer’s hiring of the X Googler was one of her most questionable CEO moves anyway, and with a $109 million dollar compensation price tag, one that makes my head spin.

At CES courtesy .michael.newman.

At CES courtesy .michael.newman.

Business Insider reported yesterday on the Yahoo boss’ decision to fire De Castro calling it “Her $109 Million Dollar Mistake.” Jay Yarow went on to portray Mayer’s 15 months with Henrique in tow;

“His time at Yahoo yielded little in the way of results, as far as we can tell. Yahoo’s ad business remained stagnant, and De Castro was clashing with Mayer and her top executives.”

I know most of you out there are thinking; “Why didn’t she just give the millions to me?” Well, for all the good the former Google display ad dude did Yahoo, at least donating $100+ million would have garnered better PR than the reportedly obnoxious blabbermouth detractors have flamed repeatedly on the social networks. There’s even a Twitter Fake Henrique as a monument to his… Well, what ever he has going on. However disliked or mediocre the executive may be however, he’s a lot richer than any of us will ever be. Now the only meaningful question is; “Who will Mayer poach or promote to fix this Yahoo! mess?”

Given massive millions failed to solve for Yahoo revenue build before, here’s my suggested poaching expedition for Marissa!

Candidates in order of potential/poachability.

Tom NaughtonNumber One Tom Naughton, Brand Strategy Director at the fast moving Dro5a ad agency, just might be the polished dark horse Mayer needs to fast forward not only Yahoo’s Ad strategy, but the overall marketing plan for the future. He’s helped propel Droga5 into the ad limelight these last few years, the company now represents Coca Cola, Unilever, Motorola and Mayer’s former employer Google. Now here’s a poaching target to get Yahoo out of the ad soup. Will he take $125 million for some souped up strategy and business excellence? I’ll bet $100 he would.

Quote from Naughton recently:

“I think we’ll see more brands adopting honest approaches to marketing. People are getting sick of gimmicks and jargon from marketers, and are begging advertisers to cut the crap. So everything from their communications to their innovation approach will be impacted.”

Adam BerkeNumber Two   @adamberke Adam Berke, on the founding team of AdRoll. I’ve talked with Adam a few times, he’s razor sharp, energetic, and has done all the homework across the spectrum of advertising. What’s a big bonus for Yahoo should $100 plus million entice him, he’s a great speaker who’s SES, SMX, OMMA and many other key events. He’s a lot less likely to use metaphors and terms like Russian Whores to characterize business deals. Etc. Will he leave AdRoll? $150 million might put a sparkle in his eye.

Besides, Yahoo could use the clean cut, cool, surfer dude good looks of Berke (pictured right via his Facebook). Here’s a quote from a VenturBeat article in December:

“There could be no more predictable prediction than calling 2014 “the year of mobile,” but there is one underappreciated trend. That is how much the roster of major players is set to change in the mobile ad ecosystem.”

Jane ReissNumber Three Jane Reiss of the legendary and fast re-emerging Grey ad agency. Jane is a veteran business development exec brought on to spearhead Grey’ business development efforts. If there’s anything Yahoo needs right now it’s developed relationships in the ad space. Add to this Jane’s relatively unknown status comparatively, a big dose of ambition, and the incentive to really make a huge difference, and this exec is a good choice for potential. She’s got relationships galore, having worked with American Express, American Airlines, Google, JetBlue, Travelocity and Coca-Cola. Plug in a clue from me for Melissa (Yahoo Travel’s stagnancy) and Jane’s expertise in travel… well, there’s many stones unturned in the Yahoo creek bed. Will she work for less than $100 million? Let’s start her off at half that (you negotiate Jane). Catch Jane on Twitter @jreissnyc (work on that profile girl, you’re making me look bad)

Here’s a statement from Reiss from her appointment at Grey press release just recently:

“I am delighted to join the Grey New York team whose vision for what a contemporary marketing organization can be has made the agency a creative and new business powerhouse.”

Andy AzulaNumber  Four Andy Azula of award laden The Martin Agency is, personality wise, just the right dash of dashing and funny a decrepit Yahoo ad team needs as a leader. One of the industry’s best creative directors, Andy is “cute” to the girls and a “genius” for the boys in the advertising business. One big negative in the camp of Yahoo! these last dozen years has been positive, innovative, creative thinking. Yahoo right now, is not really noticeably different from the smiley face dude back in the dot com era. Well, in many ways that is. With the network and skills galore to do the Yahoo job, Azula may be the odds on choice if Yahoo intends to do anything distruptive at all. You can connect with him too, on an actually professional Twitter engagement, I might add. He’s creeping up on me as a social media guru on @andyazula

Is $110 million enough for Andy? I felt his smile grow great big at the suggestion. REVAMP YAHOO ANDY!!!

John CoyneNumber Five John Coyne, Worldwide Group Account Director/Associate Partner at Goodby Silverstein & Partners, is one of those ultra smart executives you may recall who has an uncanny ability to simplify even the most complex. A key member of this massively successful ad agency.

Coyne needs some work on his Twitter too @jctwitt, but the Vimeo case study below is interestingly one performed for Yahoo! by GSP. This Andy Award winning project showed a kind of out of the box thinking Yahoo could sorely use now.  I guess you could call Coyne a kind of “long shot” for the vacant Yahoo CMO position, but he’s certainly got gigantic plus attributes over the likes of De Castro types.

He’d probably like the pay raise too.

Yahoo! Bus Stop Derby Case Study from Niklas Lilja on Vimeo.



  1. Al DiGuido says

    Phil….What Yahoo has always needed was someone who has spent their career making sales calls on all sorts of customers both large and small. Your top 5 here is consumed with lots of agency operational folks. Yahoo needs SALES vision and leadership. A leader who still likes to make sales calls and listen to LOTS of clients and then develop innovative solutions that can not only fill their needs but also make the company money. Most of us that have been in this business…understand clearly what needs to be done at Yahoo. I continue to sit on the sidelines an dwatch major content providers make mistake after mistake in bringing in high priced talent ( $100 Million…are you kidding) that has really no clue as to what is needed. I have had a track record in building both legacy and digital sales and marketing organizations here on the East coast. Doubtful whether I will be getting that call from Marissa. Though…if she were smart…really smart…she would give a call…

    • Phil Butler says

      Hi Al, I vote for you to interview for this at the least. As for making sales, Yahoo (in my view) needs a CMO who can “hire” the right team for the job you state above. If I had to pick somebody to walk right in and do this, my first choice would be a man who would not take the job. Brian Solis of Altimeter Group has the needed vision, connects, and homework ethic to make Yahoo holler again. On top of that, he won’t piss off everyone on the team getting there.

      There are others, the ones I named were picked largely because the have either the practical wherewithal to assume the vacated role, and/or a massive network that could jump start the process. It seems pretty clear Melissa’s previous choice was for some unknown reason we shall never be privy to.

      Thanks for throwing your hat in the ring Al, I am sure the gal in charge is reading this.


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