AOL lands J&J marketing vet
Johnson & Johnson's Kim Kadlec, who's been with the drugmaker eight years and most recently served as worldwide VP of its global marketing group, is joining AOL as head of relationship management, the web firm said today.
Kadlec, who begins in the newly created role at the end of April, will focus on building strategic distribution partnerships with digital, media and technology companies to grow the audience for AOL's content, brands and platforms globally. She will report both to Tim Armstrong, AOL chairman and CEO, and Susan Lyne, CEO of AOL's Brand Group.
AOL is the fifth-largest web property behind Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft and Facebook by audience, according to comScore, and maintains numerous verticals. As such, some of Kadlec's media plans, both on the agency and the corporate side, have included the web company.
“I have had the chance to get to know Tim, Susan and the AOL management team and have seen AOL's strategy at work around video, mobile, content syndication and programmatic," said Kadlec. "There is a big opportunity to engineer collaborative distribution relationships that will help this company keep growing. I am excited to be a part of AOL's continued transformation."
In confirming the departure, J&J VP media relations Ernie Knewitz wrote, “We have begun the process to fill this important role in our media organization, and thank Kim for her contributions to [J&J] and wish her well in her new role.”
The move could spur a further diversification of AOL's health content, although an AOL representative told MM&M that Kadlec's role will not focus on any particular content vertical or business. Rather, she will “look to develop large-scale partnerships” to help exploit AOL's content, video and advertising technologies.
AOL already employs a multi-pronged health strategy. For several years, AOL users seeking health content have been driven to online publisher Everyday Health. The two inked a five-year deal in 2011 that made Everyday Health the “health destination” for the AOL network, replacing AOL Health. Its other content partners include Lifescript, a women's health site.
AOL also owns The Huffington Post, which maintains a robust Healthy Living section, but its audience numbers have fallen of late. The most recent tally—5.5 million unique visitors in February 2014—was down 23% from the previous year, according to comScore.
Asked whether Kadlec's hiring is in any way designed to foster more participation by pharma advertisers—who are just beginning to experiment in media like in-app video and gaming—in digital channels, the AOL rep said, “No, but like many of our top executives, Kim brings a plethora of industry experience that we will look to capitalize on in a variety of ways when and where appropriate.”
AOL praised her record of global brand-building and her leadership in the marketing world “with respect to helping brands navigate the transition from traditional media into online media—both as an agency executive and while holding corporate roles.
“This is true of her time at J&J,” AOL continued, “where she also played a leading role in helping the global brand embrace new technologies and a focus on content as a way to help its brands tell their stories and drive engagement with their key audiences. Part of this includes working with AOL, where she was able to see firsthand the impact our company's strategy is having on the industry.”