LONDON — Educational publisher Pearson has created a global marketing unit, as the company attempts to build a more trusted brand amid some significant reputation challenges.
The move is the latest step in chief corporate officer Kate James' plan to improve global brand cohesion, after overhauling Pearson's communications function last year.
Former Amazon and Microsoft marketer Karen Starns takes on the top marketing job as SVP of global marketing, reporting to James. Starns joined Pearson one year ago as SVP of brand, digital, insights and social impact.
In addition, VP Geoff Seeley oversees digital and customer marketing, after arriving at the company last year from Unilever, where he was global communications planning director.
James told the Holmes Report that the new global marketing team was not an attempt to build a "central bureaucracy," but would focus on maximising existing resources around the world, via centres of excellence.
"It's a small team, very focused on two or three areas where it makes sense to think globally — brand, digital, market intelligence," said James. "Are we being smart about where we are putting our marketing investment across the globe? Are we also bringing in and developing our talent in what is a dynamic environment?"
She added that Starns is undertaking a global marketing review that assesses Pearson's requirements in terms of global brand consistency; the company's "digital blueprint" and customer experience; and, its "marketing capabilities globally in terms of talent and having a clear strategy that aligns with our business priorities."
The unit will not affect Pearson's existing product and geographic marketing functions, but does integrate with the company's communications under James. This, she said, was particularly important given the reputation challenges that Pearson is facing. In addition to its ongoing restructuring, which incuded the sale of the Financial Times and its stake in the Economist last year, the company has faced criticism in the US because of its impact on education in the country.
"Our US reputation challenge is significant," said James. "At the heart of it is a real concern about private sector involvement in education. It's really important that we have a strong brand and our customers trust us."
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