Today in End of An Era news, Bob DeFillippo, chief communications officer with Prudential Financial, is retiring after more than 21 years with the company.
The company’s press release has a lot to say about the career of DeFillippo, a true industry veteran who teaches at NYU and currently serves on the boards of both the PRSA and the Arthur W. Page Society (where he’s a treasurer and a member of the Executive Committee). In short, he is one of the few remaining members of the Old School.
From Vice Chairman Mark Grier:
“Bob has led the company’s internal and external communications during some of the most significant events in the company’s history, including its demutualization, the financial crisis and the company’s expansion into key international markets.”
The most interesting part about the announcement, though, is that Prudential will not (technically) replace DeFillippo.
As noted, again, in the press release, the company will not have a chief comms officer moving forward. Instead, its team is promoting former head of advertising Colin McConnell to the newly created role of “chief brand officer.” The position is essentially a mashup of the two executives’ jobs: McConnell will handle not just PR but also marketing, advertising, internal communications, and corporate events. Grier says:
“He will collaborate across business units and corporate functions to create a consistent and impactful brand presence, and he will partner closely with Naveen Agarwal, our new chief customer officer, to ensure consistency of brand and customer experience.”
Got that? The change has led some to wonder whether the top corporate comms roles of the future will resemble those of the present and recent past. Dave Armon, friend of the site and CEO of Brand.com, captured that sentiment in a tweet yesterday:
— Dave Armon (@daveyarmon) December 19, 2014
What do we think, readers? Is DeFillippo’s retirement a true passing of the guard? Is the corporate CCO as we know it an endangered species?