- Facebook promoted Alex Schultz, vice president of product growth and analytics, to chief marketing officer, the executive announced in a personal post on the social network Tuesday.
- Schultz replaces Antonio Lucio, who stepped down on Sept. 18 after two years in the CMO spot. Announcing his departure in August, Lucio said he was leaving to devote more time to promoting diversity and inclusion in marketing.
- In his post, Schultz affirmed he would work to further Lucio's efforts to tell culturally relevant stories, while layering in his own expertise in areas like segmentation, targeting and measurement. His appointment suggests Facebook will look to better blend purpose-led brand building with its historical focus on technological innovation.
Schultz takes on Facebook's top marketing role as trust in the social media giant remains low, with scrutiny rising among users, advertisers and regulators alike.
Lucio, who joined Facebook in 2018, was seen as a savvy hire, as the former HP and Visa executive was known for his work in areas like diversity and inclusion and purpose-led marketing. But the problems Lucio was brought on to address — including ongoing fallout from the Cambridge Analytica scandal — linger two years on.
Facebook is currently navigating a minefield of an election year, an area where it has continued to face a lashing over not doing enough to stop the spread of misinformation and division. Similarly, the company this summer was beset with an advertiser boycott, with dozens of brands both large and small pausing their spending in protest of the platform's failure to address the spread of hate speech. And earlier this month, The Wall Street Journal reported the Federal Trade Commission was preparing a potential antitrust suit against the company.
Facebook elevating an insider to CMO will do little to quell concerns that the organization and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg — despite being under a harsh spotlight for years now, with mounting employee unrest — have grown increasingly insular and resistant to outside criticism. With his background in direct response marketing and analytics, Schultz could be positioned as a more modern CMO equipped to handle the demands of both burnishing Facebook brand's image and ensuring the company can keep pace with fast-moving technology trends and regulatory hurdles.
"I have grown up in online marketing and believe deeply in the economic empowerment it can bring, its ability to show people more tailored, relevant, less annoying ads, and the fact it allows us to serve everyone by offering our products for free," Schultz wrote in his post.
"I believe deeply in the good Facebook's products do," he added, calling out the platform's role as a connector to people physically separated during the coronavirus pandemic. "At the same time I think scrutiny of any new technology is appropriate and there are ways we can, and should, improve without losing all the good."
Outside of myriad image problems, Facebook is contending with several competitive threats, including from newcomer apps like TikTok — even as it faces a ban in the U.S. The social networking giant is additionally in the midst of a major overhaul of its technological infrastructure, looking to unify properties like Instagram, Messenger and its namesake service on the back end. This week, the company announced that Messenger and Instagram users will be able to chat across the two platforms, even if they haven't downloaded one of the apps.
Schultz's appointment at the same time extends the focus on diversity and inclusion that Lucio brought to the table. Schultz, who is gay, is the executive sponsor of Facebook's [email protected] resource group for the LGBT community.