Target names Rick Gomez CMO

Target's previous CMO, Jeff Jones, left the retailer in September to join Uber as president, ridesharing.

Target has upped Rick Gomez to EVP and CMO, effective Jan. 29.

Gomez, currently SVP, marketing, at Target, will report to Target chairman and CEO Brian Cornell, and serve as a member of the organization’s leadership team in his new role.

Gomez is tasked with furthering Target’s brand positioning and leading the integration of all marketing programs. He will oversee marketing and media strategy, creative, marketing communications, guest research, loyalty, corporate communications and CSR efforts.

Target undertook an extensive internal and external search for its new CMO, Cornell said in a statement last August. Jeff Jones, the retailer’s previous CMO, left in September to join Uber as president, ridesharing.

Gomez, who joined Target in 2013, has been "instrumental in driving growth" in the retailer’s signature categories of baby, kids, style, and wellness, according to a release. He championed the company’s renewed emphasis on deeper, more personal guest research, and the establishment of Target’s Guest Center of Excellence. Gomez also drove Target’s live commercials during the 2015 and 2016 Grammy Awards telecasts and the marketing communications for Target’s Lilly Pulitzer partnership, the statement added.

Prior to joining the retailer, Gomez held marketing VP roles at Quaker Oats and MillerCoors, and he was Hydration CMO at PepsiCo, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Gomez’s predecessor, Jones, had been with Target since 2012, when he joined as EVP and CMO. While at the retailer, Jones took crises into his own hands. About a year after he joined the brand, then-president and CEO Gregg Steinhafel resigned. Cornell later replaced him in the lead role.

In May 2014, when an anonymous mid-level employee at Target's headquarters in Minneapolis sent a letter to Gawker complaining about the company’s culture, Jones publicly posted an open, honest message on LinkedIn in response. Its bottom line: "The truth hurts, but it can also set you free," in reference to the mega-hack that left tens of millions of the company’s customers exposed and Target’s reputation on the line around that time. His bold message received a positive reaction from the public.

The series of crises also flipped Target’s internal comms strategy on its head. Inspired by The Skimm, the retailer began reaching out more proactively to its employees with a daily newsletter called Briefly in March 2015.

Last August, Target brought in analytics provider Quantified Communications to analyze the response to Briefly. It scored 99 percent for clarity, 89 percent for authenticity, 89 percent for engagement, 47 percent for confidence and 79 percent for trust.

Target also launched Spot On in March with an emphasis on employee advocacy. Additionally, the retailer holds events called RED Talks—the company’s version of TED Talks—to discuss what leaders at Target are working on, and Outer Spaces, which invites renowned external speakers to talk to staffers. Up next: a foray into podcasts and video.

At the start of September, Target also launched an Instagram page dedicated to employees and leveraged #WeAreTarget on all of its social media channels.

This story first appeared in PR Week.

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