It’s official: Penn is Microsoft’s new strategy person, Reller and Bates are out


Credit: Microsoft

It probably didn’t happen as secretly as Microsoft(s msft) would have liked, but the executive changes that leaked out over the weekend are now official, per CEO Satya Nadella.

Tony Bates, the former head of Skype who competed with Nadella for the Microsoft CEO slot, is leaving the company and will be replaced by long-time insider Eric Rudder. Tami Reller will hand the marketing reins over to Chris Capossella and will be taking some time off.

And Mark Penn, who had shared marketing with Reller, will be EVP and chief strategy officer or, as Re/code put it, “strategery officer.”

In the release Nadella wrote:

This change in marketing structure provides an opportunity for Mark Penn to play a new leadership role at the company as EVP, Chief Strategy Officer. Mark brings a blend of data analysis and creativity that has led to new ways of working and strong market outcomes such as the “Honestly” campaign and the Super Bowl ad, both of which were widely cited as examples of high impact advertising across the industry.



Wow, they made the political black propagandist an EVP now. I’m excited on the new smear campaign they are going to launch on Google.


Overall, these seem like strong personnel decisions by Nadella to set up ‘his team,’ though I can’t be the only person who found the ‘Honestly’ commercials woeful and exhausting. You have the competition displaying they’re devices as sleek, sexy, impactful, etc. while Microsoft sets up scenes like the guy getting bodied in the middle seat of an airplane that culminates with an irritating song – not exactly something I want to emulate. That ‘Honestly’ tune has been stuck in my head since November, so that could be considered a marketing win.

John Kneeland

I found the Windows Phone “don’t fight. switch” ads to be the best MS ads in recent memory. If he had anything to do with those, more power to him!

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