Walmart Taps Target Executive as Chief Marketing Officer

He's the retailer's fourth head of marketing since 2015

Target's William White is joining Walmart on May 11. - Credit by Walmart
Headshot of Lisa Lacy

After an eight-month search, Walmart has named former Target senior vice president William White its chief marketing officer.

That’s according to an email to Walmart’s U.S. employees from Janey Whiteside, the big-box retailer’s executive vice president and chief customer officer, who noted that the incoming CMO spent seven years at Target focusing on strategies to drive sales, build brand equity and inspire customer loyalty.

“William is a customer-centric, innovative marketer and is a passionate leader who loves to build and nurture teams,” she wrote. “I am so excited to see him join the Walmart family and drive us forward.”

White will start in the role on May 11. He had been with Target since 2013. Per Whiteside, he also held leadership positions at The Coca-Cola Company.

He fills a seat that has been vacant for awhile. Walmart’s last CMO, Barbara Messing, departed in August after only about a year. A Walmart spokesperson said Rich Lehrfeld, senior vice president of brand, creative and media, was named interim CMO in January 2020. It was not immediately clear who, if anyone, headed up the marketing team in between. The spokesperson said reports it was former Target CMO Michael Francis, who was consulting at the time, are erroneous.

Whiteside thanked Lehrfeld for his leadership during the search. “He stepped up to the challenge to unite the team and make us all storytellers, and we are better for it,” she added.

White also steps into a position that has seen a fair amount of turnover in recent history. Messing succeeded Tony Rogers in 2018 after his departure to Sam’s Club.

Rogers, in turn, took the helm in 2016 after the retirement of Stephen Quinn, who was CMO for nearly a decade.

@lisalacy Lisa Lacy is a senior writer at Adweek, where she focuses on retail and the growing reach of Amazon.