Former Sears Exec to Lead Yahoo! Marketing

Internet content giant Yahoo has tapped John Costello, who boasts experience in the Internet space as well as at traditional firms like Procter & Gamble and Sears, to be the chief steward of its brand.

The appointment of Costello as chief global marketing officer comes at a critical time for Yahoo, as it seeks to step out of the mold of an online media company, and expand its brand to encompass paid subscription services.

Costello will head up Yahoo’s worldwide branding effort and help the company market its products. For North American initiatives, he’ll be working with Greg Coleman, executive vice president of North American operations, and Costello’s global responsibilities will fall under the supervision of Jeff Mallett, the company’s president and chief operating officer.

The company that Costello is joining is under substantially new leadership than the Yahoo of just a year ago, the most notable change being the appointment of Terry Semel as chief executive officer. Additionally, the sales and marketing areas have experienced some big shifts. Costello replaces vice president of worldwide marketing Karen Edwards, one of Yahoo’s earliest employees, who left in August. Chief sales and marketing officer Anil Singh, another early employee, left in March and was just recently replaced by former DoubleClick and Ziff Davis Media executive Wenda Harris Millard, who heads up North American ad sales.

Costello most recently served as president and CEO of MVP.com, the failed high-profile Internet sporting goods start-up whose advisory board included Michael Jordan, John Elway and Wayne Gretsky. Prior to that, Costello was president of automotive retailing and rental car firm AutoNation.

But what Yahoo is touting is Costello’s consumer marketing experience as senior executive vice president of Sears, Roebuck & Co., where he was employed from 1993 to 1998. In that role, he worked on the “softer side of Sears” effort to re-make the Sears brand. Costello also held senior-level brand management and marketing positions at Procter & Gamble and Pepsi-Cola, and was chief operating officer of Nielsen Marketing Research, USA.

“John is an exceptional marketing executive with the depth and breadth of experience necessary to lead Yahoo’s global marketing team,” said Coleman in a statement. “Yahoo’s brand strength continues to be a significant asset for the company, and as we continue to build compelling offerings for consumers, John is the ideal leader to take Yahoo’s marketing initiatives to the next level.”

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