On the Street: Coca-Cola Shuffles Leadership

March 20/Atlanta/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution -- Coca-Cola Co. is shuffling its leadership ranks in North America, a region that has become a drag on the company's overall volume growth.

The beverage company said that Katie Bayne, chief marketing officer for Coca-Cola North America, will become president and general manager of "sparkling beverages" in North America. That division includes carbonated soft drinks such as Coke, Diet Coke, Coke Zero and Sprite.

She replaces Hendrik Steckhan, who will head to his native Germany to assume leadership of Coca-Cola's operations there.

Replacing Bayne in the chief marketing slot will be Beatriz Perez, a 14-year veteran of Coca-Cola who is currently senior vice president of integrated marketing in North America. Perez has been one of the company's go-betweens with NASCAR, PGA, the U.S. Olympic Committee, the NBA, American Idol and other entities. Most recently, she helped ink a deal extending Coca-Cola's sponsorships of several major NASCAR tracks. She will now be responsible for strategic marketing.

Bayne, who joined the company in 1989 and took over the marketing job in 2007, has overseen one of the biggest marketing budgets in North America. She helped lead Coca-Cola's presence at the Super Bowl and Vancouver Olympics. She said last month that splashy commercials on big events such as the Super Bowl are "just one piece" of the company's strategy, and that they must be supplemented by other forms of marketing, such as Facebook.

Bayne's new job will expand her responsibilities. She will be accountable for delivering results as a general manager and will have responsibility for a profit and loss statement.

Soft drink sales have fallen in recent years in North America because of health concerns and consumer preference for other products, such as juices. Coca-Cola wants to turn those trends around while also pushing its stable of non-soda drinks, and it plans to buy the North American part of bottler Coca-Cola Enterprises to untangle a complicated production system in North America.  

From the March 29, 2010, Prepared Foods E-dition