Coke replaces chief marketing officer as soda sales remain flat

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NEW YORK — Coca-Cola is replacing its chief marketing officer as the world's biggest beverage maker fights to boost flat soda sales.

The Atlanta-based company says Marcos De Quinto, a company veteran, will replace Joe Tripodi starting Jan. 1.

The change for the maker of Sprite, Powerade and Vitaminwater comes after the company this week reported a lower quarterly profit on disappointing sales. In its flagship U.S. market, people have been moving away from soda and other sugary drinks over worries that they lead to weight gain. Coke is also facing more competition from smaller players.

To boost its performance, Coke said this week it plans to slash costs by $3 billion a year, with much of the savings being reinvested into marketing. That is seen as a critical way to drive up weak sales because marketing plays a key role in selling soda and other drinks, where the differences in products can be minimal. In announcing plans to boost its marketing budget, Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent has noted that "our business responds to marketing."

In addition to pouring more money into marketing, Kent during a conference call on Tuesday that Coca-Cola will "continue to work to improve the quality of our marketing" for soda and ensure that it's more "effective."

De Quinto, 56, currently heads Coca-Cola's Spanish/Portuguese division and is a vice president of the Europe group. He has also served in marketing roles in countries including Spain and Germany.

Tripodi, 59, who has headed Coca-Cola's marketing for the past seven years, oversaw the launch of Coke's "Open Happiness" campaign. He has previously served as chief marketing officer at Allstate Insurance and MasterCard. He will retire at the end of February.

There have been other recent management changes for Coca-Cola Co. Last year, the company said the head of its Americas division, Steve Cahillane, was leaving the company. Longtime Chief Financial Officer Gary Fayard also retired last year.

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