SPECSAVERS Global Chief Marketing Officer, Katherine Whitton is to leave the company in April.
After three successful years steering the brand across the ten markets the business operates in, Whitton said that she is leaving with a very heavy heart but that the time was right for her and her partner to return to the UK from Guernsey, where the role is based.
Whitton has made significant strides during her time at the helm of Specsaver’s marketing machine, culminating in her recognition in both Campaign’s Power 100 and Marketing Week’s 100 Most Effective Marketers this year.
Her achievements include the restructure of the 90-strong in-house agency, attracting leading industry talent, and the development and implementation of a new brand strategy, including a refreshed visual identity, logo and global store format. She has championed the focus on improving the effectiveness of the commercial marketing agenda with the introduction of predictive capability in CRM and digital marketing, and delivered efficiencies through identifying content, martech and skills programmes that have been used across all markets.
She is credited with successfully navigating the brand through the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, reinventing how the business engages and communicates with customers to continue to receive essential sight and hearing care and advice throughout the pandemic.
Her strategy to put authentic storytelling at the heart of customer communications has brought to life the invaluable care and expertise that store colleagues deliver. The role of social media and consumer PR has been elevated under her leadership and Whitton was instrumental in the introduction of remote advice and triage services for customers, including the ‘Specsavers – Ask the Expert’ Facebook community page – a global industry first and cited by the social media owner as a ‘key and innovative service for its members’.
Whitton recently inspired the integrated campaign that celebrates the positivity a smile can bring and the role Specsavers can play in making this happen, even in these challenging times. ‘Something To Smile About’ was created by the Specsavers in-house creative agency, under the leadership of Nicola Wardell, who Whitton brought in to the business earlier in the year from Havas.
Specsavers Chief Executive, John Perkins, says: ‘Katherine has been a truly valued member of our board, supporting the growth of our business and strengthening our brand and marketing capabilities.
‘In particular, her help in shaping our response to the pandemic has been invaluable. Her customer-centric approach has helped us reposition the brand and expertise we deliver in sight and hearing care every day.
‘We will miss Katherine and wish her the very best of luck with whatever the future holds for her.’
Whitton says: ‘I have absolutely loved my time at Specsavers. It’s been a real privilege to be trusted to guide the development of this iconic brand and the marketing agenda. I’ve had the pleasure of working with so many committed, compassionate and talented people in our stores and support offices around the world.
‘The brand is in excellent shape and I leave it in the hands of the hugely talented marketing and creative community I’ll say goodbye to when I go. I’m looking forward to cheering them on from the side lines as they continue towards even greater success in the years to come.’
Whitton is currently exploring her next career move and Specsavers has begun the process of recruiting her successor.