Facebook marketing chief Antonio Lucio is leaving

Brief:

  • Facebook chief marketing officer Antonio Lucio is leaving the social media giant on Sept. 18, with plans to devote his time to diversity and inclusion in the marketing and advertising, Bloomberg News reported, citing a blog post from the executive. Lucio joined Facebook in 2018 after working as CMO of computer maker HP, and as global CMO of payments company Visa before that.
  • “It is a time for reckoning for the nation and my industry and it is time for me to play a more active part in accelerating change,” Lucio said in the Facebook post. The executive oversaw marketing efforts including a rebranding effort that added Facebook’s name to photo-sharing app Instagram and the WhatsApp messaging app.
  • Lucio’s statement also expressed support for Facebook’s executive team, describing them as “a remarkable group of leaders, sometimes misunderstood by the external world, but deeply caring and committed to ensuring these platforms have a positive impact on the world.”

Insight:

Facebook is losing a marketing chief named by Forbes in 2019 as one of the most influential CMOs in the world and who has built a strong reputation for championing diversity in the marketing industry. The news comes as Facebook faces growing challenges with its image among consumers, advertisers and regulators. 

In July, Facebook was the target of an advertiser boycott. The “Stop Hate for Profit” campaign led by several civil rights groups asked marketers to stop advertising on Facebook to protest the platform’s policies on hate speech. More than half (58%) of Americans said the boycott was fair, while only 40% said the movement would lead to a “credible change” at the company, according to a survey by researcher Piplsay. Some advertisers have since returned to Facebook while others continue to spend elsewhere in an effort to keep the pressure up. 

Facebook is also under growing pressure from regulators concerned over its outsized influence. In the latest development on that front, founder Mark Zuckerberg was recently questioned by the Federal Trade Commission over possible violations of U.S. antitrust law, the Wall Street Journal reported.  

While Facebook’s ad revenue growth has been dampened because of the coronavirus pandemic’s disruptive effect on the economy and on marketing efforts, the company has remained resilient among a broad base of advertisers. Revenue rose 11% to $18.7 billion in Q2 from a year earlier, slower than the 17% increase in the prior quarter, but the company’s daily active users (DAUs) expanded by 15% to 2.47 billion as more people used social during lockdowns.

While at Facebook, Lucio required ad agencies that worked with the company to have teams that included more women, people of color and people with diverse sexual orientations, the Wall Street Journal reported last year. He said Facebook had continued efforts to improve diversity. That insistence on diversity followed a similar effort at HP, where he required ad agencies to hire more women and minorities.

Lucio also oversaw high-profile promotional efforts that included Facebook’s first Super Bowl commercial in February. The ad for Facebook Groups, a feature to communicate about shared interests with certain people through the social network, included comedian Chris Rock and actor Sylvester Stallone.

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