Tag Archives: Yell

Can you “hibu”?

Yell/YellowBook has recently announced it will rebrand as “hibu”, (pending the approval of its shareholders in July) in an effort to be more identified as a service provider to SMBs that goes beyond just traditional print Yellow Pages.  A study using 165 cases of company rebranding  found that no matter whether a rebranding comes from a change in corporate strategy (e.g., M&A) or constitutes an actual marketing strategy (change the corporate reputation), the effort aims at enhancing, regaining, transferring, and/or repositioning the corporate brand equity.

Such a radical name change like this certainly raises the issue of whether Yellow Page publishers need new brands to attract (and retain) new users. Company rebranding is a tricky game – remember the “new” Coke?  Some other recent examples include the company we all love to hate; cable-television and Internet conglomerate Comcast, a name synonymous with poor customer service and overcharging which in February 2010, began marketing its Internet video services under the new name, Xfinity, leaving customers to wonder what exactly the name meant. As a writer for Time magazine quipped, “Will the name change work? Probably not, but at least it’ll sound a bit edgier when you’re put on hold … with Xfinity.”

Another example would be The Gap.  In October 2010, the clothing retailer Gap abandoned it’s long standing logo consisting of a blue box with “GAP” written in white inside, for a slightly altered new version described by Marka Hansen, Gap’s president for North America, as a “…journey to make Gap more relevant to our customers.” Apparently, the customers didn’t share his view, and following a tide wave of online criticism/outrage, the company did an about-face within a week.Unique company or product names, by themselves, may not have any actual meaing to begin with. But if backed by a strong, successful branding campaign, they can come to signify whatever the companies want them to mean.  Case in point — AFLAC, a large international insurer but hardly a household name until the last few years, is now well recognized using a duck as a key spokesperson and promoter.

The success of any rebranding is more tied to the level of advertising needed to create an image around the name.  “I don’t think the name of a company is hugely important in the long run,” suggests professor David Schmittlein. He adds that even fabricated names are “real names” in the sense that “they are pronounceable words. I think of them as largely empty vessels – reliable and durable empty vessels that can be filled up with positive associations.”

The Yellow Page industry is no different.  This name change for Yell follows several recent publisher branding changes, made in order to separate the company from the “baggage” of the print Yellow Pages label as they pursue new digital products. Hence, we’ve seen names like Idearc, ZipLocal, LocalEdge, Sensis, Truvo, and Eniro.

A primary case study could be made the creation of Verizon Communications, which was formed in June, 2000, following the merger of Bell Atlantic Corp. and GTE Corp. The genesis of the unique company name came from the Latin word “veritas” meaning truth, combined with the word “horizon”, all to project something more forward-looking and visionary. The Verizon symbol was also selected because it uses the two letters of the Verizon logo that graphically portrayed speed.  (Source)

In making this change, Verizon, beyond having a huge advertising budget to promote the change, had several other branding advantages working in its favor:

  • A huge fleet of telephone company vehicles driving around the market each and every day (aka – rolling billboards)
  • As a public utility, numerous daily articles and stories in which the public was reminded of the name change  (as in free publicity)
  • A growing cellular presence which helped push the name even more quickly, even in areas where they were not the incumbent telephone provider.

Yell/Hibu is certainly handicapped in the transition without these supporting efforts.  The question for Yell/Hibu is whether its shift in branding, which accentuates its move to new digital products, can be accomplished in time.  Yell has been undergoing a radical transformation since its leadership changed in 2011 with the retirement of John Condron. Current CEO Mike Pocock is trying to shift the business from just a directory publisher to a provider of a complete range of local advertising and e-marketing services.

With a nagging debt load which contributed to a GBP 1.4 billion loss for the year and prompted the company to retain Goldman Sachs and Greenhill to help it build a new capital structure, can the company amass a big enough budget to truly promote and implement the name change?

Ironic isn’t it though that the funding for this name change for Yell Group is actually coming from the very core print products they seemed to be in such a hurray to distance themselves from (print is 71.3% of Yell revenue,  78.1% for YellowBook – per the newly renamed Goddard Report).

Certainly, the future isn’t what it use to be….

People – March

We are a little behind in our updates of  people in the Yellow Pages industry.  This regular blog sponsored by Hawthorne Executive Search  is all about people in the Yellow Pages industry. If you have news you want to share about someone that is involved in the Yellow Pages industry (including retirees) that we should all know about, drop us a line and tell us how they are doing. Send your submissions to ken@yptalk.com.

Neal Polachek:

BIA/Kelsey has announced that Neal Polachek, president of for the past three years, has left the company. Rick Ducey has been is promoted to managing director supervising research, Continuous Advisory Services (CAS) programs and consulting services.  Matt Booth was named chief strategy officer. Matt will continue to run the Interactive Local Media (ILM) advisory service and provide leadership for consulting practices and conferences. Bobbi Loy-Luster has been given an expanded role as vp of client services, including overseeing CAS programs and the company’s new competitive benchmarking. Peter Krasilovsky, vice president and program director, will now serve an expanded role as conference chairman.

Peter Broadbent:

Peter Broadbent has been named vice president, investor relations & marketing, at Photronics Inc., a leader in supplying photomask-based imaging solutions for global electronics and display industries.  Broadbent had spent 25 years at Wahlstrom Group, where he was CEO. He served on the Local Search Association Board of Directors, as well as the National Marketing Division Advisory Council.

Matt Anderson:

Yellow Pages publisher Yell has appointed Matt Anderson to the new role of chief strategy and business development officer.  His task will be to spearhead the group’s strategy of providing digital services to small and medium-sized businesses, as its sales of paper directories decline.

Anderson had worked with Yell on this strategy, which was unveiled last July, while he was a senior adviser at US consultancy Booz & Company.

Yell chief executive Mike Pocock said Anderson had ‘played an instrumental role’ in developing the new strategy.

Linda Kennedy:

Yell also announced the appointment of Linda Kennedy to the new role of Group Human Resources Director. Kennedy will lead organizational change and support the integration of Yell’s global business in the UK, US, Spain and some countries in Latin America.

Kennedy joins Yell from UK mobile operator Everything Everywhere, the joint venture between Orange and T Mobile; she held the role of chief change officer, reporting to the CEO and delivered the integration of the two businesses.

Previously, she was group HRD at international service company Serco, where among her responsibilities were the development of a people strategy and the implementation of a leadership and talent management framework.

Based at Yell’s corporate headquarters in Reading, UK, Kennedy will report to Mike Pocock, Yell’s CEO. She will be responsible for building a group-wide HR capability to support the executive group and deliver organizational change.

Bruce Akhurst, Rick Ellis:

Bruce Akhurst who headed Telstra’s Yellow Pages directory business, Sensis will leave the company in May.  Telstra Chief Executive David Thodey said in a statement that, despite a challenging print environment, Sensis had managed to maintain strong print revenues compared with its global peers and had started its transition into a fully digital capable media business.

The company said Rick Ellis, group managing director of Telstra Digital Media, would be acting chief executive of Sensis while a replacement for Akhurst was sought.

“I have enjoyed my time as CEO of Sensis. It is time now for a change and I look forward to exploring new opportunities,” he said in a statement

Sebastien Provencher:

Sebastien Provencher, one of the most prolific bloggers in the industry, has announced he is leaving Needium, the company he co-founded. Provencher recently disclosed his future plans: “…As a next step in my career, I’m looking for international experience. I’d like to work in Europe or in the United States as a senior exec in a media/Internet company (large or small). I bring with me solid experience in product management, business development, Internet strategy, social media and management.”  You can reach him at sprovencher@gmail.com.

He would be a great addition to your team…

People – November

It has been a very, very active period for announcements about people in the Yellow Pages industry.  This regular blog sponsored Hawthorne Executive Search  is all about people in the Yellow Pages industry. If you have news you want to share about someone that is involved in the Yellow Pages industry (including retirees) that we should all know about, drop us a line and tell us how they are doing. Send your submissions to ken@yptalk.com.

Joe Walsh:

Yell Group announced that Joe Walsh, President and Chief Executive Officer of Yellowbook, US, has agreed to step down to “pursue other interests”.  His interim successor is Bob Gregerson, the Group’s Chief Consumer Officer.  Gregerson has a substantial track record in managing and growing worldwide divisions for leading companies, with considerable experience in the launch, growth and transformation of direct sales and ecommerce initiatives. Gregerson will now “…extend his strong understanding and commitment to innovation to the direct benefit of Yell’s SME customers throughout the US….”

Mike Pocock, the company’s Group Chief Executive Officer, commented:  “I wish
to thank Joe for his significant contribution to Yell over the past 24 years.  He has played a key role in the transformation of the Group. Under his leadership, Yellowbook has grown from a small independent publisher in Long Island, New York, to a national leader in local search. Joe and I agree that the time is appropriate to make this transition, as the Group’s business model and marketplaces change. We are now starting to deliver our new strategic
initiatives, built on a successful foundation that Joe helped create. Our
succession process will be thorough and orderly, supported by the strong team
that Joe has built.”

For a recent article about Joe Walsh, click here.

Jenny Ashmore:

Yell also announced the appointment of Jenny Ashmore to the new role of group chief marketing officer.  Ashmore will take responsibility for Yell’s global marketing strategy and oversee its execution throughout the Group’s operations in the UK, US, Spain and Latin America.

Jenny’s appointment supports Yell’s strategy to transform from its established position in providing print and online advertising for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to become a leader in the emerging local eMarketplace.

John Fischer:

The Berry Company has picked John S. Fischer the company’s General Counsel and Secretary, as the Company’s Interim President and CEO upon the company’s
emergence from Chapter 11. At emergence, Mr. Fischer will replace current
Interim President and CEO Scott Brubaker, who is a Managing Director with
Alvarez & Marsal. Mr. Fischer will also serve as a member of the reorganized company’s Board of Directors.

“John’s tenure with Berry, his relationships inside and outside of the company, and his understanding of the evolving dynamics of the local search industry make him ideal for this role,” said Mr. Brubaker. “This appointment will provide the company with strong continuity of leadership at emergence, which we expect by the end of November.”

Fischer has served as Local Insight Media’s General Counsel and Secretary since June 2006. In addition to providing legal counsel for all the company’s transactions and major business dealings, he has provided business advice and decision-making as part of the company’s Executive Leadership team. Prior to joining the company, Fischer was Deputy General Counsel at Dex Media, where he focused on securities, commercial and transactional matters, including Dex Media’s $9.5 billion merger with R.H. Donnelley Corporation. His experience also includes serving as Managing Partner, Telecoms, of Logica Consulting, a European management consultancy. He is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Stanford University and holds JD and MBA degrees from the University of California at Los Angeles.

Richard Halle:

The Berry Company also announced the appointment of Richard G.Halle as the company’s new Chief Financial Officer. Mr. Halle has more than 20 years of diverse financial management experience in the financial services sector and with other industries. Mr. Halle replaces Richard Jenkins, also from Alvarez & Marsal, who served as the company’s Interim Chief Financial Officer for the past two years.

“Richard Halle is a highly talented and experienced leader, with a unique combination of financial and business experience,” said Mr. Brubaker. “He has an impressive track record working in all aspects of finance – including planning, forecasting, budgeting, accounting and reporting – and will play a pivotal role on our senior executive team as we emerge from bankruptcy protection.”

Halle is the former Chief Financial Officer and Secretary of the Board of DTN Holding Company in Omaha, Nebraska, a business he joined as it was going through bankruptcy. After that company’s emergence, he spearheaded a successful transformation targeted at increasing revenue and operating profits, and played a key leadership role in enhancing product lines, strengthening value positions, and developing internal mechanisms to respond quickly to market demands and trends.  Prior to joining DTN, Halle was a Managing Director at FTI Consulting, Inc. in Denver, Colorado, where he specialized in analyzing company liquidity, evaluating competition and industry trends, and developing restructuring and sale strategies and proposals. He holds BA and MBA degrees from the University of New Hampshire.

Mark Lane:

The Berry Company announced that Mark J. Lane has been appointed Interim Senior Vice President, Client Services, replacing Kevin Payne, who recently left the business to pursue other opportunities. Mr. Lane has 25 years of sales experience with Berry supporting its independent line of business.
Prior to this position, he served in a variety of leadership and management
positions within the company, including Regional Vice President, General
Manager, Senior Director of Telco Relations and Regional Director. Mr. Lane
holds a degree in Business Administration from Miami University of Ohio.

Kevin Payne:

LocalEdge named Kevin Payne chief operating officer and he will be based at LocalEdge headquarters in Buffalo, NY. Previously, Payne was senior vice president for Local Insight Media, Berry Network and Cincinnati Bell.

LocalEdge CEO Jeff Folckemer said, “Kevin is a pioneer in the digital space and is looking forward to help lead our organization to the next level of digital transformation.”

Rorie Devine:

Devine has left the post of UK chief technology officer at Yell to take on the role of group chief information officer at United Business Media (UBM).  UBM is a
business information services firm which serves the technology, media,
financial services, media, healthcare and automotive industries. The company
owns press release distribution engine PR Newswire, as well as a range of
titles including Information Week and Music Week.

According to Devine, the main attractions of the job are around the way in which his new employer is utilising digital technologies to operate, as well as IT
complexities related to a string of business acquisitions made over recent years.

Scott Moore:

Yell announced the appointment of Scott Moore to the new role of Chief Digital Officer (CDO). Scott will lead the creation and development of Yell’s new generation of products and services that will enable small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) customers and their consumers to capitalize on the digital opportunity.

Moore joins Yell from MSN where, as Partner and Executive Producer, he was responsible for transforming Microsoft’s online consumer service, turning it into a valuable property which now attracts more than 125 million American consumers every month and drives adoption of Bing, Microsoft’s search service. Previously, Scott was Senior Vice President and Head of Media at Yahoo!, where he led Yahoo! to market leadership in News, Sports, Finance, Entertainment and Lifestyle. Earlier he held senior management roles at Microsoft businesses including MSNBC.com and Expedia Travel. He was also Publisher of Slate, Microsoft’s online magazine. Moore will report to Mike Pocock, Group Chief Executive Officer, and will be based at a new Yell office to be opened in Seattle, WA. The Seattle office will act as a central hub to co-ordinate Yell’s worldwide digital development activities.

Mike Pocock said: “Scott is a highly regarded senior executive with vast experience in building and turning around digital and online properties. At Yell, he will develop and execute the new products and services that will enable our more than 1.3 million SME customers and their consumers to take full advantage of the digital opportunity. Scott’s proven commercial track record and intimate knowledge in this space will bring a new clarity and energy to our rapidly expanding digital portfolio.”

Gretchen Zech:

Arrow Electronics, Inc. announced that Gretchen Zech has been named senior
vice president of global human resources for the company.  Zech will be
responsible for Arrow Electronics’ global human resources (HR) strategy and
operations, and serve as a member of the company’s executive committee. She
will oversee talent and performance management, professional development, and compensation and benefits initiatives for the company.

“Gretchen’s wealth of HR knowledge and leadership experience spanning over 20 years make her the ideal person for this important role,” said Michael J. Long, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Arrow Electronics. “Our people are our momentum, and Gretchen will lead the continued evolution of our global HR and talent programs.”

Zech joins Arrow Electronics from Dex One where she was senior vice president and chief HR officer since 2006.

George Burnett:

George Burnett, chief executive of Alta Colleges Inc., the parent company of Westwood College and Redstone College, will resign at the end of the month, but he will remain on the board of the privately held company, a spokesman said.

Burnett has led Alta and Westwood for the past five years, serving at a time when for-profit schools came under fire for high student default rates and aggressive sales tactics. Westwood’s alleged problems preceded Burnett, but they came to the fore in lawsuits and even a U.S. Senate hearing during his tenure. Burnett didn’t give a reason for his decision to leave his post.

Dean Gouin will replace Burnett as CEO, effective Oct. 1. Gouin is a 15-year veteran at the company, having filled positions in human resources, financial aid, career development services, and student services before becoming chief operating officer of Westwood College.

Burnett was in charge of the phone directory business at telecommunications company, Qwest, now CenturyLink, under then-CEO Joe Nacchio. Qwest was the target of a fraud lawsuit by the Securities and Exchange Commission and an investigation by the Justice Department. Nacchio is serving a six-year prison sentence. Burnett was never targeted by these actions.

When Qwest sold its phone directory, and Burnett went on to become chief executive of Dex Media for a brief period where he led a leveraged buyout, an initial public offering and then a merger with rival R.H. Donnelley, which later went bankrupt.

People – December

This regular monthly blog sponsored Hawthorne Executive Search is all about people in the Yellow Pages industry. If you have news you want to share about someone that is involved in the Yellow Pages industry (including retirees) that we should all know about, drop us a line and tell us how they are doing. Send your submissions to ken@yptalk.com.

David Gilbert:

Ziplocal’s VP-Sales, Eastern Division – Dave Gilbert will be leaving the company effective December 3rd to return to college for another degree (he is considering teaching at university level) and to work with various charitable organizations.

Dave has had a long and successful career in the Yellow Pages industry have started in 1984 with BellSouth Advertising & Publishing.  He left in 1993 to start his own company, the Neighborhood Yellow Pages, which was later to sold to Volt (DataNational) in 1998.  Following the sale, he served as Chief Operating Officer for DataNational until 2008 when the company was acquired by Yellow Pages Group (YPG).  Following the sale, he served as the company’s VP of US Sales. When YPG sold the company to Ziplocal in April, 2010, Dave was appointed the VP-Sales, Eastern Division.

We wish Dave the best in his future endeavors.  Whatever he chooses to work on, there is no doubt he will be successful at it.

Charles Ruppman:

Charles Ruppman recently died at the age of 95 in Tualatin, Ore., where he lived for the past four years.  Ruppman parlayed his experience with the Yellow Pages directory into a thriving company while setting up one of the first call centers in the country.  After working for R. H. Donnelly, Ruppman moved to Peoria in 1962.

“He originally worked with Thompson Advertising and developed the Yellow Pages division here. Later, Bob Thompson died and he set up Ruppman Advertising,” said son Charles T. Ruppman.  “He went on to grow the business and be very successful. He developed three separate companies. There was Ruppman Advertising, Ruppman Yellow Pages and Today’s Merchandising,” he said.  Ruppman later went to New York to negotiate with Time-Life for the purchase of a telephone call center in Peoria, one of the first in the country.

The business kept growing after Ruppman retired in the 1970s as his son developed Ruppman Marketing Services, which expanded the call-center functions out to three buildings in Peoria. In the 1980s, Ruppman’s firm fielded most of the 800-number calls that customers made across the country from the Peoria offices.  The Ruppman company was sold in 2004 and renamed Affina.

“Without him and his drive and foresight, none of it would have happened. Our products and services were known all over the United States,” said Charles T. Ruppman of the Ruppman companies, which at their peak employed about 2,400 people nationwide – more than 600 in Peoria.  “He was a big part of the Peoria community,” his son said, adding that he “engaged in a number of community service campaigns.”

Michael Pawlowski, David Bethea, Del Humenik, and Steven Nord

SuperMedia has announced several changes to their Executive Vice President Sales.  East EVP Sales – Michael Pawlowski, has retired after more than 25 years of service and West EVP Sales – West David Bethea, has announced his intent to pursue other opportunities.

Two new Executive Vice Presidents (EVPs) will oversee the sales operations in the East and West.  Effective immediately, long time industry veteran Del Humenik will lead the East Sales operation as EVP Sales – East.  Humenik rejoins SuperMedia after his departure in 2003.  Prior to his departure, he was employed by the SuperMedia predecessor companies for more than 19 years, holding positions of increasing responsibility in the Sales organization. Most recently, Humenik worked for Paychex Inc. as Senior Vice President, Sales & Marketing.  He also held senior sales positions with Sprint, Dex and R.H. Donnelley.

Steven Nord who initially started with SuperMedia as a sales consultant, and will now serve as interim EVP Sales – West.  Nord, who has worked for Dex, SBC and Ameritech, is very familiar with the SuperMedia business.  He began his work in the Yellow Pages industry at L.M. Berry, and his career spans more than three decades.

Michael Pocock:

Yell is appointing a new CEO January 1st – Michael Pocock, a former SVP and GM from Cisco’s Linksys home networking division. The announcement ended a six-month search for a successor to John Condron, who has led Yell for 16 years.

From 2006 to 2009, Pocock was Senior Vice President and General Manager of Linksys, the home and SME networking division of Cisco Systems. Prior to Linksys, he was President and Chief Executive of Polaroid Corporation, which he joined in 2003, leading the recovery of the company to profitability and being instrumental in its sale to Peters Group Worldwide. From 1996 to 2002, Michael worked with Compaq Computer Corporation, in roles including Senior Vice President of its Commercial PC business and Senior Vice President for Worldwide Strategy. Prior to that, from 1993 to 1996, he was Vice President and General Manager of the Personal Computing Business of Digital Equipment Corporation.

Pocock started his career with General Electric Company and has also held senior positions in Epson America, Murata Business Systems and Xerox Corporation. From 2003 to 2007, he was on the Board of Stratus Technologies and, from 2005 to 2007, he was on the Board of Wyse Computer.

Pocock has A BA in Telecommunications at the University of Kentucky and has MBA studies at the University of Dallas.

Bob Wigley, Chairman of Yell, said: “We very much welcome Mike. He brings impressive leadership skills and experience from his considerable success in a range of businesses, which made him stand out from a strong candidate list and suit him ideally to the challenges and opportunities of Yell. With the arrival of our new CFO designate and the appointment of Mike, we have the right team in place to manage a seamless succession and to take Yell forward in the next stages of its development.”

UPDATE:  12/9/2010:

Peter McDonald was made the permanent CEO at SuperMedia:  http://bit.ly/fgp9nk