Former Clinton political operative to be Microsoft's chief strategy officer

Mark Penn, who was behind Microsoft's 'Scroogled' campaign, was just named to the newly created VP position in a shakeup of Microsoft's inner circle

The chief strategist for Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential bid and the spark behind Microsoft's inspirational Super Bowl ad has been named chief strategy officer in a shakeup of the company's inner circle announced Monday.

Mark Penn will fill the newly created position executive vice president/chief strategy officer, CEO Satya Nadella announced in an email to Microsoft employees. He has been executive vice president of advertising and strategy.

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"Mark brings a blend of data analysis and creativity that has led to new ways of working and strong market outcomes such as the "Honestly" campaign and the Super Bowl ad," Nadella says, "both of which were widely cited as examples of high impact advertising across the industry."

Nadella says as chief strategy officer Penn will be called upon to advise on new product ideas as well as strategic investments. Bill Gates has also been called upon to advise on new product ideas by culling through research done by teams within the company.

Nadella's email also confirms earlier rumors that executive vice presidents Tony Bates and Tami Reller would be leaving the company, Bates to "look for his next opportunity" and Reller to "pursue other interests outside the company."

Reller's replacement, Chris Capossela, will hold the title executive vice president/chief marketing officer. His job will be to articulate the things that Microsoft uniquely can do and wrap it all up in a cohesive message. He has marketing experience in the company, including the launch of consumer products including Windows 8/8.11, Surface tablets, and Xbox One. "He is a strong organizational leader, and the work he has done with retailers, operators and OEMs on a global basis gives him real visibility and insight into how consumers are buying and using our products," Nadella says.

Penn was formerly CEO of public relations firm Burson-Marsteller and ran the polling firm Penn Schoen Berland.

He is behind Microsoft's Scroogled campaign that took Google to task for various aspects of its search engine practices, Chromebook, Gmail, and Google Apps. The campaign itself has been attacked and even ridiculed as ham-fisted attack ads.

He was hired by former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer in 2012 as corporate vice president of strategic and special projects, although he consulted on a one-off basis before that.

He was a consultant to President Bill Clinton and helped out on Hillary Clinton's senatorial and presidential campaigns.

Tim Greene covers Microsoft and unified communications for Network World and writes the Mostly Microsoft blog. Reach him at and follow him on Twitter @Tim_Greene. Read more about software in Network World's Software section.

This story, "Former Clinton political operative to be Microsoft's chief strategy officer" was originally published by Network World.