Editor's note: This story is revised from the print edition.
Russ Findlay, a veteran PepsiCo and Unilever marketer, is out after less than a year as Major League Soccer’s first chief marketing officer.
Whether Handler takes the CMO title officially won’t be known until an examination of the league’s marketing plan.
“Howard’s been a great asset so far and he’s hit the ground running,” said MLS
Handler, who did not return a phone message, worked with Garber at the NFL before Garber took the top MLS job in 1999. The commissioner tapping into Handler’s expertise echoes the move he made bringing in former NFL marketer Doug Quinn in 2004 to head Soccer United Marketing.
Handler was last with Madison Square Garden, where he was executive vice president of marketing and sales from 2009-11. He also brings an entertainment marketing background to MLS, as he has held various marketing jobs with EMI Music, MTV and Broadway Video, along with Virgin Mobile and Quaker Oats.
Marketing responsibilities at MLS have been in disparate hands at MLS. Since Mark Noonan left as executive vice president of marketing and fan development in 2004, responsibilities have been shuttled between Quinn; Dan Courtemanche, executive vice president of marketing and communications; and current SUM President Kathy Carter.
Findlay’s exit comes as Will Wilson, MLS’s executive vice president of international business and special events, left to join Wasserman Media Group in a deal that also brought Wasserman the representation to likely top NFL draftee Andrew Luck, who is Wilson’s nephew (see related story).