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Cindy McCaffrey, Google’s vice president of corporate marketing, is leaving the technology company, the first top executive to depart after the IPO. McCaffrey has been chugging away at the P.R. business for 20 years, including gigs at Apple Computer, E*TRADE and the 3DO Company. And that’s after starting a career as a journalist. She’s been at Google more than five years, which means that, post-IPO, she can comfortably go off and do nothing. And that’s apparently what she intends to do for now.

McCaffrey shaped Google’s low-key marketing approach, rejecting a high-profile campaign in the company’s early years in favor of word-of-mouth marketing, colleague Matt Marshall says. “Remember, (then interim marketing V.P.) Scott Epstein brought in some high-powered advertising experts and proposed a massive advertising campaign in late 1999. McCaffrey, siding with Larry Page and Sergey Brin, rejected that approach, saying they’d rather spend their money on developing the best product, which would be the best way of generating publicity. That was a significant step for two reasons. First, because everyone else around them at the time was spending millions on ads. Second, because other search engines (think Excite, et al) had successfully pursued such ad strategies to get a leap ahead of the competition.”

The rest, as they say, is history.

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