WALLDORF, GERMANY--German technology giant SAP is to merge its marketing and comms functions, and has hired Victoria Clarke to lead corporate affairs.

Political veteran Clarke becomes SAP's fourth communications head in three years.  She is also the first American to lead the company's PR department, according to German business publication WirtschaftsWoche.

She joins a marcomms department that has been merged under the leadership of CMO Jonathan Becher.

According to an email memo obtained by WirtschaftsWoche, SAP co-CEOs Bill McDermott and Jim Hagemann Snabe note that "the integration of marketing and global communications is the right thing to do not only for the business, but also for our employees. We know there is need for clearer alignment of responsibilities across SAP, and enhanced career development opportunities, as well."

Clarke succeeds interim comms head Barbara Schaedler, who was recently named as Lufthansa's global communications chief. Hubertus Kuelps, who led SAP's corporate communications function for two years, departed the company at the end of 2012 to join UBS

Prior to Kuelps, the role was held by Herbert Heitmann, who left in 2010 to oversee public relations at Shell.

Clarke has served in three Republican presidential administrations, most notably as the assistant secretary of defense for public affairs under Donald Rumsfeld, and also worked as senior advisor for communications and government affairs at Comcast.