In Part 1 of my article profiling Campbell Soup Company (CPB), dated Oct. 4, 2012, I submitted that a turnaround at Campbell Soup was under way led by new (hired Aug. 1, 2011) President and Chief Executive Officer Denise Morrison. The impetus behind writing the initial article was the decision by Morrison to close an underperforming and outdated Sacramento production facility. Sometimes it takes fresh leadership with a new pair of eyes to see and act on the obvious, and to make bold changes like shuttering a plant that had been on life support for years.
The focus of today's article is the decision by the CEO to create and fund the new executive-level role of chief marketing officer and the announcement of the appointment of Michael Senackerib to fill it. Although common at many S&P 500 companies, this is the first time such a position has existed at Campbell Soup.
Background and Experience of the New Chief Marketing Officer
Senackerib, at age 47, comes to the position well prepared. He has held marketing, brand management, and general management roles of increasing responsibility in the food industry, including at Campbell. He led Kraft's (aka Mondelez International, Inc.) $3.8 billion biscuit portfolio, global snacks sector, and the direct store delivery business. He also served as executive VP of Nabisco's $1.2 billion salted snack division. From 1992 to 1996, Senackerib held several key marketing roles in Campbell Soup's U.S. soup business. Most recently he was senior VP and chief marketing officer at Hertz, where he held global responsibility and accountability for all things associated with the Hertz brand. As chief marketer he led advertising, market research, digital marketing, and travel partnership marketing. He enhanced Hertz's marketing and increased revenue growth and profitability. He created a customer experience team to improve customer satisfaction and web sales.
The bottom line: According to the Campbell press release, "He updated the Hertz brand with new branding and advertising supported by an optimized marketing mix."
Benefits of New Position
In announcing the appointment, Morrison acknowledged that world-class marketing was critical to the future success of Campbell Soup as it tries to drive increases in profitability through sales growth and introduce new products. She highlighted the fact that Senackerib has significant experience running customer-focused businesses and that Campbell must put the consumer in the center of everything brand-related. Senackerib will lead Campbell's marketing function, including marketing services, global advertising, design, media, internet, social and digital marketing, and consumer and customer insights.
Connecting With Younger Consumers
While traditional soup sales have stalled or as consumers select less expensive store-branded products, according to an article by the Associated Press, Campbell Soup is in the process of launching dozens of new products targeted for consumers in their 20s and 30s. Some of the new soups come in plastic pouches that can be microwaved, and new soup flavors designed to appeal to this new demographic include Thai and Moroccan flavors. Campbell Soup needs new customers to drive growth and this initiative paired with new digital marketing platforms to reach the younger consumer may help build a new, loyal consumer base.
Part of the responsibility of the new chief marketing officer will be to "engage" consumers through the use of digital media. 78% of the U.S. population is on the Internet (as of April 2012) and consumers in the 18-34 demographic spend more than two hours per day on the Internet on various digital media. Heavy digital marketing was a strategy used successfully by Senackerib in his Hertz position.
The turnaround at Campbell Soup will take time, but it is on the right track. Morrison is the leader that likely will get the job done as evidenced by some of the bold moves she has made in her first 14 months. The creation of the first ever Campbell chief marketing officer and retaining Senackerib to fill that position has the potential to be a game-changer for Campbell Soup.
Disclosure: I am long CPB.