- General Mills has appointed Doug Martin as its chief brand and disruptive growth officer effective January 3, 2022, according to the December 17 announcement.
- The role, reporting to Dana McNab, President of Strategy and Growth, is an expansion of Martin’s previous work as a disruptive growth officer overseeing General Mill’s in-house startup incubator, GWorks, and offshore project offering, 301Inc. The CEO has also held the position of Interim Chief Marketing Officer since July and has held various positions at the company over the past 15 years. Previously, he served as Head of the North American Dairy Operation Unit of General Mills.
- Under the new title, Martin is tasked with leading global brand building initiatives and emerging business innovation for General Mills. The news points to how marketers of old packaged goods are rethinking their leadership as the category undergoes an intense technological transformation spurred by the pandemic.
General Mills is trying to put innovation first by promoting Martin, who recently led major project efforts for marketer Cheerios, Pillsbury and Häagen-Dazs. Packaged food companies have come under pressure to invest more in digital technology as the COVID-19 crisis accelerates the adoption of e-commerce and direct-to-consumer offerings. Meanwhile, CPGs face challenges around ad targeting and measurement due to the neglect of third-party cookies and other identifiers.
In a statement, McNabb said that wedding operations closely with innovation will allow General Mills to increase its engagement with existing customers and open up new audiences. Adopting the startup mindset is becoming more and more popular in this category to stay current with increasingly fast-moving trends. Procter & Gamble has enacted a strategy it calls “constructive disruption” that recognizes the need to quickly change course in a society under pressure, while also trying to exert greater control over media and marketing.
For General Mills, the news represents another step in the development of marketing leadership. In May, she parted ways with global chief executive Evan Pollard and announced that she had no plans to look for a replacement. Martin’s title prioritizes brand and growth versus general marketing, which may indicate a greater focus on performance-based and experience-based channels. General Mills previously attributed the retooling to an exponential growth strategy built around four directions: building brands boldly, innovating relentlessly, unleashing scale, and being a force for good both societal and globally.
Some of Martin’s work involved promoting new brands. The CEO helped launch Oui, a “French-style” yogurt from Yoplait, in 2017. And the brand’s sales topped $100 million just two years later. General Mills announced that net sales rose 4% year over year to $4.5 billion in the fourth quarter.
“The pandemic has shown us how important we are to consumers,” Martin said in a press release about the promotion. “As we move into the future, we have the opportunity to become more important in their lives, solving problems and providing happiness through our brands. We will continue to learn, experiment, and iterate with new brands and business models.”
The CMO title has become less popular in recent years as marketing mandates have expanded to include more technology and data-driven jobs, although some CPG groups have reprized the role after appearing on their forever end.