The New Establishment: Expanding PR’s portfolio

How Molson Coors’ Jessica Vieira Teixeira earned the brewer a major bump in spend.

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This story originally appeared in the March/April 2020 issue of strategy.

Prior to 2017, Molson Coors’ PR team was mostly brought in for activities deemed “PR-able” by the marketing department – product launches, stunts and the like.

Then Jessica Vieira Teixeira joined the company.

As the brand PR manager at Molson, she pushed for a permanent seat at the table, believing PR tactics could help Molson’s portfolio shine at a time of declining trust among consumers and shifting tastes in bev alcohol, resulting in faltering beer sales across the industry.

At times, it’s a slow build, says Vieira Teixeira. Much of what she works on – influencer campaigns, for instance – is relatively new for Molson. But after three years, her efforts have led to an impressive 350% bump in PR investment. This comes as overall budgets are flat to declining, notes Joy Ghosh, marketing director for Molson North America. In the fall, the global company consolidated its Canadian and U.S. business units into a single operation as part of a restructuring that’s expected to cut costs by $150 million.

“PR budgets have grown because we believe, through Jessica’s leadership, that it’s an effective tool to drive brand breakthrough in today’s fragmented media market,” says Ghosh.

Vieira Teixeira says she has “earned a place for earned at the table” by making Citizen a critical agency partner, improving measurement and reporting systems, and encouraging Molson to do what Ghosh says would have previously felt “uncomfortable” for the brewer, like working with micro-influencers for Mad Jack to raise awareness among younger beer drinkers. She also recently helped gain airtime for Molson with local news outlets when promoting The Molson Partnership, a program that awards grants and mentorship opportunities to small businesses.

Outside the PR department, Vieira Teixeira is a mentor to a couple Molson employees, who have either approached her directly or been recommended by their manager. Last year, she and one of her mentees organized Molson’s first International Women’s Day event – which featured workshops and industry speakers – as a passion project. She helped lead the event again this year, in addition to sharing insights on diversity and inclusion with Molson’s global leadership team, as part of a panel at an internal conference in January.

When it comes to inclusion, there’s still work to be done, she says. For example, there are some D&I programs run out of Milwaukee that she would like to bring to Toronto. “We all benefit so much from having a diverse work environment,” she says. “Different perspectives will lead us to be empathetic marketers.”

A University of Toronto alumnus, Vieira Teixeira started her career agency-side, holding account management positions while at The Marketing Store. A few years later, she moved to DDB, working with Volkswagen during the diesel emissions crisis in a hybrid CRM-brand role. That’s where she learned to become a generalist, handling everything from product launches to experiential auto shows, while “dipping her toes” in crisis management.

Today, she’s one of the few people who work across Molson’s entire portfolio, 24 of which have active PR budgets. Moving forward, she’ll continue to work with the marketing team to make PR “a part of the integrated marketing communications process from the get-go, so that we can make an impact,” she says. “That, for me, is the biggest [achievement] beyond any project or campaign.”