Kraft Heinz restructures marketing team, again

Former CMO Dana Somerville has left the company as full marketing leadership moves to the chief brand and category officer.

Kraft Heinz

Kraft Heinz Canada has changed its marketing structure, having chief brand and category officer Federico Arreola assume marketing leadership.

This is following the earlier elimination of the CMO role for the second time since 2017.

Dana Somerville, who had led the Canadian marketing team since January 2019, exited Kraft Heinz in mid-March, just as the country’s CPG companies began grappling with erratic consumer demand and rapid marketing pivots during the early stages of the pandemic.

In an email to strategy, Somerville did not provide an explanation for her departure, saying only that it came within months of her transition from CMO to Kraft Heinz Canada’s first chief growth and sustainability officer in December. In the new role, Somerville maintained oversight of consumer insights and product and packaging innovation and was given the lead on sustainability, portfolio and brand segmentation, and “long-range enterprise plans,” she said. According to Somerville, the CMO title was eliminated in Canada following her promotion, and oversight of brand equity and communication transitioned to Arreola.

In response to emailed questions, Kraft Heinz confirmed its marketing structure has changed. However, it did not respond to certain questions, including whether or not it intends to appoint another CMO or chief growth officer.

With Somerville’s departure, the company’s sustainability agenda has been handed to Nicole Fischer, head of sustainability for Kraft Heinz in Canada, and her remaining marketing-related functions transferred to Arreola.

FedericoArreola (pictured), a former head of the company’s grocery business unit, was made chief brand and category officer in November. He holds P&L responsibility over Kraft Heinz’s retail business, which spans more than 50 categories, and manages marketing investment across the portfolio, reporting directly to Canada zone president Bruno Keller. Arreola’s mandate includes innovation, portfolio strategy, brand equity, marketing communications, pricing, assortment and in-store executions.

In an email, Arreola described his role as an “evolution of a previous role that had been in place for many years.” The new structure integrates the company’s category, brand build and innovation teams, he said.

“This change allows us to streamline our processes and connectivity, driving increased efficiencies and more agile decision-making,” Arreola said. “We are better able to prioritize, make trade-offs and have more holistic business discussions at a much faster pace and we’re better able to respond to the always evolving consumer and retail landscape.”

It’s the second time in three years that Kraft Heinz has terminated the CMO position. In 2017, then-CMO and 19-year Kraft Heinz veteran Brian Kerr was let go as marketing duties were transferred to the leads of individual sector businesses. Somerville, then VP and head of brand build, innovation and R&D for Canada, was part of that interim marketing team. At the time, a company spokesperson said the search for a new CMO was on hold until it could evaluate if the new structure met its business needs.

Come January 2019, Somerville was elevated to a reinstated CMO role, which took effect as leadership of the company’s Canadian operations was transferred to the U.S. under Nina Barton, who took on the duties in addition to her role as president of global digital online growth from Chicago. Within a year, Barton was replaced by Keller as president of the Canada zone, as the former moved into the new global role of chief growth officer, adding oversight of R&D, channel growth and innovation to her remit.

Kraft Heinz is reportedly planning to share the details of its recently completed enterprise strategy in the fall, which includes clearly defined strategies, regional priorities and growth plans. “What I can tell you now is we are reshaping our company and our business for the future by placing consumers at the centre of everything we do,” Kraft Heinz U.S. Zone president Carlos Abrams-Rivera recently told Forbes.

Arreola said the Canadian marketing department “will play a critical role in this strategic plan as we continue to build and strengthen our brand relevancy, revolutionize our marketing communications and engagement with our consumers, while looking into new whitespace growth opportunities.”

Kraft Heinz reported a year-over-year organic net sales increase of 6.2% during Q1, thanks to a bump of roughly six or seven percentage points attributed to pandemic buying. On an earnings call, global CEO Miguel Patricio said the company would continue investing in its brands throughout 2020, adding that changes were underway to “rebalance” its spend to align with the short- and long-term impacts of the pandemic on consumer behaviour.

Patricio said the company remained committed to earlier plans to reduce costs from agency relationships and innovation in order to increase its overall marketing spend and media to support its most “iconic” brands by around 30% this year.