MillerCoors today named Kraft Heinz executive Michelle St. Jacques as its new chief marketing officer, the first woman to ever hold the role.
St. Jacques was most recently senior vice president and global head of brands and capabilities for Kraft Heinz. She’s scheduled to start February 4.
“Michelle has been a rising star over the past several years, and her record of success with generations-old brands will serve us well,” MillerCoors CEO Gavin Hattersley said in a note to employees. “As consumers continue to demand more from the brands they support, no one is better suited to take on that challenge than Michelle.”
She takes over a role previously held by David Kroll, who departed in July.
At Kraft Heinz, St. Jacques presided over multi-year growth and grew market share with the 150-year-old Heinz brand. She spearheaded creative campaigns and brand-building efforts across a portfolio of established brands including grocery stalwarts Kraft Mac & Cheese and Jell-O. She also previously held a variety of leadership roles at consumer products giant Unilever, including leading global efforts for Dove Body Care and the skin and deodorants portfolio in Canada. She resides in Chicago.
She was named as one of 20 Rising Brand Stars in Chicago in 2017 by the advertising industry publication Adweek, which credited her with “helping craft campaigns that have gotten people talking.” Some of her work includes Heinz’s “Weiner Stampede” Super Bowl spot from 2016, a tongue-in-cheek campaign for Kraft Mac & Cheese called “Swear Like a Mother,” and a revived pitch from fictional TV adman Don Draper called “Pass the Heinz.”
“I’m inspired by brands that have found a way to be part of culture,” St. Jacques told the publication. “Anyone can buy eyeballs, but creating campaigns that people talk about is a more powerful way to build your brand. It’s the new way to think about ROI.”
At MillerCoors, she’ll inherit a portfolio of brands from the nation’s second-largest brewer that are embarking on an aggressive marketing campaign in 2019 amid massive changes in media consumption patterns. MillerCoors is ramping up its marketing investment this year with a growing focus on digital and non-traditional media as it seeks to reach a group of consumers no longer tethered to their living room TVs. It is upping its advertising investment on streaming platforms, digital and social media, long-form content and experiences to broaden its reach.
The company is seeking to regain its footing with Coors Light through a new ad campaign that aims to reconnect the brand with the identity as the World’s Most Refreshing Beer. MillerCoors is investing heavily behind Miller Lite, which has picked up share in the premium lights segment for 16 consecutive quarters. It also is doubling the media spend behind Blue Moon and making big bets on Henry’s Hard Sparkling, Peroni, Cape Line and other products in the above-premium space.
In his note, Hattersley said he’ll lean on St. Jacques’ progressive approach to building brand equity “to take our brands to the next level.”
“Her enthusiasm for the beer category and, specifically, for our MillerCoors portfolio of brands is what gets me even more excited to work with Michelle,” Hattersley said. “While our search may have taken a bit longer than I had hoped, I could not be happier with the result.”
New supply chain chief
MillerCoors also on Friday said that Pacific Region Vice President Brian Erhardt has been appointed chief integrated supply chain officer, replacing Fernando Palacios, who will retire.
Hattersley called Palacios, who spent nearly eight years with the company, “a great ambassador for our brands and for quality in our business.”
Erhardt joined the company in 2002 as a director in the supply chain function, and most recently ran the company’s strategy, pricing and sales function in the Pacific region. “While Brian has big shoes to fill, his combination of commercial experience and supply chain expertise will be a great asset to MillerCoors,” Hattersley said in the note. “In many ways, Brian has been groomed for this job … and I’m confident he will serve MillerCoors well in his new role.”