- General Mills named Doug Martin as chief brand and disruptive growth officer effective Jan. 3, 2022, according to a Dec. 17 announcement.
- The role, which reports to Chief Strategy and Growth Officer Dana McNabb, is an expansion of Martin's prior work as disruptive growth officer overseeing General Mills' internal startup incubator, GWorks, and its external venture offering, 301Inc. The executive has also served as interim chief marketing officer since July and held various jobs at the company over a 15-year tenure. Previously, he acted as president of General Mills' North America dairy operating unit.
- Under the new title, Martin is tasked with leading global brand-building and emergent business innovation initiatives for General Mills. The news signals how legacy CPGs are rethinking their leadership as the industry undergoes intense technological transformation spurred by the pandemic.
General Mills is trying to place innovation first with the promotion of Martin, who has recently spearheaded key venture efforts for the marketer of Cheerios, Pillsbury and Häagen-Dazs. Food companies have been under pressure to invest more in digital as the COVID-19 crisis accelerates the adoption of e-commerce and direct-to-consumer offerings. Meanwhile, CPGs are contending with challenges around ad-targeting and measurement due to the deprecation of third-party cookies and other identifiers.
In a statement, McNabb said that more closely wedding brand operations with innovation would allow General Mills to increase relevance with existing customers and unlock new audiences. Adopting a startup mentality has grown more common in the category to stay on the ball with increasingly fast-moving trends.
For General Mills, the news marks another step to evolve marketing leadership. In May, it parted ways with global CMO Ivan Pollard and announced it had no plans to seek a replacement. Martin's title prioritizes brand and growth versus general marketing, potentially pointing to a larger focus on performance-based and experience-driven channels. General Mills previously attributed the retooling to its Accelerate growth strategy that is built around four directives: boldly building brands, relentlessly innovating, unleashing scale and being a force for good at both the community and global levels.
Some of Martin's work has involved fostering new brands. The executive helped launch Oui, a "French-style" yogurt from Yoplait, in 2017. The brand topped $100 million in sales just two years later. General Mills reported net sales increased 4% year-on-year to $4.5 billion in its most recent quarter.
"The pandemic showed us just how critical we are to our consumers," Martin said in a press statement around the promotion. "As we head into the future, we have the opportunity to become even more important in their lives, as we solve problems and deliver joy through our brands. We'll continue to learn, experiment and iterate with new brands and business models."
The CMO title has broadly become less common in recent years as marketing mandates expand to encompass more tech and data-driven functions, though some CPGs have reinstated the role after appearing to sunset it for good.