MillerCoors has hired Kraft Heinz executive Michelle St. Jacques as its new chief marketing officer, replacing David Kroll, who left the brewer six months ago.
She becomes the first-ever female CMO at MillerCoors, which was formed in 2008, and the first woman to hold the title at a big U.S. beer marketer since 2013, when Lesya Lysyj left her role as CMO at Heineken USA.
St. Jacques, who starts Feb. 4, most recently served as senior VP and head of global brands and capabilities at Kraft Heinz, working from Chicago, where MillerCoors is headquartered.
At Kraft Heinz she was charged with building global brand capabilities and marketing. She has been involved with campaigns that have pushed boundaries—by consumer packaged goods standards—such as the “Swear like a Mother” campaign for Kraft Macaroni & Cheese in 2017 that took a very un-June Cleaver-like route and had moms using swear words. She was also involved in the “Wiener Stampede” Super Bowl ad for the Heinz ketchup brand in 2016 that won second place on USA Today’s annual Ad Meter.
St. Jacques previously held a variety of leadership roles at Unilever, including running the global Dove body care business.
“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 an internal memo announcing the hire. “She drove strong multi-year growth and record market shares on the Heinz brand, landing this 150-year-old brand firmly in culture.”
Kraft Heinz in a statment said: “Michelle was a passionate advocate for the Kraft Heinz brands and we wish her great success.”
She joins MillerCoors at a tenuous time in the beer industry, as big brands continue to lose ground. The brewer’s shipment volume fell 3.3 percent last year, according to preliminary estimates from Beer Marketer’s Insights. MillerCoors remains the second-largest brewer in the U.S., trailing Anheuser-Busch InBev, whose volumes fell an estimated 2.9 percent.
Among St. Jacques’ top tasks will be to improve sales trends on MillerCoors’ largest brand, Coors Light, which has been stuck in a slump. The brand’s dollar sales in stores fell 3.9 percent in the 52-week-period ending Nov. 30, according to Nielsen data cited by Beer Marketer’s. Of late, Coors Light has been dialing up its ‘World’s Most Refreshing Beer’ positioning with ads by 72andSunny.
In Friday’s memo, Hattersley conceded that “our [CMO] search may have taken a bit longer than I had hoped,” but added that, “I could not be happier with the result.”
Kroll took the MillerCoors CMO job in 2015, after joining MillerCoors in 2012 as VP of innovation. Earlier this month he accepted the CEO job at COC05, which makes sports drinks touted as having lower calories and sugar than bigger brands such as Gatorade.