KFC UK and Ireland has appointed its chief corporate affairs and sustainability officer Jenny Packwood as its interim CMO, while it hunts for a permanent successor to Jack Hinchliffe.
Hinchliffe left the brand after eight years to take up the CMO role at The Habit Burger Grill, a US-based restaurant chain also owned by Yum! Brands. Packwood will take on his responsibilities on a temporary basis, in addition to her current role.
Packwood has been at KFC since 2008, first joining the business as brand reputation manager following more than a decade working in PR agencies. She has held a number of brand-related roles in the business, including head of communications and corporate social responsibility (CSR) between 2010 and 2014, and head of brand engagement from 2014 to 2020.
In 2020 she became director of responsibility and reputation at the fast food brand, before being promoted to chief corporate affairs and sustainability officer last year.
KFC says Packwood taking on the dual role continues its strategy to combine its marketing with sustainability and “responsible growth”, while bringing that into “the heart of its business strategy”.
Hinchliffe had been UK CMO since July 2021, when he was promoted to replace Meghan Farren following her exit. Later that year, KFC was awarded the 2021 Brand of the Year title at the Marketing Week awards for its success navigating the Covid-19 crisis.
Praising Hinchliffe for his work, Packwood says: “It’s no coincidence Marketing Week named us Brand of the Year during Jack’s time as CMO; it’s testament to his impact on the brand over recent years and his tenacious drive for distinctive, bold creative work.”
As she takes over leadership of the fast food chain’s marketing, Packwood promises to further its goal of “embedding” the brand in culture.
“I truly love this brand, so it’s a complete honour to be given the opportunity to steward it for this period. We are blessed with an incredible team of fun, passionate, smart marketers, so honestly my job is simply to let them shine,” she adds.
Prior to Hinchcliffe, Meghan Farren held the CMO role for almost six years before departing to become Asda’s chief customer officer. Farren returned to KFC UK and Ireland as general manager in September 2022.
Welcoming the appointment of Packwood into her former role, Farren says she was a “natural choice” for the interim position.
“[Packwood is] an intuitive, natural brand builder with a tremendous ability to inspire, build teams and develop people – she is an all-round courageous business leader,” she adds.
Last year KFC UK won the Marketing Week Award for Long Term Brand Building Excellence with its ‘The Right Way’ strategic platform, launched in 2017. In the space of five years KFC hit more than £1bn in revenue and grew market share by 38%. The fast-food chain improved quality perceptions (up 6.2 points), value (up 7.3 points) and the brand overall (up 8.7 points), attracting 15 million new customers.
However, 2023 may be a challenging year for the UK business due to difficult macroeconomic conditions. In November Yum! Brands admitted the impact of rising energy costs had been “more pronounced” in the UK than elsewhere, announcing a 7% year-on-year decline in KFC’s UK system sales value over the third quarter, compared to a 25% increase in Europe as a whole.