Mars hires top Heinz marketer in Euro rejig

Giannetto Michelassi lands senior European role at Mars petcare in wake of major restructure

Mars has restructured its European petcare business and poached senior Heinz marketer Giannetto Michelassi to take a leading role.

Ann Francke, European vice-president of petcare marketing, has reorganised her team into four divisions.

Michelassi, previously general manager of European sauces (ketchup) at Heinz, becomes European marketing director for “fun” brands Pal, KiteKat and Frolic.

It is unclear if Michelassi has been replaced at Heinz.

His departure comes after European director of sauces, Stefan Barden, quit to join e-commerce services company iForce (MW May 11). Barden was replaced by Robin Walker, formerly European director of convenience meals.

Michelassi replaces Ric Simcock, who quit to start marketing agency Elephants Can’t Jump with Mars former European brands and innovations director Bob Morrison. He has yet to be replaced.

Mark Johnson, previously UK marketing director of Pedigree Masterfoods, becomes European marketing director for flagship brands Pedigree and Whiskas. UK managing director Mike Davies will oversee marketing operations until Johnson is replaced.

Sylvie Lefevre, marketing director of petcare in France, becomes European marketing director for premium brands Sheba and Cesar. Alexander Ribbink, brand development director of Unilever’s Iglo-Mora frozen food division in the Netherlands, joins in March as European marketing director of specialist veterinary brands Advance and Waltham.

The company has also confirmed Germany-based Axel Alber as e-marketing manager, responsible for developing online ventures including recently-launched

Francke says: “This brings together a multicultural team to drive forward petcare marketing across Europe at an exciting time for innovation and growth.”

The Pedigree Masterfoods roster, which includes AMV.BBDO, D’Arcy, Grey and M&C Saatchi, is unlikely to change.