PepsiCo hires Mars Pet Nutrition CMO Jane Wakely for key marketing role

After two decades working at Mars in a range of marketing leadership roles, Wakely has been tapped for the top marketing position at drinks giant PepsiCo.

pepsiLongstanding Mars marketer Jane Wakely is leaving the business after 20 years to join PepsiCo as executive vice president, chief consumer and marketing officer, and chief growth officer of international foods.

As chief consumer and marketing officer, Wakely will focus on driving accelerated growth by “elevating” PepsiCo’s consumer-centricity, innovation, brand and marketing capabilities, the business says.

As chief growth officer of international foods, she will be responsible for accelerating the ‘positive choices’ pillar of the business’s transformation strategy, PepsiCo Positive (‘pep+’). Announced in September, the transformation will put sustainability at the centre of the company’s growth and value strategy, and under the positive choices pillar will evolve its portfolio into new spaces that are better for the planet and people. As part of this, it plans to develop products with more diverse ingredients such as plant-based proteins, nuts, seeds and wholegrains.

Wakely has almost three decades of marketing experience, beginning at FMCG giant Procter & Gamble. She moved to Mars in 2001 as vice-president of marketing and innovation across its European food portfolio, before becoming CMO of global chocolate in 2011.

After six further years she became CMO of Mars Pet Nutrition, one of the largest divisions of Mars’s $40bn (£29.8bn) portfolio, and in 2019 took on an additional role as lead CMO across the business.

Explaining her decision to move, Wakely says: “PepsiCo is a marketing powerhouse known for its commitment to innovation and world-class, consumer-focused brands. I look forward to working with my future colleagues to delight consumers with new propositions and purpose-driven brands that bring pep+ to life.”

The company also appointed Ram Krishnan, currently serving as chief commercial officer, to the newly created role of CEO, international beverages and chief commercial officer. A 15-year PepsiCo veteran, Krishnan will have an end-to-end focus on brand-building, innovation, supply chain, digitalisation, talent and sustainability across the international beverages business.

Effective from January, he will also be charged with leading faster growth for the SodaStream and Beyond the Bottle businesses, as well as the Pepsi Lipton partnership, the company’s joint venture with Unilever. He will continue to oversee the company’s ecommerce business.

Both Wakely and Krishnan will report to PepsiCo chairman and CEO, Ramon Laguarta.

PepsiCo reported a “strong” net revenue growth of 11.6% to $20.1bn (£15bn) over the third quarter of 2021, after seeing much more “competitive growth” through investments enacted in the last year. In particular, Laguarta hailed the business’s investments into brand innovation and marketing for continuing its “competitive advantage” over rivals.