Sainsbury’s shakes up marketing amid decision to drop British Athletics sponsorship

Sainsbury’s has announced role changes for two of its most senior marketers as the big four supermarket continues to shake up its head office.

The changes will see former head of brand communications Mark Given – who was instrumental in the creation of Sainsbury’s controversial WW1 Christmas advert in 2014 – take up the newly created role of director for planning and propositions.

However, Given will only take up the new position on an interim basis.

Given’s previous role as head of brand communications role has been scrapped and replaced with a second newly created position; head of campaigns. Sarah Kilmartin, who was previously head of price, promotions and marketing finance at the supermarket, has been appointed in the newly created role.

“As part of the Sainsbury’s marketing division’s move to a linear, marketing process focused structure, Mark Given is acting Director of Planning & Proposition Development and Sarah Kilmartin is Head of Campaigns – both newly created roles within the division,” said a Sainsbury’s spokeswoman.

In January, Sainsbury’s announced it would cut 500 head office staff as part of its plans to cut up to £500m in operating costs over the next three years. It told Marketing Week in February that it was “recruiting internally” as it continued “in the process of changing and streamlining our marketing structure.”

Sponsorship closure

The supermarket giant has also decided to discontinue its sponsorship of British Athletics two years early.

The deal was due to run out in 2017 but Sainsbury’s used a clause to end the contract at the halfway point. However it will retain its sponsorship of the British Paralympic Team.

Sainsbury’s is believed to have cut it short in order to fuel more price cuts as part of the ongoing battle between the big four supermarkets as they aim to wrestle back market share lost to the cheaper German discounters Aldi and Lidl.

The appointment of Kilmartin as head of campaigns would also suggest it will continue with price-focused marketing as she previously served as head of price and promotions at Sainsbury’s.

“Sainsbury’s has been a proud supporter of British Athletics since 2013 following our sponsorship of the London 2012 Paralympic Games,” added the spokeswoman.

“We remain committed to inspiring and enabling healthy lifestyles for all through our partnership with the British Paralympic Association, and through our Active Kids programme. The decision was made as part of our strategic review last year and we informed British Athletics in March. We wish British Athletics all the best with their future events programme.”