- Kraft Heinz is losing its top marketer, Eduardo Luz, the company confirmed to CNBC. The development adds to a string of high-profile executive departures during a time of crisis for the packaged goods giant and its top brands.
- Chief executive Bernardo Hees, who is stepping down on June 30, announced the news of Luz's departure in an internal email sent last Tuesday. Luz served as U.S. CMO and global brand officer at Kraft Heinz, overseeing more than 200 brands around the world and spearheading marketing for Heinz, Kraft and Planters in the U.S., per Ad Age.
- Luz will leave Kraft Heinz at the end of May, with company veteran Adam Butler, president of beverages, snacks and desserts, handling some of his duties during the replacement search. Eduardo Pelleissone, head of strategic projects, will depart at the same time as Hees, CNBC reported. Hees, Pelleissone and Luz have all been fixtures at the company since its days as H.J. Heinz, which was acquired by the private equity firm 3G Capital and Berkshire Hathaway in 2013 and eventually merged with Kraft Foods in 2015.
Kraft Heinz continues to bleed some of its top leadership after announcing a shocking $15.4 billion write-down of its Kraft and Oscar Mayer brands in February. Some of the criticism lobbed at the company and owner 3G Capital regarding the steep losses has been a heavy focus on cost-cutting that resulted in a failure to build stronger brands and marketing as consumer tastes have shifted away from processed packaged foods.
Luz bowing out at the end of the month means that Kraft Heinz is losing yet another leader who could've reinvigorated those brand building and innovation initiatives. The news not only compounds on recently announced departures, like that of Hees, but also that of Michelle St. Jacques, a decorated marketer who left her role as Kraft Heinz SVP and global head of brands and capabilities to be CMO of MillerCoors in January.
While Kraft Heinz has faced flak for failing to strategically market some of its brands, Luz helped to create some splashy efforts in recent months. During the government shutdown earlier this year, he led a campaign to open a pop-up grocery store in Washington, D.C., that provided furloughed and unpaid federal workers with free food. The effort drove serious earned media coverage and a sales boost, Luz previously told Adweek. Kraft Heinz also ran two Super Bowl ads for the first time this year, including the big game debut of Devour frozen foods, a success story stemming from the company's Springboard incubator program.
As Kraft Heinz sees some of its biggest marketers depart, it's tapping a veteran CMO to lead the company through choppy waters. Miguel Patricio, who served as AB InBev's global CMO from 2012 to 2018, will step in for Hees in July. Patricio has said he will push to make Kraft Heinz more consumer-focused and centered on brand building, speed and organic growth.
Patricio will contend with a long road ahead for restoring interest in legacy brands that operate in a fast-moving and highly competitive category — challenges the executive also faced at AB InBev, a large company that owns a variety of brands and has similarly struggled to adjust to changing consumer tastes. But beyond sales and brand value struggles, Kraft Heinz has other image problems as well.
On Monday, the company said it will restate its full-year and quarterly earnings for 2016 and 2017, per CNN. The decision followed an internal review of its accounting and procurement practices that revealed employee misconduct. Around the announcement of the $15.4 billion write-down for Kraft and Oscar Mayer in February, Kraft Heinz also revealed the SEC was investigating its accounting business.