- Roberto Rios, CMO of PepsiCo's global beverages, is leaving to fill a newly created chief marketing officer role at Schwan's Company, according to a press release from the marketer behind brands like Red Baron and Big Daddy's pizza.
- Rios will help Schwan's accelerate digital transformation, along with strengthening the company's brands and keying into trends around evolving consumer preferences, CEO Dimitrios Smyrnios said in a statement.
- At PepsiCo, Rios stewarded global brands like Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Gatorade and Aquafina, and prior to that worked at major subsidiaries like snack marketer Frito-Lay.
At the tail end of a tumultuous year for CMOs, Rio's shift over to Minnesota-based Schwan's — a smaller organization than PepsiCo — could raise a few eyebrows. Pepsi's parent company has recently touted how pouring more investments into media and advertising has helped turn business around at a time when soft drink consumption is on the decline. New product innovations from the marketer have taken off with consumers, such as Gatorade Zero or the flavored seltzer line Bubly, the latter of which PepsiCo is aiming to make its next billion-dollar brand, per Beverage Daily.
Rios, a 25-year marketing industry vet, notably helped introduce Pepsi's new global tag line, "For the Love of It," last summer, which is running in 100 countries but not the U.S.
Pepsi is also in the middle of an extensive holiday campaign that touches across its Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Pepsi Zero Sugar, Wild Cherry Pepsi and Pepsi Vanilla variants. The effort, which runs through December, puts a mobile-minded spin on the pay-it-forward concept, with QR codes on packaging unlocking a digital scratch-off game with cash rewards that can be gifted to friends and family.
Pepsi has ramped up its marketing efforts recently, partially in response to losing market share to its chief rival Coca-Cola last year. Some clear wins on the product front seem to put Pepsi in a more advantageous position as the decade comes to a close. Coke CEO James Quincey told CNBC earlier this week that his company did not move quickly enough to capitalize on consumer interest in the sparkling water category. Coke plans to roll out its own seltzer offering, called AHA, on March 2 in the U.S., where it will compete with PepsiCo's Bubly and other labels like La Croix.
In other respects, Rios' new duties at Schwan's mirror changes that occurred during his time at Pepsi. Food and beverage organizations continue to put a high premium on digital transformation skills when seeking out marketing leaders, a sign that mastering channels like e-commerce and omnichannel retail is becoming increasingly essential for the role.
Pepsi has put more resources behind online retail, and earlier this year, The Drum reported PepsiCo was recruiting for an in-house team focused on combining data and media planning. PepsiCo reported net sales rose 4.3% year-on-year to $17.2 billion in Q3 results released in October.