Diageo Names New North American CMO

James Thompson Will Replace Peter McDonough

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James Thompson
James Thompson

Diageo has promoted an internal candidate to replace North American Chief Marketing and Innovation Officer Peter McDonough, who is leaving the company after nearly nine years.

James Thompson, who is currently the liquor giant's managing director for its global reserve business, will assume the CMO role on Aug. 1. The reserve division covers luxury brands such as Johnnie Walker Blue Label, Cîroc Vodka, Ketel One Vodka andDon Julio Tequila. Previously, Mr. Thompson spent six years as Diageo's CMO for Asia Pacific. He has also held several North American roles, including president for Guinness Canada.

"James brings with him a unique breadth of experience, having held a range of marketing, general and commercial management roles during his two decades within Diageo," Syl Saller, Diageo's global CMO, said in a statement. "His strength in leadership, creative rigor and proven track record in building brands ranging from Guinness to Johnnie Walker Blue Label will be a huge asset to our North America business."

Diageo is the largest U.S. spirits marketer, controlling roughly 20% volume share, according to Sanford C. Bernstein, which noted in a recent report that "Diageo is back to gaining share after a dismal 2014." Smirnoff, which is Diageo's biggest volume brand, grew 4.7% in May, while Crown Royal surged by 32%, thanks to the strong performance of its Regal Apple line extension, according to Sanford C. Bernstein.

The North American CMO change comes after Diageo in late June promoted Deirdre Mahlan to president for Diageo North America, replacing Larry Schwartz, who is retiring at the end of the year. Ms. Mahlan previously served as chief financial officer.

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