CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- Kevin George, the executive who spearheaded unconventional marketing campaigns for Axe body spray and Captain Morgan rum, has joined Beam Global Spirits & Wine as chief marketing officer.
Mr. George, most recently VP-general manager of Unilever's deodorant and health-care unit, replaces Rory Finlay, who is leaving the company. The new CMO will manage a portfolio of brands that includes Jim Beam bourbon, Sauza tequila and Effen vodka, among others.
Mr. Finlay joined Beam in early 2007 and led an ambitious overhaul of its marketing approach, focusing the company's entire ad budget on creating word-of-mouth buzz. The effort had some successes, particularly on the Canadian Club and Maker's Mark brands. But Beam Global's sales fell 3.3% during the first half of this year amid a difficult climate for spirits brands. Its parent company, Fortune Brands, announces third-quarter earnings Oct. 23.
"Rory was instrumental in developing our brand-building vision, sharpening our focus on consumer insights, implementing new ways of marketing, and helping develop and launch successful new products," said Matthew Shattuck, Beam's CEO. "Rory told me some time ago that he felt the time was right to move on, and I appreciate that he agreed to stay on and help us transition to new marketing leadership."
A nontraditional marketing approach is expected from Mr. George, who takes up his new post Sept. 28. A 13-year Unilever veteran, he is most likely to be remembered for the Axe launch. (Beam's Mr. Shattuck also spent 16 years at Unilever, but the two are not believed to have worked together.) Prior to joining the package-goods maker, he worked at Seagram Americas on brands such as Absolut, Chivas Regal, Crown Royal and Captain Morgan.
"I'm excited that Kevin George will be joining Beam Global to lead our global marketing team," said Mr. Shattuck. "With his two decades of experience driving business growth for consumer package-goods companies, passionately building power brands, and developing innovative strategies to connect with consumers, Kevin has what it takes to propel our marketing capabilities to the next level."