Just three months after being hired as Campbell Soup Co.'s first digital marketing and social-media director, Adam Kmiec made a bold, if not brassy, claim in a pitch to job seekers: "If you're serious about digital, there is no better place to be than The Campbell Soup Co.," he wrote in August on his personal blog, the Kmiec Ramblings.
"We are the rocket ship that you should never pass up and I happen to have six open seats," he added, enlisting the same space-travel analogy Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg has used to describe how Google once lured her. Young, confident and restless, Mr. Kmiec is on a mission to transform the digital culture at the 143-year-old food marketer, with efforts ranging from new training programs to the addition of six positions, including digital insights lead and manager of mobile and emerging media. Campbell, he wrote, "will become the most digitally fit [consumer packaged-goods] organization in the world."
That's a lofty promise and a challenging one considering the investments that competitors are making in top digital talent. Last year, Nestle lured longtime internet marketing guru Pete Blackshaw to be its new global head of digital marketing and social media. And Kraft Foods recently hired former PepsiCo digital and social-media leader Bonin Bough to serve as VP of global media and consumer engagement for Mondelez International, Kraft's new company for international snack and candy brands.
From meal planning to mobile payments, "digital is actually changing purchase behavior," said Sarah Hofstetter, president of digital shop 360i, whose clients include Kraft. "So if [food companies] are not going to have digital talent sitting in the top ranks, they'll be missing out on trends."
Mr. Kmiec, 33, has changed jobs frequently, with stops at Fallon , Leo Burnett, ConAgra, Colle & McVoy, Draft Worldwide, Quantum Leap and Marc USA. While serving as director of social media at Walgreens, he recently partnered with Foursquare on a groundbreaking system that delivers coupons with check-ins.
Campbell is boosting its digital budget more than 40% in the fiscal year that began July 30, Mr. Kmiec said in an interview. The hike comes even as Campbell trims its overall marketing spending. This fall, digital will play a key role supporting two big product launches: Campbell's Go soup in microwavable pouches and Campbell's Skillet Sauces. "You're going to see things that you probably would never have imagined coming from Campbell's," Mr. Kmiec said, alluding to planned partnerships with BuzzFeed and Funny or Die, among others.
CEO Denise Morrison has made digital media a top priority at the company since taking over about a year ago. During a recent presentation to financial analysts, she acknowledged that "in many respects, [consumers] are ahead of us" and "food companies and retailers are just beginning to understand the power of digital marketing."
Earlier this year, Campbell was among the first to use a new tool from Twitter that targets ads based on user interests. The company was given 72 hours to come aboard. "We got it done in 24 [hours]," Mr. Kmiec said. "That's how you change the game in this space."