NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Bob Gamgort, longtime North American president of food giant Mars, has resigned.
It's unclear where Mr. Gamgort, one of the most respected marketers in the business, will land next, and whether a replacement has been named. "We can confirm that Bob Gamgort, global president of Mars Chocolate, has decided to leave Mars," a company spokeswoman said in a statement. "We are disappointed to see him go and thank him for all of his contributions over the past 10 years. Bob has agreed to consult with us through year-end to ensure a positive transition and Paul S. Michaels, CEO of Mars, will manage the chocolate business until a successor is named."
In his role, Mr. Gamgort oversaw Mars' multibillion-dollar snack food, pet care and main meal businesses in the U.S. and Canada. The company recently boosted its confection business following its merger with Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co.
Mr. Gamgort launched his marketing career at Kraft Foods, and later spent time managing advertising, sponsorship and national events at Major League Baseball.
He joined Mars in 1998 as VP-marketing for the U.S. Snackfoods division and in 2002 was promoted to North American president. Mr. Gamgort is credited with much of the marketer's success, known for undertaking dramatic moves when necessary. When sales of Snickers began faltering a few years ago, for example, Mr. Gamgort moved out the 20-year veteran and snack food head Martyn Wilks.
Mars' creative brands in the U.S. are largely handled by Omnicom Group agencies. TBWA Worldwide handles the Pedigree, Snickers, Skittles and Starburst, while BBDO Worldwide does work for the M&Ms, Milky Way and, recently, quietly picked up an assignment Fling. Mars also works with Nitro Group for its Twix brand.
Mars is a closely held, family-owned business, based in McLean, Va. With the exception of Skittles and Starburst, Mars has focused its marketing efforts in chocolate and pet food. Mars' M&Ms are locked in an ongoing battle with Hershey's flagship chocolate bar for market supremacy. Recent spikes in commodity costs have muddied the picture.
Together Mars and Wrigley boosted measured-media spending in 2008, to $546 million, from $522 million in 2007. The figures, from TNS Media Intelligence, exclude, Internet, outdoor, and national spot radio.
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Contributing: Emily Bryson York