Ms. Holden, the 40-year-old exec VP-general manager, Kraft Foods' cheese division, earned her current title in July 1995 after sparking a surge in sales at the company's pizza division. While she was president of that unit, the company rolled national with Tombstone, increasing sales with innovative use of radio, cinema, outdoor and Yellow Pages advertising. Jack's, repositioned as a kids' pizza during that time, gained 15% in sales, according to Information Resources Inc. figures, to $325 million.
In mid-year, Ms. Holden turned her attention to the company's flagship business, cheese. She enacted a strategy that focused on using the products as well as emphasizing low-fat and better-for-you cheeses.
A Velveeta campaign from Leo Burnett USA, Chicago, touts the brand as "cooking better than cheddar." Meanwhile, the "5 ounces of milk" campaign from J. Walter Thompson USA, Chicago, for Kraft singles revived the art of the grilled cheese sandwich.
Ms. Holden says she also plans to "leverage our scale" with joint cheese promotions such as a summer recipe, sampling and co-op ad program that began this summer for all the cheese brands.
In the health arena, Ms. Holden is overseeing the launch of 2% Milk Singles, a revamped product that will round out the full-fat line and the Kraft Free Singles made with skim milk.
"We think there's a middle ground between free and full-fat cheese," she says.
Her efforts have paid off, with Kraft posting a 3.9% sales increase to $2 billion in the total cheese category, according to IRI.