MillerCoors has hired former PepsiCo marketer Gannon Jones as its new VP-brand marketing, giving him oversight of the brewer's largest brands, including Miller Lite and Coors Light.
Mr. Jones was most recently the chief marketing officer for PepsiCo's Global Nutrition Group, which includes Quaker and Tropicana and is based in Chicago, which is also the home of MillerCoors. Mr. Jones will report directly to MillerCoors Chief Marketing Officer Andy England, according to an internal memo. Mr. Jones, a native of Canada, fills the role previously held by Rick Gomez, who left the brewer in March for Target, where he is the VP-brand and category marketing.
A PepsiCo spokesman said executives were not available for comment.
Mr. Jones comes to MillerCoors at a critical time as big beer brands struggle to grow in the face of competition from beer and spirits. The volume declines were a major topic at this week's annual meeting of the National Beer Wholesalers Association convention, which drew nearly 4,000 distributors, suppliers and industry experts to Las Vegas.
In a presentation earlier this week, Benj Steinman, president of trade publication Beer Marketer's Insights, noted that Miller Lite has lost about 20% of its volume in the past five years and is down 30% from its historical peak. (Budweiser has lost 28% of its volume in the last five years, he said.) "It's very, very difficult to reverse these trends and the fact that it got steeper in 2013 is a challenge," Mr. Steinman said.
Mr. Jones, who accepted the job last week, arrived in Las Vegas on Tuesday afternoon, where he began meeting his new associates at the brewer's trade show booth at the wholesalers convention. Asked about the challenges facing big beer brands, Mr. Jones pointed to his PepsiCo experience. His tenure included a stint as VP-marketing at the Frito-Lay division. The Lays brand was "having a some tough times, and I was proud to be part of that turnaround," Mr. Jones said.
In the MillerCoors memo, Mr. England pointed to Mr. Jones' experience in developing the "first-ever global brand strategy ... for the multi-billion dollar Quaker and Tropicana brand franchises, as well as global advertising campaigns and new brand visual identities, which have helped both brands accelerate growth and equity."