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Safeway Loses Its Marketing Chief

Cornell Exits Nine Months After Handing $200 Million Account to DDB

By Published on .

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AdAge.com) -- Brian Cornell, exec VP-chief marketing officer of Safeway, is leaving the $40.5 billion grocery-store chain.
Under Brian Cornell, Safeway shifted its traditional price/item advertising to a brand-focused image.
Under Brian Cornell, Safeway shifted its traditional price/item advertising to a brand-focused image.

The announcement comes a little more than nine months after the 1,775-store Safeway moved its $200 million account from longtime agency Interpublic Group of Cos.' Dailey & Associates, Los Angeles, to Omnicom Group's DDB, Chicago.

Whether the leadership change will impact the account remains to be seen. Calls to the company and agency were not returned at press time.

Joined in '04
Mr. Cornell will leave June 1 "to actively pursue a search for the top leadership role at another company," according to a press release by the company. The former PepsiCo executive joined Safeway in 2004.

Until a replacement is found, the marketing organization will report directly to CEO Steve Burd, who listed Mr. Cornell's accomplishments, including "reorganizing and energizing our centralized marketing, merchandising and supply-chain functions to improve their effectiveness, enhancing our capability to develop and utilize consumer and shopper insights, and building our brand."

During Mr. Cornell's tenure, he overhauled marketing and shifted the chain's traditional price/item advertising to a brand-focused image, first with the spring 2005 launch of the "Ingredients for Life" TV campaign.

"I depart Safeway as a huge fan of the strategy, the brand and the organization," he said in a statement. "While I am ready to pursue the next step in my career, I believe that Safeway is very well positioned to continue to thrive and grow for years to come."
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