The consumer package goods marketer named Lee Chaden to the role. Mr. Chaden, 61, had been overseeing sales and marketing functions part-time as senior vice president of human resources and head of the Office of Brand Equity Development.
According to a company spokeswoman, the new position is part of the company's renewed commitment to marketing and media advertising, particularly against its top 27 brands, over the last 18 months.
Sara Lee spent $210 million in measured media in 2002, per Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR.
In addition, Mr. Chaden will work to develop and train sales staff to more effectively reach retail customers, a Sara Lee spokeswoman said.
Greg Sykes, president-CEO of Sara Lee's U.S. Foods Retail division, which houses meat brands including Hillshire Farm & Kahn's and Ball Park, said, "I think this is simply a recognition that marketing and sales are important functional areas, and that there should be someone at corporate that has governance over those functions."
He suggested that Mr. Chaden might help spearhead companywide decisions such as whether to run advertising during wartime or during controversial programming.
As for Mr. Chaden's new position affecting a division's specific marketing plans or agency relationships, Mr. Sykes said those decisions will be left up to the separate divisions.
"I'm expecting him to help us but give us the freedom to do our jobs," he said.