Jamie Gutfreund, global CMO at Wunderman Thompson, is leaving the agency to join toy maker Hasbro as its first-ever chief experience officer, the company said Thursday. It’s unclear who will replace Gutfreund at Wunderman Thompson.
Hasbro says Gutfreund will oversee several of the company’s global marketing functions, including its internal creative agency, Global Consumer Insights and its media team. Gutfreund will look to grow Hasbro brands such as Nerf, Play-Doh, G.I. Joe and My Little Pony.
Gutfreund’s brand-side move likely signals that Hasbro intends to beef up its own in-house agency to become more self-sufficient as the company recovers following its third largest U.S. partner, Toys “R” Us, shuttering its doors due to bankruptcy. “In addition to losing hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue from Toys ‘R’ Us, the liquidation of an additional hundreds of millions of dollars of their retail inventory sold into the market at large discounts was more impactful to 2018 than we, and industry experts, estimated,” Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner previously said in the company’s most recent earning’s call.
Hasbro itself is trying to adapt its own business practices in an ever-changing retail toy market valued at $22 billion. Like many older, large companies, Hasbro is grappling with so-called digital transformation, an area where Gutfreund is likely to play a key role in navigating. Consumers interact with brands through a dizzying number of platforms that include web, mobile, IoT, display, SEO, social media, video, email, call centers and e-commerce, among many, many others. Data captured from these so-called touch points live in disparate systems that struggle to speak with each other, if at all.
Marketing cloud software from companies such as Adobe or Salesforce attempt to solve that problem by centralizing that data and providing a single view of the customer, a probable focus area for Gutfreund at Hasbro. At Wunderman Thompson, for instance, Gutfreund helped guide Best Buy through its incredible turnaround using marketing cloud software. She was also part of then-Wunderman CEO Mark Read’s effort to turn the agency around; Read has since gone on to do the same at WPP.
Although expensive and complicated, cloud platforms allow brands to use first-party data to get a single view of their customers. For a company such as Hasbro, it will look to leverage such tools to not only sell more toys, but also to engage customers through entertainment, an area the company’s CEO has repeatedly pegged for future growth. The company has deals with Fortnite, Overwatch, as well as Disney to make toys, for example. It also had a short-lived stint as a network through a partnership with Discovery.
Hasbro says Gutfreund will report to her new post on April 15.