Heineken USA Taps New CMO

By Published on .

Nuno Teles.
Nuno Teles.

Heineken USA's top marketing executive is defecting to Diageo.

Nuno Teles, a 14-year Heineken veteran who has been U.S. chief marketing officer since early 2014, is departing to take over as the president of Diageo's beer division, which includes Guinness, starting in March.

His replacement as of April 15 is Jonnie Cahill, who comes from Heineken's global headquarters in Amsterdam, where he is global commerce senior director on the brewer's low and no alcohol brands. He previously served as the brewer's CMO in Russia.

Under Teles, Heineken USA in 2016 overhauled its iconic Most Interesting Man Campaign for Dos Equis, replacing the original lead actor Jonathan Goldsmith with the younger Augustin Legrand, an actor from France.

Jonnie Cahill
Jonnie Cahill Credit: Heineken USA

The makeover kept many of the same tenets as the original campaign but attempted to modernize the ads with present-day scenes connected to the brand's new sponsorship of the College Football Playoff. But Dos Equis sales have cooled of late, failing to match the surge of faster-growing Mexican imports like Corona and Modelo Especial.

Dos Equis dollar sales increased 3.3 percent in the 52 weeks ending Dec.31, compared with 8.2 percent growth on Corona and Modelo's 22.3 percent surge, according to IRI, which does not include bar sales. In June, Heineken shifted Dos Equis from Havas, the original creator of the Most Interesting Man, to Droga5, which is expected to make wholesale changes on the campaign, focusing less on the man and more on the brand.

The brewer's flagship Heineken brand gained 2.1 percent in dollar sales in the 52-week period ending Dec. 31, according to IRI. The brew, which ranks 10th in size by dollar sales, outpaced domestic beers Bud Light (-4.4 percent), Coors Light (-1.6 percent) and Miller Lite (-0.6 percent), according to IRI. But Heineken failed to match fellow European import Stella Artois, which grew 12.7 percent. Heineken's agency is Publicis.

In an internal memo announcing Teles' departure, Heineken USA CEO Ronald den Elzen said under him the marketer "turned around the trends on the Heineken brand, relaunched Strongbow as the #2 cider in the market and grew Tecate Light double digits every year. He also drove the digital and social agenda, stimulated the use of big data for consumer and shopper insights." He was also credited with launching an e-commerce team.

Diageo in its announcement cited Teles' many years of experience in the beer industry. "He has strong strategic orientation, commerciality and thought leadership," said Deirdre Mahlan, president for Diageo North America. The role was previously held by Tom Day, who will continue in his advisory role as chairman for Diageo's beer division, according to the company.

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