Snapchat hires CMO to freshen up app marketing like he did McDonald's burgers
Snapchat hired its first chief marketing officer, a veteran of branding at Gatorade and McDonald’s, to help lead its advertising effort as it tries hook more users for a newly updated Android app.
On Thursday, Snapchat announced Kenny Mitchell will join the company in the new role in June, reporting directly to CEO Evan Spiegel. “Mitchell will lead all consumer and product marketing programs,” Snapchat says in its hiring announcement.
Mitchell is the fourth new addition to Snapchat’s executive ranks since November. The company has been undergoing an overhaul in leadership following a challenging year marked by a dip in users and missteps with a redesign of the app that turned off its core consumers.
However, Mitchell joins Snapchat just as it is starting to show signs of a turnaround, especially after announcing first-quarter results that impressed Wall Street analysts. The number of daily active users reached 190 million, an increase of 4 million people from the prior quarter. But that's still down 1 million users from the same period a year ago.
One of Mitchell’s first responsibilities will be to help promote the Android app that Snapchat redesigned in recent months and just rolled out widely. Android phones, which run Google’s software, account for more than 85 percent of the global market, according to the marketing intelligence firm IDC.
If Snapchat hopes to compete globally it needs a version of its app that works as well on Android as it does on iPhones. “I look forward to helping Evan [Spiegel] and Snap continue to tell their story to people around the world and working with my new colleagues as we define the future of the camera and self-expression,” Mitchell said in the announcement.
The marketing push for the new Android app is already underway, and Snapchat released new promotional videos earlier this month. Snapchat declined to comment about the rest of the marketing strategy or disclose whether it was working with any Madison Avenue agencies.
Snapchat is mostly known for in-house marketing, often relying on homegrown talent to launch new products, like when it debuted Spectacles, the camera glasses, in 2016. The company also has a knack for generating its own buzz at events, like in 2017 when it brought a Ferris wheel to Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.
As head of consumer engagement at Gatorade, Mitchell was early to embrace Snapchat as an advertising platform and assisted on the first Super Bowl ad on the app in 2016. Gatorade was the first Super Bowl sponsor with a Lens, which people used to virtually splash themselves with the sports drink in video selfies.
Lenses have been one of Snapchat’s innovative ad formats, combining brands and augmented reality, which is a technology now being adopted by major rivals like Facebook, Google and Apple.
Mitchell was most recently at McDonald’s, where he was vice president of brand content and engagement. During his tenure, the world's largest restaurant introduced a fresh beef patty cooked upon ordering. McDonald’s campaign for the fresh burger was called “Speechless,” and Mitchell helped craft the ad strategy, which included social, digital, mobile, TV and radio.
"We thank Kenny for his many contributions to McDonald’s and wish him all the best on this next adventure," Morgan Flatley, chief marketing officer at McDonald’s USA, said in an email. "His lasting impact is seen in the talented team he’s helped build, which day-in, day-out has carried forward the McDonald’s tradition of putting our customers first, with fun and creativity."
Contributing: Jessica Wohl