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When Cammie Dodson became product manager for Rold Gold pretzels at Frito-Lay in 1992, the brand was a growing, $122 million business with no ad support.

Within 12 months, Rold Gold exploded into a $181 million bonanza, thanks to its first national ad campaign, increased trade support and line extensions.

"Pretzels have all the right dynamics," says Ms. Dodson, a 32-year-old Harvard M.B.A.

"Pretzels are low in fat because they are baked; they tend to be a good value; and they appeal to all age groups. It seemed as if pretzels would get incredibly exciting and we felt Rold Gold needed to be in the forefront."

Ms. Dodson and her brand team were right on. With nearly $1 billion in sales, pretzels now are the salty snack industry's fastest-growing category.

Under Ms. Dodson's leadership, Rold Gold solidified its No. 1 position partly because of a $5 million consumer ad budget.

Jason Alexander from NBC's "Seinfeld" was tapped as Rold Gold spokesman in its first-ever network TV campaign, which began in August 1993.

"We wanted to make Rold Gold seem more hip and Jason has great appeal," says Ms. Dodson. "In the spots [from DDB Needham Worldwide, Chicago], he makes the brand the hero."

Above all, Ms. Dodson was a vocal champion for the brand. Management listened and Rold Gold took off. In April, so did Ms. Dodson. Frito-Lay promoted her to sales and marketing manager for its North Division, where she focuses on all Frito-Lay brands in a 13-state area.

As one company insider put it, "She's one to watch."

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