New Position Will Oversee Push Into Premium Branded Foods

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NEW YORK ( -- ConAgra Foods is reorganizing its corporate marketing structure to include a new chief marketing officer as well as senior marketing executives for its retail, foodservice and ingredients divisions.

The search, being handled by Wiser Partners, Cincinnati, comes as part of the nearly $30 billion food company navigates its way from an agricultural company to a premier branded food marketer.

The 'next level'
"The company has gotten very

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serious about operations, distribution and other functions [in its turnaround plans], but now it needs to take marketing to the next level," said Tim McMahon, who until recently held the position of vice president of marketing and communications at ConAgra.

Mr. McMahon, brought on by Chairman-CEO Bruce Rohde six years ago, has generally handled oversight of marketing and public relations for what has, until recently, been a variety of separate operating companies. He will continue to act as a consultant to the company through his own firm, McMahon Marketing. Sergio Zyman, former global chief marketing officer of the Coca-Cola Co. and founder of consulting firm Zyman Marketing Group, has been working with ConAgra to lead the marketing reorganization and the relaunch of some of ConAgra's core brands.

The new CMO, who will report to Mr. Rohde, will be the first marketing executive to oversee marketing functions companywide, with responsibilities for corporate communications, public relations, media and marketing services among other functions.

Location a problem
According to one food analyst, recruiting marketers has been difficult for the former-commodity food behemoth because of its location in Omaha, Ne. But company insiders suggest that if the corporation truly wants to fulfill its mission of becoming "America's Favorite Food Company," it is going to have to build the talent of marketers within the organization.

Separately, ConAgra is also searching for a CMO for its Retail Products Co. unit who will report to the division's president and chief operating officer, Marty Thrasher.

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