Three Top Marketing Execs Leave Sara Lee

Veteran Philippe Schaillee Will Take Over as Head of Department

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CHICAGO ( -- Three top executives are leaving the marketing department at Sara Lee as CEO Brenda Barnes cleans house.

Chief Marketing Officer Kim Feil is departing to "pursue general management opportunities outside of Sara Lee," a company spokesperson said. Also out are Steve Clapp, VP-Ball Park, and Peter Reiner, VP-Sara Lee sweets. Heidi Kleinbach-Sauter, senior VP-research and development, left last week for a position with Altria Group.

New head of marketing
Sara Lee veteran Philippe Schaillee will take over as VP-marketing, strategy, and research and development for the North American region. His position will be a combination of Ms. Feil's and Ms. Kleinbach-Sauter's responsibilities. He will report to C.J. Fraleigh, exec VP and North American chief operating officer. Also filling in for departing executives: Tulin Tazel, VP-process and packaging, will manage day-to-day research and development, reporting to Mr. Schaillee. Tim Roush, VP-lunch and dinner, will additionally oversee the Hillshire Farm, Ball Park and the regional hot dog brands. The changes will be effective May 15.

"Philippe has a consistent track record of leading strong teams and motivating them to high performance," said Sara Lee spokesman Jon Harris. "He really is a top-notch professional, and we look forward to seeing great things from him in this position." He added that Mr. Schaillee will lead insights, category management, pricing, innovation, marketing services and R&D.

Sara Lee's measured media spending increased to $76 million in 2007 from $71 million, according to TNS Media Intelligence. Sara Lee's agency of record is TBWA/Chiat/Day, Los Angeles.

Giving business units more authority
Robert Moskow, an analyst with Credit Suisse, said the changes made it sound like Sara Lee was pushing decision making back to the company's individual business units. "I've seen that a thousand times," he said. "It goes back and forth depending on the company. Sometimes you try to consolidate under one [person], and then you do that until it stops working well, and push it down to individual units to give them more authority to see how that does."

Mr. Schaillee joined Sara Lee in 1994. He was promoted to VP-beverages for Sara Lee Food & Beverage in 2003, and was named VP-breakfast and snacking in 2006.

In his LinkedIn profile, Mr. Schaillee says: "My 12 years of experience have been built in Europe and the U.S. in marketing and general management positions with Sara Lee Corporation, a Fortune 500 company and major FMCG/CPG player. My background stretches from managing local brands in Belgium, Canada and the U.S. to global brand management. I have introduced new brands, turned around underperforming brands, grown large, mature brands."

He lists his specialties as brand equity, consumer insights, and sales and customer marketing management, among other things.

No stranger to housecleaning
Ms. Barnes, a former PepsiCo marketing executive, is no stranger to housecleaning. Like many large food companies, Sara Lee is negotiating a complicated turnaround. The company has divested several businesses in recent years, including its Hanes brands. The company swung to a profit during its second quarter 2008, which ended Dec. 29, 2007, but the North American business continues to be problematic, Mr. Moskow said.

"It's probably a marketing problem, but they're still saddled with the fact that they have a national brand with Sara Lee but a regional distribution model," he said. "So that creates some inefficiencies in your marketing spend. You're on air in some markets where the brand isn't available, like in bread."

The marketing revamp was first reported by Ad Age sibling Crain's Chicago Business.
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