Player Profile: Domecq exec snags Stoli, takes on Captain Morgan

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It's no coincidence the American bringing new international brands to the U.S. for Allied Domecq Spirits & Wines North America has lived in 10 countries and speaks five languages.

As president, Todd Martin has helped the country's seventh-largest alcohol marketer snag one of the biggest names in spirits, Stolichnaya, as well as update campaigns for dusty brands. The tactics sent North American profits soaring 21%, compared with a 16% jump worldwide. Mr. Martin, the 45-year-old son of an official with the U.S. Agency for International Development, credits his foreign experience-both as a child and adult-for giving him insight into international sales. "I'm a cultural chameleon," he said. "I understand other markets outside the U.S."


His most recent coup: securing a decade of U.S. distribution rights this month for Stoli, the Russian export and No. 2 imported vodka after Vin & Sprit's Absolut. Under Mr. Martin's stewardship, Westport-Conn.-based Allied Domecq has also pumped up marketing spending to about $200 million in North America. Much of the total is for consumer advertising, a switch from the company's practice of relying heavily on trade advertising.

Moreover, Mr. Martin has helped to throw a monkey wrench into Seagram Co.'s plan to sell its spirits unit-with Domecq's announcement that it had secured distribution rights for Captain Morgan spiced rum through an alliance with Destileria Serralles, even though Seagram says it still has rights to the Captain.

After graduating from Swarthmore College with a degree in economics, Mr. Martin went to Harvard Business School, then landed in Venezuela with General Electric Co. He left after 18 months and transferred to Chicago. He soon migrated to Kraft, where he spent a decade working on corporate strategy and international marketing in Switzerland, Belgium and Germany. He then left for PepsiCo., where he was VP-marketing for Pizza Hut International.

"Pepsi was very innovative," said Mr. Martin. "If you want to see if you can compete with the best marketers, this was the place to go," he said. "Pepsi was the ultimate growth company."


As Pepsi was spinning off its fast food division into Tricon Global Restaurants, Mr. Martin was moving to Allied Domecq as its first global marketing director. There, he was charged with boosting sales in a stagnant category, at a company not known for its marketing savvy. Two years later, in March 2000, he officially took over as president of the North America unit.

"[Domecq] was one of the world's worst marketing companies," he said, so he hired Paul Block as exec VP-general manager, Allied Domecq North America. Mr. Block, a consumer products expert fresh from launching Danone Groupe's Dannon water, along with Mr. Martin, are luring top marketers from Pepsi, M&M/Mars, and other powerhouses.

"I'm just one of the players here," said Mr. Martin. "[It was our mission] to guide the change in brand strategy, to change the whole culture to become a marketing culture instead of a sales and finance culture," he said.

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