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Andy Pharoah has been a major player behind the transformation of Mars, from a low-profile private company to a leading proponent of purpose that is willing to engage on social issues, particularly in terms of sustainability and corporate citizenship — a feat that earned him a PRovoke Media 2020 SABRE award for individual achievement. In the three years since adding sustainability to his responsibilities, Pharoah, who also leads corporate affairs and strategy, has been the steward of Mars' ambitious sustainability objectives to make the company’s operations “sustainable in a generation.” Under his tenure, Mars has made notable progress toward its sustainability goals.
Pharoah has bucked tradition since assuming Mars’ top comms job, the position he stepped into in 2016 after almost a decade in communications leadership roles with subsidiary Wrigley. He led the redesign and launch of a corporate brand for Mars and developed the company’s corporate purpose, as well as a major refresh of the multinational’s online presence.
In 2020, Mars took a significant step to address cultural shifts with the rebrand of Uncle Ben’s rice to Ben’s Original. Pharoah’s leadership in managing the Covid-19 crisis for both internal communications and community engagement – the company has committed over $40M to relief efforts globally – enabled the century-old business to weather a volatile year with compassion.
Mars has also undergone transformation through evolving its portfolio of brands, including the 2020 acquisition of snacks company Kind North America. The biggest share of the Mars business, however, is now in pet care: as well as leading brands such as Pedigree, Whiskas, Royal Canin and Iams, the company’s organic growth and acquisitions in veterinary health means more than half of Mars associates now work in the veterinary field, with more than 3,000 hospitals in 20+ countries. Thanks to Pharoah’s management of these strategic changes, Mars in 2021 saw its profile and its reputation rise to its highest ever level this year, according to RepTrak data.
Before joining Mars chewing gum brand Wrigley in 2008, Pharoah spent 13 years with Hill+Knowlton, where he was head of the corporate practice for Europe, Middle East and Africa. His early career was spent in UK politics.
Can you share a moment in your career when you saw PR's direct impact on business performance?
I see it all the time – and each year. Covid is the biggest most recent example. It saved lives.
What are the communications industry's biggest challenges and opportunities in the year ahead?
To achieve cut-through in a world of outrage and algorithm. To not retreat to petty nationalism.
What have you most admired about this industry over the past year?
What has most disappointed you about this industry over the past year?
Progress on DEI.
How have you switched off from work and maintained wellness over the past year?
Long walks, reading and opera.
Which book/movie/TV show/podcast/playlist/other cultural source has helped you get through the past year or provided inspiration?
I have a reading subscription from Mr B’s – they send me a book a month (fiction). I read things I would never read usually.
If I wasn't working in marketing/communications, I would be...
Sum up 2022 in one word.
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