Andy Pharoah | Influence 100

Andy Pharoah

VP Corporate Affairs, Strategic Initiatives & Sustainability 



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 four 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. In January of this year, Mars decided that the company’s iconic M&M spokescandies will be on "indefinite pause” after they were criticized as “Woke M&M’s” after being freshened up a bit.

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, 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. Covid was a clear example where quite simply it saved lives. Our campaigns to drive dog adoption lead to really happy outcomes.

What are the communications industry's biggest challenges and opportunities in the year ahead?

The biggest challenge and opportunity is to get to grips with generative AI and all that it offers and threatens. Alongside that how to get true cut through in a world of endless comms channels, misinformation and news-weary consumers. As an industry we need to be prepared for a very different world of increased polarization.

What have you most admired about the communications industry over the past year, and what has disappointed you? 

The resilience always impresses me.

What work from your team are you most proud of over the past year?

Our work on Bounty in the UK, Sheba Hope Reef plus M&Ms Super bowl were exceptional.

How have you switched off from work and maintained wellness over the past year?

Reading. music, watching sport and exercise.

Which book/movie/TV show/podcast/playlist/other cultural source has helped you get through the past year or provided inspiration?

‘Birds Without Wings’ by Louis de Bernières. I’m also very impressed with Tortoise Media’s Slow news.

If I wasn't working in marketing/communications, I would be...

Most likely a teacher.