Woolworths appoints new CMO and adds Leo Burnett to creative roster

Tony Phillips

Tony Phillips

Woolworths has hired former Coles executive Tony Phillips as its chief marketing officer and added Leo Burnett to its creative agency roster in a shake up to its marketing services.

Phillips is a former managing director of George Patterson Y&R Melbourne, handling clients like Carlton United and National Australia Bank, he is also founder and managing director of AdTown.

He  joins Woolworths from Coles where he has spent the previous seven years in the roles of general manager, marketing communications, general manager sponsorships and events and general manager.

It is understood Droga5 will remain on the agency roster, but its contract as lead agency expires on May 1, with managing director of Australian supermarkets Tjeerd Jegen saying in a statement: “We’re very excited to be adding one of Australia’s premier creative agencies to our roster and I believe this addition will help us stay ahead of the pack in what is a very competitive market.

“I’d like to sincerely thank Droga5 for their work over the past two years. The successful More Savings Every Day campaigns have shown they were the right choice and now we move into a new era. The addition of Leo Burnett will be a great fit for Woolworths.

“With a new marketing team of Tony and Jess, combined with a new creative agency in the roster in Leo Burnett, I know we will further strengthen our position as Australia’s leading supermarket.”

For the last year there has been speculation in the supermarket giant might part ways with Droga5, with DDB strongly linked to the account at one time. An announcement about the roster workings will be made closer to the May date by the supermarket.

The chief marketing officer role is a new operational role at Woolworths and is part of a restructure with Jess Gill appointed to a new strategic role of director, customer experience. Gill had been appointed to lead the marketing team as general manager last September as part of a reshuffle of the marketing department.

Droga5 introduced a new brand campaign for Woolworths in June 2012 retaining the fresh food people tagline, however there has been a notable absence of above the line brand campaigns from the business in recent months, with recent executions focussing on Everyday Rewards and product promotions.

CEO of Leo Burnett Australia Todd Sampson said, “Tjeerd, Jess and Tony have huge ambitions for Woolworth’s and it’s now our job to help bring them to life. I can’t wait to get started.”

The appointment comes in the middle of a major media pitch for the $240m account with agencies Carat, OMD, Starcom and Mediacom all facing off. 

Nic Christensen and Alex Hayes 


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