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After almost a decade in communications leadership roles with subsidiary Wrigley, Andy Pharoah was promoted to take leadership of the corporate affairs function at Mars in the summer of 2016—a role that has always included interesting issues, particularly around health and nutrition and (increasingly) sourcing questions.
At the time, Mars CEO Grant Reid paid tribute to Pharoah’s work at Wrigley: "He has built a high-performing corporate affairs team at Wrigley while driving broader initiatives across Mars, particularly within our sustainability and health and wellbeing agendas. Andy is a well-respected collaborator and leader among his peers."
Shortly after his promotion, Skittles found itself in spotlight after Donald Trump Jr. compared Syrian refugees to a bowl of the candy. The brand's response — praised for its humanity against such a callous analogy — is among Pharoah's notable achievements in the last year.
"Mars continues to standup publicly and respectfully for what we believe on the threat for climate change and the need for action," Pharoah noted.
Before joining the chewing gum giant in 2008, he spent 13 years with Hill+Knowlton, where he worked with a wide range of companies, governments and NGOs, as head of the corporate practice for Europe, Middle East and Africa. His early career was spent working in UK politics.
Can you share a moment in your career that you recognized PR's direct impact on business performance?
For me it was seeing the power of great crisis management preserving a business model under attack.
What are the industry's biggest challenges and opportunities?
For companies and brands the age of control is over. The two-way dialogue companies need to drive and the imperative of consumer brand relevance means you can no longer choose where or when to engage. For most that is unchartered territory.
Secondly the general benign to positive political environment that companies have operated in for decades is no longer a given. Companies will need to stand up and be counted on the issues that matter. that can create cut-through but also risk controversy as it is impossible to please all of the people all of the time.
How do you handle the unexpected?
By putting our values and principles first and trusting our judgement. If it feels right it probably is.
How do you relax?
Music, watching sport, food & wine and spending time with those I love.
Book/movie/TV show/podcast that teaches a valuable lesson about PR?
No idea if they tell a message but I love the films of Richard Curtis.
If I wasn't working in marketing/communications, I would be...
Well, originally I wanted to be a vet, then a teacher and my job was in politics...
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