Snap, as part of rebuilding its senior exec team and angling to boost growth, has hired its first chief marketing officer: Kenny Mitchell, a consumer-marketing veteran who has worked at McDonald’s, Gatorade, NBC Sports Group and NASCAR.
Mitchell will join the company in June 2019, reporting to CEO and cofounder Evan Spiegel. Mitchell will lead all consumer and product marketing programs at Snap, which has struggled over the past year to grow its user base. While he is Snap’s first CMO, he assumes duties that were previously the purview of former VP of marketing Steve LaBella, who exited the social messaging and media company last fall.
“Kenny’s consumer marketing expertise and his deep understanding of our products will be a great combination for Snap,” Spiegel said in announcing his hire. “Throughout his career, Kenny has demonstrated his ability to successfully execute innovative, global marketing campaigns, many of which have leveraged our own vertical video and augmented reality products.”
In an memo to staff in October, Spiegel outlined the need for better marketing and communications — and acknowledged missteps with Snapchat’s widely criticized app redesign in 2018. “We rushed our redesign, solving one problem but creating many others,” the CEO wrote in the memo. “The biggest mistake we made with our redesign was compromising our core product value of being the fastest way to communicate.”
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Mitchell’s hire comes after a string of high-level departures from Snap’s senior management ranks in the past year. In addition to LaBella, those include chief strategy officer Imran Khan, chief content officer Nick Bell, head of ad sales Jeff Lucas (now at Verizon Media), and CFO Tim Stone.
In the past six months, Snap has recruited three senior execs: Jeremi Gorman, chief business officer, former head of ad sales at Amazon; Jared Grusd, chief strategy officer, ex-CEO of Huffington Post; and Julie Henderson, chief communications officer, formerly with 21st Century Fox.
Snap last month widely released an overhauled version of its Android app, which it hopes will drive up active users. In the first quarter of 2019, the company beat Wall Street financial expectations and — for the first time in a year — expanded its user base, netting 4 million daily active users to hit 190 million in the period.
Most recently, Mitchell was VP of brand content and engagement for McDonald’s USA, where he led the fast-food chain’s strategic brand and consumer marketing agenda in the U.S. Prior to joining McDonald’s in early 2018, he was head of consumer engagement at Gatorade, where he led all global integrated consumer marketing efforts and pioneered the use of Snapchat vertical video and augmented reality tools. Those included Gatorade’s viral Gatorade Dunk AR Lens for the Super Bowl and the sports drink’s Serena Williams-themed Snap Ad game, which was played with by Snapchat users for an average of over 200 seconds, according to the company.
Mitchell has also overseen brand and consumer marketing for NASCAR and was VP/GM at the Dew Tour, a division of the NBC Sports Group. Mitchell holds a bachelor of arts degree from Dartmouth College and an MBA from Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business.
Mitchell, in a statement provided by the company, said: “Snap is a great company with strong values, an inspired vision and innovative products that are empowering its global community. I look forward to helping Evan and Snap continue to tell their story to people around the world, and working with my new colleagues as we define the future of the camera and self-expression.”