Magazine article Marketing

Profile: Cereal's Good Guy - Kevin Brennan, Marketing Director, Kellogg

Magazine article Marketing

Profile: Cereal's Good Guy - Kevin Brennan, Marketing Director, Kellogg

Article excerpt

Given some of Kellogg's recent press, Kevin Brennan might easily be perceived as the marketing equivalent of a Bond villain.

Kellogg's marketing director has seen his company denounced as 'socially irresponsible' by Which? and 'cynical' by the National Consumer Council.

It has also been slammed by the Food Standards Agency for its refusal to adopt a traffic-light labelling scheme.

It is not how Brennan, just 18 months into the role after moving from the same job at the cereal company in Australia, wanted to celebrate the firm's centenary. At a time when Kellogg is keen to focus on its heritage as a manufacturer of nutritious food, it has been drawn into the centre of the obesity row. 'Having to respond to interest groups with their own agendas is the worst part of the job,' he says. 'It is a huge distraction from trying to meet consumer needs.'

In the flesh, the 43-year-old is far from the corporate suit vilified by some health campaigners. He is laid-back and personable, and peppers his conversation with jokey asides. He talks passionately about sport - his office is within walking distance of Old Trafford, though he is a lifelong Nottingham Forest fan - and Irish music, which he learned on the guitar as a child and still plays, 'much to the frustration of my wife'.

Phil Lancaster, global business director at ad agency JWT, who has worked with Brennan for five years, sums him up as 'the sort of person you'd want to go for a drink with'.

The Irish connection stems from Brennan's parents, who migrated to Britain before he was born. Raised in Nottingham, he excelled at economics and gravitated toward marketing as it places a premium on analytical qualities.

His career has taken him around the world, with stints in China and Australia - a useful background in an international firm such as Kellogg - but he has now settled in Manchester with his wife, who he met among Nottingham's Irish community, and three young children. 'I'm a Catholic Irish lad,' he adds. 'If I wasn't married, my mother would kill me.'

Brennan admits that he has found his niche at Kellogg. 'A lot of companies will say they believe in brands and advertising, but, in reality, as soon as times are tough, that's the first thing they cut. …

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