Boston Beer Taps Former Moet Hennessy Exec as New CMO

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Jon Potter (via LinkedIn)

Boston Beer Company last week named former Moet Hennessy executive Jonathan Potter as its chief marketing officer, a newly created position for the country’s second-largest craft beer producer.

Potter, who will officially join Boston Beer in August, most recently worked as the managing director for Moet Hennessy’s Chandon California division and had previously served as that company’s CMO and executive vice president between 2012 and 2015.

Prior to Moet, Potter spent two years with McKinney Rogers, a global business execution consultancy, and 13 years with Diageo, where he held various roles including CMO of the company’s North America unit.

“I am excited to join the team that will develop and execute the company’s marketing strategies to support its current and future growth,” Potter said via a Boston Beer press release.

This is the first time in Boston Beer’s 32-year history that a dedicated CMO will oversee the planning, development and execution of the company’s marketing and advertising initiatives. Potter will supplant Bob Pagano, who had served as Boston Beer’s vice president of brand development for five years until his departure in March, a company spokeswoman confirmed to Brewbound. Pagano had been responsible for leading marketing and communications for the Samuel Adams, Angry Orchard and Twisted Tea product lines.

Potter, 52, will earn an annual salary of $475,000, according to an SEC filing. He is also eligible for more than $230,000 worth of performance-based bonuses and will receive a $250,000 signing bonus next March. In addition to receiving a restricted stock award valued at approximately $600,000, Potter will also have an opportunity to purchase shares of the company’s Class A common stock, valued at approximately $2.75 million.

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The addition of a full-fledged CMO comes at a time when Boston Beer has struggled to grow amidst challenges from a raft of new craft category entrants who have made it more difficult for the company to maintain shelf and draft placements. During a pair of earnings calls with investors this year, brewery founder and chairman Jim Koch blamed his company’s revenue and depletion declines on increased competition.

“We believe we have lost share, as new craft brewers enter the market and more existing craft brewers are expanding their regional distribution, with the result that drinkers are seeing more choices, including a wave of new beers in all markets,” he said in February.

Greater consumer choice has also led to decreasing brand loyalty, a phenomenon that has forced many alcoholic beverage companies to revisit their marketing tactics. Potter, who spoke at the ‘GrowthBeat’ conference last August, faced similar brand loyalty challenges while trying to market well-known labels like Hennessy, Belvedere, and Veuve Clicquot.

“We drink across a repertoire of brands,” he told the crowd. “It’s really difficult to convert somebody from drinking, say, three drinks out of ten is Moet — which would be fantastic — to drinking six drinks out of ten. So our role is really to get more people into our brands, and to make our brands really salient in our chosen occasions where we want to win.”

Understanding the occasions that drive certain alcoholic purchases influenced Moet’s philosophy of “recruit, recruit, recruit,” Potter said, as the company constantly sought ways to keep consumers drinking across its portfolio.

“We also believe that when you are into the franchise, it is a leaky bucket — I’ve got to recruit you again,” he said. “It puts a lot of pressure on us to keep bringing people into our brands.”

Boston Beer volumes are down 4 percent year-to-date through June 12, according to the most recent report from market research firm IRI Worldwide.