In this edition of Marketer of the Week, Ignite Visibility spotlights Rachel Ferdinando, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Frito-Lay North America.
Ignite Visibility applauds Rachel Ferdinando for her ability to transcend traditional marketing barriers and lead her brand with fresh and innovative ideas.
Rachel Ferdinando, the Creative
If you’re looking for a ground-breaking marketer, Frito-Lay’s Rachel Ferdinando is it! Since joining Frito-Lay in 2017, Ferdinando has seen great personal and professional success.
In 2019, she won the Creativity Award for Brand Marketer of the Year by Ad Age magazine. She received this award for her ability to create an impeccable brand identity. Her award-winning Doritos Blaze Super Bowl campaign led to the most successful Frito-Lay launch in five years.
That same year, she led another Super Bowl campaign for the popular chip brand, Tostitos. In this campaign, fans created their own customized party invitations modeled after Super Bowl ads.
If those two campaigns weren’t enough, Ferdinando was also the brains behind a wildly successful Cheetos campaign. In this campaign, an AI-power camera turned everything into Cheetos.
In addition to those profitable ad campaigns, she also was at the helm of The Flamin’ Hot Spot, a pop-up eatery that promoted Flamin’ Hot Cheetos through menu items inspired by the popular snack.
Ferdinando’s Award-Winning Work at Frito-Lay North America
Her 2019 award from Ad Age magazine was just the beginning for Ferdinando. She would go on to win many other awards during her career at PepsiCo and Frito-Lay North America.
In January of 2020, she won a variety of awards including the Women in Business Award from the Dallas Business Journal, Marketer of the Year by The Drum, and Campaign US’s Female Frontier Awards: Breaking Brand Barriers. She was also a Finalist in PR Week’s Outstanding Marketer of the Year.
She started racking up the awards again in June 2021 when she was named a Most Innovative CMO by Business Insider. Her “Can’t Touch This” Cheetos campaign also won an award from the Cannes Lions International Festival for Creativity that month.
Most recently, in September 2021, she was named as one of Forbes’ World’s Most Influential CMOs for her work at Frito-Lay North America.
Life Before Frito-Lay North America
Ferdinando didn’t always see herself as a marketing genius. In fact, she earned her Bachelor of Science degree, with honors, in chemistry from the Imperial College London.
While still a senior in college, she started working for pharmaceutical giant SmithKline Beecham Corporation as a Territory Business Manager. Ferdinando would remain at the company for almost four years, working her way up the ladder to being named a Senior Key Account Manager on National Accounts.
Once SmithKline Beecham Corporation became GlaskoSmithKline, or GSK, Ferdinando started to travel the world with her company, working in a variety of roles including, Brand Manager, Innovation Manager, Innovation Director, Vice President, and Vice President & Global Business Leader. Her work with GSK lasted almost 16 years and took her from London to New York City.
Ferdinando ended her career with GSK in 2015 as a Vice President and General Manager of Malaysia & Brunei.
After leaving GSK, Ferdinando moved to Dallas, Texas for an opportunity as the Global Sector Leader of Family Care for Kimberly-Clark.
During her two years at Kimberly-Clark, she was responsible for driving the profit growth of a $6.5 billion dollar portfolio of Family Care brands, including Kleenex, Scott, and Cottonelle.
After using her knowledge of native advertising at Kimberly-Clark, Ferdinando moved on to become a Vice President of Marketing Core Brands, Media & Digital for PepsiCo.
Ferdinando Climbs the Corporate Ladder
When she joined PepsiCo. and Frito-Lay North America in September 2017, Ferdinando became responsible for driving market share, revenue, and profit growth for the $5.6 billion dollar snack-food portfolio. Included in her responsibilities were household-name brands such as Doritos, Cheetos, and Tostitos.
It wasn’t long before Ferdinando was on the move again. This time, up Frito-Lay North America’s corporate ladder. In March 2019, she became the Senior Vice President Core Brands, Media, Portfolio & Partnerships.
After working in that role for almost three and a half years, she moved to her current position as the Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Frito-Lay North America.
Here she is responsible for all marketing initiatives for the entire Frito-Lay North America brand. This division of PepsiCo is worth $16 billion dollars a year.
Every day, Ferdinando gets to work with brands such as Lay’s, Doritos, Cheetos, and SunChips. She also is responsible for Frito-Lay’s Simply line, like Stacy’s Pita Chips. She increases their brand awareness through every marketing avenue, including social media sites like Facebook or Instagram.
Ferdinando’s Advice for New Marketers
In a recent 2022 article by The Drum, Ferdinando offered some solid advice for new marketers. “I want to see more marketers living within the cultural context of their consumers. The ability to shape and create culture is vital for any brand…. At Frito-Lay, we spend a lot of time understanding what is culturally happening for our consumers and showing up in a way that pushes purpose forward and creates impact.”
Ferdinando has been so successful in her career because so much of her work is focused on the value of consumer-centricity. She truly wants to create a brand that is helping the world by participating in events and causes that are important to her target audience.
Ferdinando’s biggest advice? “Bring your authentic self to everything you do.” Regardless of your field or industry, as long as you stay true to yourself, focus on your audience, and stay dialed in to what is happening around you, you will create engaging marketing campaigns that people will love.
Ferdinando is the Future of Marketing
When you look at Ferdinando’s long list of achievements, it can be hard to deny that she is responsible for the marketing success at Frito-Lay North America. As long as she keeps user experience at the center of her campaigns, Fernando will continue to grow her brand.
I am not sure how she will top herself at the 2023 Super Bowl but I am looking forward to seeing what Rachel Ferdinando does next!