HSBC CMO Leanne Cutts steps down to move into dairy industry

HSBC’s chief marketing officer has left the banking business after four years to join Saputo, the Canadian dairy company behind brands such as Cathedral City, Wensleydale, Country Life, Fry Light and Utterly Butterly, as well as vegan brands Vitalite and Sheese.

Leanne Cutts will become president and chief operating officer of international markets at the business, with her remit to include the UK and European market. Saputo claims to be the largest manufacturer of branded cheese in the UK.

Cutts joined HSBC as CMO in April 2017, based in London. In 2018, the bank repositioned under its ‘Together We Thrive’ campaign, ruffling feathers in early 2019 as one iteration of the campaign was deemed to be ‘anti-Brexit’.

The campaign harnessed the power of the brand’s hexagon logo and brought cohesion and focus to its sub-brands, and also included the introduction of a sonic identity. As a result, HSBC’s Kantar BrandZ brand valuation increased by 15% between 2017 and 2018. The bank also saw a 16% increase in profits before tax in 2018. How HSBC’s ‘Together We Thrive’ positioning turned around a decline in brand value

Before HSBC, Cutts spent five years at confectionary giant Mondelez in a range of senior marketing roles, including president of gum, candy and beverages across Asia, the Middle East and Africa (AMEA), and vice-president of marketing across the Asia Pacific (APAC).

Between May 2013 and December 2016 Cutts was president of manufacturing at Japanese baked goods manufacturer Meito-Adams, and prior to that spent 17 years at pharmaceuticals business GSK in a variety of APAC marketing positions. She started her career in 1992 at FMCG giant Unilever.

“I’d like to take this moment to thank the extraordinary marketing team around the world who’ve made the HSBC brand famous,” Cutts said on LinkedIn.

“You’re my fellow pioneers. You’ve repeatedly identified compelling customer insights, leveraged HSBC’s distinctive (and historic) brand assets, in order to drive business growth. I’m proud of the work we’ve accomplished together to deliver on that purpose.

“The HSBC brand is more compelling than it has ever been. We’ve managed to fuse data and insights and simultaneously pushed out both the efficiency and effectiveness curves.”

Cutts added that brands are “beacons of hope and opportunity”, before stating in a later post that Saputo “resonates with the values I’ve brought to my work”, particularly its commitments to sustainability, diversity and workplace health and safety.

Last summer, as part of Cannes Lions Live, Cutts said she believed the pandemic offered a “real reset moment” for the marketing industry, in terms of ways of working, brand building and engagement with customers.HSBC marketing boss: Coronavirus is a real reset moment for marketing

“We want to have stronger brands, to be useful and relevant to our customers, to foster creativity, deepen customer relationships, contribute to the communities that we serve,” she said. “I want to take this as an opportunity for the marketing community to amplify what they do well, to be helpful and useful and relevant for the communities they serve.”

At HSBC, Cutts said the pandemic had shown how quickly the bank can pivot and work faster than previously thought. She pointed to major changes including the move to staff working from home, implementation of mortgage payment holidays, and phone calls staff have made to vulnerable customers as ways HSBC has reacted quickly to changing customer circumstances.

“We have been able to scale and amplify things in a way we would never have thought possible before,” she said.

HSBC has yet to confirm its plans for replacing Cutts.

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