Girl Scouts inducts Unilever vet Christine Cea as chief comms executive

The former Unilever comms leader stepped into the role earlier this month and reports to chief marketing and communications officer Lynn Godfrey.

Christine Cea
Christine Cea

NEW YORK: Girl Scouts of the USA has hired Christine Cea, former Unilever comms head, as its chief communications executive.

Cea stepped into the role on April 4. She is reporting to Girl Scouts chief marketing and communications officer Lynn Godfrey. The last person to hold Cea’s role was Kelly Parisi, who departed Girl Scouts last May to head marketing and comms at LeanIn.org.

Overseeing about 20 staffers, Cea is responsible for PR, social media, enterprise communications, and reputation management for Girl Scouts nationally, as well as annual campaigns.

"What attracted me to the role was the intersection of brand purpose and social impact," said Cea, who was a Girl Scout herself. "So being able to raise awareness for the organization and the great work it is doing is an ongoing top-of-the-list objective."

Cea was most recently global consumer practice leader at Porter Novelli. She started work at the Omnicom Group firm last January and departed in November. It was her second stint at Porter; she previously worked in its London and New York offices from 1999 to 2005.

From 2006 to 2014, Cea was senior director of marketing communications at Unilever, where she led brand PR, earned social media, and health and wellness marketing for Unilever’s U.S. portfolio of foods and personal care brands, including Dove, Suave, Lipton, Hellmann’s, and Magnum ice cream.

She also managed marketing for the Unilever brand and the launch of Unilever Project Sunlight, its first consumer marketing initiative fostering its sustainable living mission.

Cea served as chair of judges for the 2013 PRWeek Awards. The following year, she was honorable mention for In-House PR Professional of the Year. Cea was also a mainstay on PRWeek’s Power List during her time at Unilever, ranking number 47 in 2012 and number 37 in 2011.

In February, Girl Scouts of the USA scored a starring role at the Oscars, getting the event’s host, Chris Rock, to help his daughters sell Girl Scout cookies to celebrities during the show.

Last year, Girl Scouts of the USA CEO Anna Maria Chavez explained how the nonprofit is leveraging digital media to stay relevant. It launched the Digital Cookie program nationally in early 2015, helping members sell cookies across the country for the first time outside of their communities. Members get their own customizable website and a mobile app to aid them with sales.

Last year, 160,000 scouts began using the program. However, about a million fewer boxes were sold in 2015 than the year prior. Out of the 194 million boxes sold last year, about 2.5 million were sold online, The New York Times recently reported.

Editor's note: This story was updated on April 15 to correct the level of Girl Scouts reached by Cea.

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