40 Under 40 2016: Casey DePalma McCartney

Senior manager of digital engagement and PR, Unilever, 35

From pairing ice cream with high fashion to reimagining the Axe brand, Casey DePalma McCartney has made quite a mark in her five years at Unilever — work she calls her "dream position." She started as marketing communications manager for digital, social, and PR strategy for its food and refreshment brands (including Hellmann’s mayonnaise and Lipton teas). As the senior manager of digital engagement and PR, she still oversees Unilever’s food brands, but also looks after its men’s personal care and deodorant lines.

Before locking down her dream job, she worked at Berns Communication Group, handling professional services PR for such retailers as Saks Fifth Avenue and Li & Fung USA. She then went to Linden Alschuler and Kaplan, where she rose quickly through the ranks. Shifting to consumer PR practice at the comms firm, DePalma McCartney’s clients included tasty carbs, including Hostess Snacks, Drake’s Cakes, and Mueller’s Pasta. She directed grassroots events for Wonder Bread and launched the inaugural social media programs for the brands.

After her leap to Unilever, DePalma McCartney helped launch Magnum Ice Cream in the U.S. by pairing the sweet treat with fashion’s Karl Lagerfeld, who directed three shorts that screened at New York City’s Tribeca Film Festival. The disruptive campaign grew the brand despite the declining premium ice-cream novelty category while positioning Magnum as number one in this market, outselling its competitors.

Last year she championed Unilever’s first-ever food-scale PR program, Agents of Change — a revamp of traditional approaches that targeted the evolving behaviors of millennial dietitians, uniting them with Unilever around a mission to create a healthier future. 

"Casey’s unwavering dedication to crafting our stories and scaling our brands helps our organization touch the lives of billions each and every day," says Kathy O’Brien, VP of skin and marketing services at Unilever. "She is a true partner and a great person."

This year DePalma McCartney has already led the way on Axe’s marketing makeover and relaunch — challenging outdated notions of manhood. The campaign Find Your Magic has recaptured millennials and positioned the brand as a catalyst for social change while sparking a larger cultural conversation about masculinity.

- She was a judge for the inaugural PRWeek Brand Film Festival.

- She’s a dedicated member of Galvanize — a Unilever network committed to a workplace that is supportive of women’s growth, satisfaction, and success.

- Her favorite travel destination is Italy: DePalma McCartney has visited close to 30 Italian cities and towns and hopes to add Lake Como to that list soon.

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