Diageo GB comms boss to leave amid PR restructure

Diageo GB communications director Harriet Wright is to quit in April as the drinks giant's PR department undergoes a major restructure.

Diageo GB - the sales and marketing arm of Diageo Plc - is merging its comms team with external affairs, with the restructuring overseen by corporate affairs director Tony Mair.

Mair was formerly commercial director until he moved to the corporate affairs post last month, a role created as the company seeks to beef up its external affairs work.

Wright has led the 20-strong comms team - which looks after media relations, internal comms and trade/hospitality work - for two years.

Prior to Diageo GB, Wright was internal comms director for United Distillers and Vintners. Before that, she held two corporate affairs roles at British American Tobacco and before that she was a board director at GCI London.

The news of Wright's planned departure comes amid the company's appointment of four additional agencies to its consumer PR roster.

Karen Earl Sponsorship, Aurelia PR, MacLaurin and Borkowski PR have been hired after a pitch process that kicked off last autumn (PRWeek, 25 October).

In addition, negotiations are ongoing with a further undisclosed agency, which is requiring commercial guarantees before quitting an account that has a conflict of interest with Diageo.

Brands PR manager Liz Yonge said the additional agencies had been hired to 'fill capability gaps we had been missing'.

Diageo's two incumbent consumer agencies - Countrywide Porter Novelli and Lexis PR - will continue to be retained.

Also, Diageo continues to retain Leedex Euro RSCG for regional promotional work on Bells whisky and Morgan's Spiced rum.

Yonge confirmed that the agencies would share an annual PR spend of up to £4m, although she stressed budgets for brand-specific promotional programmes were yet to be decided.

Diageo has more than 40 brands in its portfolio, including Baileys, Archers, Guinness, Smirnoff, Johnnie Walker whisky and Pimms.

The rostered agencies could find themselves pitching against each other for contracts, she added.

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