Pepsi raids Tesco for public affairs head supremo

PepsiCo has beefed up its UK corporate affairs team as part of a plan to build a reputation as a responsible business.

The food and drinks empire has poached Andrew Smith from Tesco, where he was government affairs manager,  and will start at PepsiCo in July as head of public affairs.

Nicki Lyons has also just joined as head of media from the Food Standards Agency, where she was senior press officer. Both positions are believed to be new to PepsiCo. They report into director of corporate affairs Steve John.

John told PRWeek: ‘Many people don’t know about the breadth of the PepsiCo products or the extent of our work.

‘The company is continuously transforming its portfolio to meet customer need, and is making some strong progress on environmental sustainability. Our role is to ensure our progress and ambition is eff­ectively communicated.’

The move comes following increased pressure on food and drink companies to be more socially responsible, including the tightening of legislation on advertising ‘junk food’ to children.

PepsiCo wants more attention given to the fact that it has reduced saturated fat by 70 per cent and salt by 25 per cent in its Walkers crisps range.

It also wants to stress that it is no longer promoting its full sugar variant of Pepsi, instead putting all ad spend into Pepsi Max.

In April it set up a PepsiCo advisory board in the UK, which covers nutrition as part of its remit. Prime Minister Tony Blair’s ex-polling and image expert Philip Gould, and former health secretary Alan Milburn are both on the board.

Most of PepsiCo’s PR work is outsourced to agencies. PepsiCo retains Freud Communications for corporate and media relations support and uses Edelman Public Affairs on the public affairs side.

PepsiCo has an annual revenue of over $35bn – with 17 billion dollar brands. In the UK, one of its largest markets, its main brands are Tropicana, Quaker, Pepsi, Walkers, 7UP and PJs Smoothies.

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