Alison Clark joins the food giant in January as corporate affairs director. She will take charge of a team of seven, overseeing both PR and public affairs in the UK. She will also manage the relationship with Grayling, Mars UK’s retained agency for corporate comms and public affairs for the past 30 years.
Clark started her current role at News International in December 2005. Before that, she was corporate affairs director, responsible for corporate communications and government relations.
Clark will be based in Slough, home of the Mars confectionery business in the UK. She said: ‘I look forward to helping them become recognised as one of Europe’s leading corporate citizens’.
Clark will report into vice-president of corporate affairs in Europe Klaske de Jonge. She replaces Jean Harper, who has been promoted to director for nutrition and sustainability for Mars’ petcare business across Europe.
In common with other confectionery brands, Mars has been forced to respond to the ongoing debate about obesity. The company is currently investing in ‘healthier’ confectionery products and has launched smaller versions of key products to target consumers who are watching what they eat. Mars has also pledged to remove artificial additives from its brands and to stop advertising in magazines and television programmes aimed at children under the age of 12, by the end of the year. It currently has a policy of not targeting children under six.
Mars acted after Ofcom said it would ban junk food advertising during TV shows aimed at under-16s.
In May this year, Mars scrapped plans to include animal products in its chocolate bars. The U-turn came after the firm received 6,000 complaints in one week and 40 MPs signed a petition after the Vegetarian Society campaigned against the move.
Mars UK’s product range includes the well-known chocolate-bar brands Mars, Snickers and Galaxy, but the company also boasts a number of general food brands such as Uncle Ben’s and Dolmio. It also produces Whiskas cat food and Pedigree dog food.