People to Watch 2020: Whitney Arthur
Company: The Coca-Cola Co.
Title: Director, Shopper Marketing – Walmart Team
Education: University of Arkansas (bachelor’s, journalism: advertising and public relations)
Whitney Arthur likes to approach her work with an investigative lens. Her journalism background taught her to not only ask the right questions but be able to express the resulting ideas creatively. It also didn’t hurt that she studied at the University of Arkansas, which is “right in Walmart’s backyard,” she says. Her schooling translated to how she approaches problems or situations and even to how she develops shopper marketing plans. “If you don’t ask the questions, you’ll never understand the implications of your work,” she adds.
As director of shopper marketing for the Walmart team at Coca-Cola, Arthur oversees implementing strategic plans for the total sparkling (SSD) portfolio of Coca-Cola brands at the retailer. She and her team leverage national strategy and direction to create unique, insight-driven, shopper-focused programming aimed at driving sales.
Arthur is well-versed in the Walmart ecosystem and has led Coca-Cola’s connected commerce work with pickup and delivery and in-store programming. She says the goal in these efforts is to win with shoppers, anywhere they see Coke brands. “We must show up in the right places, spaces and times with a relevant message to the Walmart shopper to drive demand and sales through the integration of planning, measurement and partnerships,” she says. “It’s connected all the way across the world-class marketing organization that is Coke.” In other words, speaking in one voice, and ensuring the brands’ national plans are threaded through to its shopper plans in a “cohesive, thoughtful message that maintains the integrity of the brand while capturing the unique needs of the retailer is the ultimate goal,” she adds.
Arthur has, in some way, been connected to Walmart her entire career. She graduated from college on a Saturday and was working full-time for Catapult Marketing by Monday, following a senior-year internship with the agency working across a variety of suppliers dedicated to Walmart. It wasn’t until a former client at Conagra Brands, Lauren Wright, asked her if she’d ever thought about moving over to the client side (after Wright herself had just joined the team at Mondelez International) that Arthur made the switch to CPG.
She went into customer/shopper marketing at Mondelez and then “carried the bag” for a year as a customer business manager for the Sam’s Club cookie/cracker business in sales. “I sharpened skills in negotiation, learned a lot about building a story with data and was able to leverage my background in marketing to tell the ‘story’ – sales is a true art and science,” Arthur says, adding that when the right opportunity came along at Coca-Cola, she was ready to return to shopper marketing.
Her dad taught her about brand ownership long before school or her career ever had the chance. “He was so instrumental in making sure that my personal brand was never taken for granted, and that’s something I carry every day into my professional career.” Additionally, Arthur says Wright’s incredible work ethic and dedication to shopper marketing earned the Mondelez team a “seat at the table” as a critical function to the total business.
And now, she’s working at Coca-Cola under April Carlisle’s leadership at a world-class marketing organization. “How she thinks about different aspects of the business while always tying that back to driving equity for our brand and our retailers is the crux of what we do,” Arthur says. “[Carlisle is] an amazing leader and an amazing person to learn from as well.”