Target names new CMO amid management shuffle

Cara Sylvester, a 14-year veteran of the brand, takes on the top marketing gig.

Target names new CMO amid management shuffle

There’s a new top marketer at Target’s helm, and, like her predecessor, she was promoted from within. Today, the Minneapolis-based retailer announced a management shuffle that includes the promotion of Cara Sylvester, a 14-year Target veteran, to the chief marketing officer post.

At the same time, Rick Gomez, who was promoted to CMO four years ago, will now serve as Target’s chief food and beverage officer. Both Gomez and Sylvester are executive VPs with the company.

For the year ended Feb. 1, 2020, Target spent $1.6 billion on worldwide advertising, a 2% portion of its sales, according to Ad Age Datacenter. One of the few retailers to benefit from pandemic-related lockdowns, and the focus on everyday essential products by consumers, Target has seen sales flourish in recent quarters. The holiday season was no exception, when same-store sales grew 17%, inclusive of a digital sales increase of 102%.

Now, Sylvester and Gomez are tasked with continuing that momentum as consumer behavior changes amid COVID-19 vaccine rollouts.

Before her promotion, Sylvester was working as senior VP of home. In recent years, the 1,900-unit chain has poured resources into its private-label collections, many of which have become billion-dollar brands. Several of Target’s owned brands are focused on the home category, including recently launched Project 62, Opalhouse and Hearth & Hand with Magnolia.

Sylvester will be expanding Target’s relatively new loyalty program, Target Circle, which rolled out two years ago under Gomez. Sylvester will also help lead Target’s in-house media company Roundel, which was formerly led by Kristi Argyilan before she left late last year to join rival Bed Bath & Beyond. The search for Argyilan’s replacement is ongoing, according to a Target spokeswoman.

After four years as CMO managing the brand’s marketing turnaround, Gomez’s transfer to lead Target’s food and beverage division validates the retailer’s commitment to the category, which, like home, has been in growth mode with new owned brands such as two-year-old Good & Gather. Prior to joining Target in 2013, Gomez spent two decades in consumer packaged goods at MillerCoors, PepsiCo and Quaker Oats Co. He replaces Stephanie Lundquist, who was president of food and beverage and is leaving the company.

Target also said that it has promoted Christina Hennington to executive VP, chief growth officer from executive VP, chief merchandising officer of hardlines, essentials and capabilities. Jill Sando, formerly chief merchandising officer for style and owned brands, will now fill the chief merchant post for both categories. In addition, Katie Boylan was promoted to executive VP from senior VP; she remains chief communications officer.