Syl Saller, Diageo

Syl Saller has been appointed Diageo’s chief marketing officer.

Diageo has announced another reshuffle of its top table, less than a month after revealing CEO Paul Walsh was to retire.

The drinks company has appointed global innovation director Syl Saller chief marketing officer and member of the executive committee, replacing Andy Fennell, who moves to head up the brand’s African business. Both execs will take up their positions on 1 July.

The company’s interim management statement for the nine months to 31 March 2013 showed organic net sales growth in Africa, Eastern Europe and Turkey rose 9%, driven by the continued growth of spirits in Africa. This was ahead of Western Europe, Asia Pacific and North America on 6%, and beaten only by Latin America and the Caribbean on 14%.

The brand also announced it is switching creative agencies on its global Smirnoff vodka brand.

Diageo’s global category director for vodka, rum and gin, Edward Pilkington, said that although the brand had enjoyed a successful relationship with its agency of 13 years, JWT, it was time “to refresh the thinking on Smirnoff in order to align with our bold future vision for the brand”.

He said that during the period, the Smirnoff brand had grown into the largest premium spirit brand in the world, from 15.1m cases to 26.3m cases.

Net sales of Smirnoff fell in the UK in the first six months of this year (to 31 Jan 2013), which the company attributed to “a number of external economic factors”, although this was offset by a 0.2ppts value share gain.