Headshot of Conor Flanagan in front of a Hershey's backdrop

Marketing chocolate goodness

June 14, 2024

Alumni

Hershey’s — the very mention of the iconic name fires up happiness-inducing endorphins. It is one of the things Conor Flanagan loves about his job as senior brand manager at the Pennsylvania-based multinational confectionary company.

“When I tell people where I work, it often triggers smiles,” said Flanagan, who graduated from the University of Richmond in 2012 with degrees in leadership studies and business administration.

He leads the Hershey’s brand team responsible for marketing products that include “Hershey’s” in their names, such as Hershey’s bars, Hershey’s Kisses, Hershey’s Cookies ‘N’ Creme, and Hershey’s Nuggets. He said these products account for some $2.5 billion of the candy giant’s $11 billion in global revenues.

Flanagan oversees the strategy for the brands’ one- and three-year plans, the creative development and placement of ads, brand updates, and seasonal business adjustments (think Hershey’s Christmas bells and Valentine’s Day Cookies ‘N’ Creme hearts).

He spends much of his time leading cross-functional projects, such as new advertising campaigns. He enjoys working with various people with a range of skills sets.

"As a leader, I have a strong vision, but I trust the team," he said. "I give people the chance to use their super powers and want them to feel they are part of a winning solution.”

Flanagan joined Hershey’s in October 2020 as senior manager of commercial strategy. “I was advising teams, making recommendations,” he said. “When I became senior brand manager, my role shifted from recommender to decider. Both roles are important, and both require empathy.”

When he first moved to the marketing department in May 2022 as senior brand manager of sweets, Flanagan reenergized how the company promoted Jolly Ranchers and Twizzlers. “As a marketer, it’s intrinsically rewarding to go from an idea to producing high-quality brand messaging that reaches millions of consumers,” he said.

Now, as senior brand manager of Hershey’s, he does the same thing for the company’s signature chocolate products. “Some of our ads are appetite-focused, reminding people how tasty our products are,” he said. “Others focus on people’s emotional connection to our brands.”

After UR, he earned a Master of Business Administration at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Today, he lives with his wife, Lindsay Hudson Flanagan, a pediatric nurse practitioner and 2014 Jepson School graduate, and their infant son, Graeme, outside Philadelphia. The couple have returned to campus to participate in the Jepson EDGE Institute, the alumni-led professional development program for leadership studies juniors.

His undergraduate education at University of Richmond gave him the tools he needed for success.

“The Robins School of Business gave me confidence and knowledge of the career I was going into. At the Jepson School, I had a front row seat to many leadership styles," he said. "I rooted through them and picked out the ones that work for me.”