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

Marketing chocolatey goodness

May 30, 2024

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 University of Richmond in 2012 with degrees in leadership studies and business administration. “I love working for a company whose mission is to bring more moments of goodness to the world.”

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. These products account for some $2.5 billion of the candy giant’s $11 billion in global revenues, he said.

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).

“Much of my time is spent leading cross-functional projects, such as new advertising campaigns,” he said. “A fun part of the job is working with all kinds of people who have a range of skill sets. As a leader, I have a strong vision, but I trust the team. 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 the way the company promoted Jolly Ranchers and Twizzlers. “As a marketer, it’s intrinsically rewarding to go from an idea to the production of 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. I enjoy the competitiveness of doing what is best for our products now, while also stewarding our long-term brand.”

Reflecting on his undergraduate education at University of Richmond, the alum said, “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. I rooted through them and picked out the ones that work for me.”

He went on to earn 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.