PROVIDENCE — Toymaker Hasbro announced this week that their longtime and well-respected CEO, Brian Goldner, died of cancer on Tuesday, just two days after he went on medical leave.
The global, multi-billion dollar company will now be led by Rich Stoddart, a former marketing and advertising executive that has held the role of CEO at numerous brands. Most recently, he was the lead independent director of Hasbro’s Board of Directors. He was named interim chief executive when Goldner announced he was taking medical leave on Oct. 10.
“It has been a privilege to serve Hasbro for the past seven years as a Board member,” Stoddart said in a prepared statement when Goldner announced he was taking medical. “I am humbled to step in as interim CEO and lead the company as it continues to execute the Brand Blueprint strategy... Hasbro has the most creative teams across the consumer products, digital gaming and entertainment businesses, and there’s no limit to what we can accomplish together.”
Stoddart called Goldner the “heart and soul” of Hasbro. He’ll take over the 98-year-old toy company that was re-imagined by Goldner, who transformed it from “just a toy company” to an entertainment business, producing films such as the “Transformers” and “G.I. Joe” franchises.
Goldner signed master toy licenses that would boost the company’s hold on a number of Star Wars, Disney, and Marvel characters. Now Stoddart, who has served on the toy company’s board of directors since 2014, is expected to continue that legacy.
Stoddart brings extensive leadership experience and is known for his expertise in global brand-building, marketing and advertising, and supply chain management. He has served as chief executive officer at InnerWorkings, Inc., where he led the $1.1 billion public, global outsourcing firm with more than 2,000 employees. Prior to 2018, he worked as the chief executive officer for Leo Burnett, the second largest global agency within Publicis Groupe. He was in charge of more than 8,000 employees throughout 92 offices in 85 countries.
From 2001 to March 2005, he was the manager of marketing communications for Ford Motor Company’s US division. He managed a communications budget of more than $750 million with a department of about 20 people. From the mid-1980s to 2001, he had various roles at the Leo Burnett Company and Fallon, a marketing and advertising firm in Minneapolis.
He also served as the chairman of the American Advertising Federation from 2013 to 2015.
Stoddart graduated from Dartmouth College in 1985 with an American government and politics degree. On a recent podcast with K&L Gates LLP’s Craig Budner, Stoddart talked about how he was an “art rat” that was constantly in the studio in high school.
“I had hair past my shoulders. I loved Neil Young. I did a lot of stainless steel welding and I was pretty much an introvert,” he said. He said he was transferred to a different school by his parents in his junior year and started hanging out with the “wrong crowd.” He said he was not excelling and was around people that “got into lots of trouble.” He then transferred to a private school.
By the time he went to Dartmouth, he had helped to found the Women’s Issues League and joined a fraternity. He said it was there that he “found out [he] could lead.” He said in the podcast that he thought he was going to go into law school at one point. But after interning at a law firm in Cleveland, his hometown, and talking to each of the partners, he was discouraged.
“I thought the law was about the little guy. But at this firm, it wasn’t,” he said.
Stoddart went into advertising, which he said he was able to incorporate his love for art and creativity with business.
“No other field, I realized, calls for such a unique combination of business analysis, the study of human behavior and the insatiable desire to be creative and forward-thinking,” he said in a talk at Amherst College in 2014.
Stoddart takes over a company that has reported strong earnings recently, despite retail and supply chain issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. While Hasbro’s stock slipped 1.3 percent after the company’s announced Goldner would be placed on medical leave, Hasbro’s second-quarter earnings came in more than double analysts’ expectations when sales jumped by more than 50 percent from that same time in 2020.