Woman of Excellence: Meghan Heltne

Updated: Nov 18

This month, Meghan Heltne, Vice President-Customer Development, was named a winner in the Business Excellence category of the Path to Purchase Institute’s 6th annual Women of Excellence competition. The following is a profile of the qualities and characteristics that earned her the award.

The Mars Agency’s Customer Development team is comprised of just over 100 shopper marketers who are based in the field near the retail customers of our product manufacturer clients. The purpose of this growing team is to help transform client relationships and business performance through key retail accounts such as Walmart, Target and Kroger.


Heltne is based in Minneapolis and leads the Target team. She took on this leadership role in spring 2019, and since then has grown the local team from 7 to 13 people — including new commerce media specialists who will help improve client performance through Target’s growing Roundel media platform. Meghan’s business acumen and passion for identifying and implementing opportunities for brands at this critical retail partner have led clients to increase the level of engagement and services that The Mars Agency provides them — which, in turn, has improved their business results.


Core to Heltne’s success is her desire for, and dedication to, achieving excellence. She is a valued partner to clients in supporting their joint business planning processes and negotiations at Target. She pushes her teams and cross-functional partners to build plans and programs that go beyond JBP commitments and are based on clearly identified opportunities for partnership and growth. She works in collaboration with Roundel to evolve, challenge and improve the platform’s recommendations to the benefit of our clients. She is then tenacious in finding opportunities to align with Target’s merchant team to secure in-store support for these media programs. This has led to the development of several successful programs that the retailer has anniversaried.


“Meghan’s dedication, tenacity and integrity have inspired complete trust from our clients, who now seek her advice and opinion when thinking through how they should conduct business with Target,” said Fern Grant, The Mars Agency’s EVP-Commerce, who nominated Heltne for the award. “And she is equally dedicated to her team. She works tirelessly to mentor and support them, especially with respect to building JBPs and annual plans.”


“Her ability to develop insights-driven marketing platforms that bring both retailer and brand strategies to life while also delighting consumers delivers benefits for everyone involved and makes Meghan a truly worthy recipient of the Business Excellence award," said Diana Haussling, VP-General Manager, Digital Commerce at Colgate-Palmolive, who worked closely with Heltne in her previous role at Campbell Soup Company.


Another reason for Heltne’s success is her relentless forward-thinking. She was one step ahead of Target’s e-commerce growth, working with The Mars Agency’s internal ecommerce team to identify opportunities for clients to improve their digital shelves. But her tireless efforts to find new, creative ways to be successful at Target span all channels and tactics.

In addition to everything she does for clients at Target, Heltne plays a critical role in growing The Mars Agency’s business overall as a member of its leadership team. She recently helped create an integrated approach to developing omnichannel shopper experiences that was instrumental in winning an RFP for a major client.


“Meghan is special because she has only one agenda: business growth,” said Grant. “Everyone — clients, Martians, Target and vendors — want to work with her because of her passion, her focus, and her creative approach to business building.”

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