Aug 25, 2011 • By

An eye toward the future

Most people are paid to think. Others are paid to think outside the box.

Dom Alcocer is paid to think way, way, way outside the box.

During his six years at General Mills, Dom has been involved in some of the most innovative campaigns in the company’s history.

He started on the Pillsbury holiday cookie team.

Hmm. No holiday in August? No problem. Dom’s team came up with “Back to School Day” and created ready-to-bake cookies with little yellow school buses.

He also was part of the 2008 launch of Progresso Light soup, which rocked the soup industry by creating an entirely new segment – and resulted in sales of more than $100 million its first year.

And in 2009, he helped launch Pancake Nation, a clever website that offers advice – as well as financial assistance – to fundraisers holding pancake breakfasts.

Dom now heads up General Mills’ New Venture marketing team, a position that was created for him. As inventor, marketer and 21st century soothsayer, a large part of his job is thinking 20 years out to consumer trends of the future.

His most recent project launch was, a website with resources to help lead a gluten-free lifestyle. The site was developed in partnership with the University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research, the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center and the General Mills Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition. It serves as a one-stop shop for the gluten-free community with medical information, recipes, resource links and an online store.

Dom says he is often asked why only 30 percent of the products sold on are General Mills products.

“Granted, isn’t the typical, competitive way of marketing,” he says. “But our goal is to create a new solution to consumers’ needs.”

Dom’s unorthodox approach to marketing mirrors his unorthodox career path. He’s a former U.S. Air Force officer responsible for negotiating international radio frequency treaties. “I learned from the military that to get anything done, you need to make do with what you’re given,” he says. “That lesson’s stayed with me, and it’s the mentality I bring to every issue and every challenge I face.”

He’s now heading up a new venture called “Betty Crocker’s Red Spoon Squad,” a cross between the Pampered Chef and Geek Squad for your kitchen. Currently test marketed in Louisville, Ky. and Virginia Beach, Va., the venture makes use of real, live “Bettys” who hold cooking sessions in people’s homes.

The concept is still in the experimental stage, which is precisely where Dom loves to operate. “I absolutely love my job. I operate out of a garage that’s attached to a $15 billion dollar house,” he says with a grin.

Whatever the future holds, you can bet Dom Alcocer will be part of shaping General Mills’ response to it.

“At General Mills, our mission is Nourishing Lives – and all of our strategies ladder up to that mission,” he says. “The way I get there is just a little different.”

Editor’s note: Internet Retailer wrote about and the Red Spoon Squad last week.

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  • Christa

    I absolutely love this idea and can’t say thank you enough Dom for your very hard work and dedication. It puts a big smile on my face and brings joy to my heart. I have Celiac Disease and have always felt like an outcast to the world because of it but after reading this article I don’t feel that way. It’s great to know that there are hard working people who are making a difference. Please keep me informed about the progress of the campaign and if there is an opportunity to be a real live Betty it would be a wonderful blessing and I would love the opportunity to be one. Thank you for all your work. I look forward to seeing the wonderful things to come from all of you. Go team General Mills!

  • Teresa Johnson

    I LOVE “Gluten Freely!” THANKS DOM!!!! It opened up a whole new and tasty way of eating!

  • Sonya

    Please thank the person smart enough to hire Dom Alcocer! AND a big thanks to Dom too!!! I’ve been living gluten free for five years and the info and products offered today as compared to back then are getting better and growing. I was thrilled to find gluten free Bisquick and I love this website! Keep up the good work, guys! The recipes are especially helpful!

  • el ostran

    have teenager with Celiac D. Allways looking for good tasting gluten- free foods!

  • rebecca

    As the mother of a Gluten Free daughter, we appreciate the moves towards gluten free. When we started this in 3rd grade, the products were difficult to find, pricey, and often didn’t taste “normal”. Now that she is a brand new Middle Schooler, there is a greater awareness amongst our peer group. Her BFFs even prefer the Betty Crocker GF brownies!

  • Timothy F O’Donnell

    ”Gen. Mills should do a ‘Gluten Free’ section in food stores. As a stock holder I would like to see Gen. Mills up front, on top, and leading the food industry with this health issue. This is a market that is bigger than anyone thinks. If Gen. Mills makes a big deal out of it, it will become a very big deal that will up profits.
    Timothy F O’Donnell,stocker holder in Gen. Mills

  • Editor

    I just came across the NY Times story about Celiac & Gf foods, which talks about general Mills & Dom’s work in this area. Keep up the good work. It certainly is easier living gf today!

    I’d like to introduce our venture FoodSniffr ( which helps people living with food allergies find safe foods & restaurants. We have launched just this month,give it a spin. Take the tour at to see what FoodSniffr does.

  • Guest

    Dom was a terrific AF officer and an all around great guy.  Good to see he’s succeeding in the civilian world.  Now to tie GPS to GM…hmmm.