Denise Donohue
Denise Donohue

Denise Donohue has left the Michigan Apple Committee to start a marketing services business.

Donohue’s last day as executive director at the Lansing, Mich.-based committee was Feb. 28.

“I’m excited about it,” she said March 1. “I think there is an opportunity.”

With nearly nine years at the committee, Donohue said she plans to use her marketing skills to help produce and grocery companies establish brands at retail stores. Donohue and her husband, William Donohue, a Michigan State University communication professor, started the DeWitt, Mich.-based business called the Donohue Group.

Diane Smith, a 16-year veteran of the committee, has been named interim director of the committee, according to Al Dietrich, owner of Dietrich Orchards, Conklin, Mich., and member of the executive council for the committee.

“I think the entire staff is excited about the challenge ahead of us and we are meeting it head-on,” Smith said.

Dietrich said Donohue will be missed for her efforts on behalf of the committee. He said the “Pure Michigan” promotion program was particularly successful, with comedian Tim Allen’s voice used in in-store advertising aiding consumer awareness and sales.

Dietrich said Donohue has helped introduced premium display cartons for Michigan Honeycrisp apples, and she set up in-store advertising at Wal-Mart locations. Donohue has also helped direct resources to research needs, he said.

The Michigan Apple Committee board will decide in March about plans to fill the position, Dietrich said.

Donohue said very few advertising, graphics or public relations firms have a solid grasp on how to promote agricultural products through the distribution system.

“Ultimately, success in the food and produce marketplace — especially where budgets are lean — requires blending a data-driven market position with attractive brand identification, solid trade promotion, retail activation and public relations including social media,” Donohue said in a news release. “Produce and food sellers must create simple, appealing promotions that will carry through the distribution system and speak to the consumer.”

Donohue said she can be reached at, and