Molson ponders HHCL’s hold on Ex

Molson Canada is expected to make a decision in mid-March on the future of its relationship with HHCL, the agency of record on its Export brand, when the contract for the British ad boutique is due to expire. HHCL was awarded...

Molson Canada is expected to make a decision in mid-March on the future of its relationship with HHCL, the agency of record on its Export brand, when the contract for the British ad boutique is due to expire.

HHCL was awarded a six-month contract to work on Export last October, but sources say Molson has been unhappy with the long-distance relationship, and there is speculation in Canadian agency circles that the brewer may drop the agency and assign Export to another shop.

Molson spokesperson Marilyn McCrea acknowledges the contract with HHCL is nearing its term, but says no decisions have been finalized.

‘(HHCL) was selected before we had a crew in on Export,’ she explains, referring to the recent overhaul of Molson’s marketing department. ‘Whether they were going to be a long-term partner or not was always a question mark, and they knew that going in.’

McCrea admits that Molson may have to stage another review, but says it shouldn’t affect the brewer’s advertising timelines, since it hadn’t planned to launch any new creative on Export until late summer.

‘We did an exhaustive look at agencies last summer, so I don’t think we have to start from square one. But we didn’t have the team in on Export last summer, either,’ she says. ‘Business changes all the time, and whether we would do a full fledged review or not really depends on what the guys feel they need at the time.’

In January, Molson named Michael Downey as its new senior vice-president of marketing, and hired a pair of vice-presidents to oversee its major brands: Rob Guenette was placed in charge of Export, while Brett Marchand was handed responsibility for Canadian.

The assembly of a new marketing team prompted speculation that Molson might rethink its Export assignment. That speculation only intensified last month when former senior vice-president of business development Richard Kelly, who helmed Molson’s last review and was largely responsible for hiring HHCL, left the brewer.

In Brief: The Garden picks CDs to take on daily creative leadership

Plus, Naked names two new leaders of its own and Digital Ethos comes to Canada.

The Garden promotes two creative directors

ACDs Lindsay Eady and Francheska Galloway-Davis have taken over responsibility for day-to-day creative leadership at The Garden after being promoted to creative director roles.

The pair will also help develop the agency’s creative talent, formalizing mentorship and leadership activities they have been doing since joining the agency four and three years ago, respectively. In addition to creating the agency’s internship program, the pair have worked on campaigns for Coinsquare, FitTrack and “The Coke Challenge” campaign for DanceSafe.

Eady and Galloway-Davis will continue to report to The Garden’s co-founder and chief creative officer Shane Ogilvie, who is stepping back from daily creative duties to a more high-level strategic role, allowing him to focus on client relationships and business growth.

Naked Creative Consultancy names new creative and strategy leadership

Toronto’s Naked Creative Consultancy has hired Yasmin Sahni as its new creative director. She is taking over creative leadership from David Kenyon, who has been in the role for 10 years and is moving into a new role as director of strategy, leading the discipline at the agency.

Sahni is coming off of three years as VP and ECD at GTB’s Toronto office, where she managed all the retail, social and service creative for Ford Canada. She previously managed both Vice Media and Vice’s in-house ad agency Virtue.

Peter Shier, president of Naked, says Sahni’s hiring adds to its creative bench and capabilities, as well as a track record of mentorship, a priority for the company. Meanwhile, Kenyon’s move to the strategy side, he says, makes sense because of his deep knowledge of its clients, which have included Ancestry and The Globe and Mail.

Digital Ethos opens a Toronto office

U.K. digital agency Digital Ethos is pursuing new growth opportunities in North America by opening a new office in Toronto.

Though it didn’t disclose them, the agency has begun serving a number of North American clients, and CEO/founder Luke Tobin says the “time was right to invest in a more formal and actual presence in the area.” whose services include design, SEO, pay-per-click, social media, influencer and PR,

This year, the agency’s growth has also allowed it to open an office in Hamburg, Germany, though it also has remote staff working in countries around the world.

Moray Hickes was the company’s first North American hire as VP of sales, tasked with business development in the region.