New direction, new handle

The name is gone, but the influence - not to mention the man, himself - remains. After more than 40 years of having the name Wunderman eponymously associated with that of the organization - most recently as Wunderman Cato Johnson -...

The name is gone, but the influence – not to mention the man, himself – remains.

After more than 40 years of having the name Wunderman eponymously associated with that of the organization – most recently as Wunderman Cato Johnson – the global direct marketing agency has renamed itself in a bid to better reflect new service offerings and research and development capability.

Trish Wheaton, managing director of the Toronto office of the newly named Impiric, admits the change is heavy with significance – especially considering founder Lester Wunderman is still actively involved at Impiric’s headquarters in New York.

‘I’ve known Lester for years, and I had a very interesting moment with him recently,’ Wheaton recounts. ‘I looked at him and said, ‘So, are you really OK with this?’ And he just looked me in the eye and said he was more energized about this company now than when he founded it, and it’s exactly what we should be doing.

‘We’ve all been very sensitive about the man whose name is on the door. It’s a big moment when it comes down.’

Impiric was actually the second name chosen for the company. The first selection was ‘~ology,’ but it was nixed by corporate parent Young & Rubicam before it could be unveiled.

Wheaton insists the name change is not merely cosmetic.

‘It’s significant on several fronts,’ she explains. ‘First of all, changing a name with that much heritage to something totally different certainly is a seismic action, both on the part of this company and how much it resonates in the marketplace. Wunderman has always been the sine qua non of traditional direct marketing. What makes this more significant is that it represents how much this company has changed in the past 20 months.’

Those changes include John Bingle taking over as CEO in summer 1998, and the broadening of the scope of the former WCJ’s capabilities to include customer relationship management, teleservices and sales promotion, along with database marketing and traditional direct marketing services.

‘The market has changed fundamentally, and it’s changed forever,’ Wheaton says. ‘One narrow bandwidth solution doesn’t work for anybody anymore. You have to manage all the different marketing activities and bring them together in a very thoughtful way.

‘The Wunderman name telegraphed traditional, below-the-line direct marketing to current clients and prospective clients so much that it was something – as great as it has been and as proud as we are of it – that we had to change to really get clients to look at us in a new way.’

Lester Wunderman will serve as worldwide director of the Impiric Marketing Lab, a research and development facility concentrating on proprietary solutions in CRM, smart card technology, interactive television and Web-based marketing.

Corner Officer Shifts: Martin Fecko leaves Tangerine

Plus, PointsBet Canada and Thinkific name new marketing leaders as Lole gets a new ecommerce VP.
Corner Office

Martin Fecko departs Tangerine 

After roughly two years of serving as Tangerine’s chief marketing officer, Martin Fecko has a new gig. And this time, the financial services vet will apply his marketing leadership to a new sector, having been named CMO of Dentalcorp.

Fecko will lead the dental network’s end-to-end patient journey, support its overall growth, and work to maximize patient experiences across every touchpoint, the company said in a release.

“Martin’s in-depth expertise in engaging and retaining customers through a digitally enabled experience will be valuable in realizing our vision to be Canada’s most trusted healthcare network,” said Dentalcorp president Guy Amini.

Prior to joining Scotiabank’s digital-only banking brand in late-2019, Fecko was country manager for Intuit Canada and spent 10 years at American Express in consumer and digital marketing.

PointsBet Canada nabs former Bell marketer as it pursues expansion

Dave Rivers has joined PointsBet, an online gaming and sports betting operator, as Canadian VP of marketing.

Rivers joins from Bell, where he was most recently director of brand marketing and sponsorship, responsible for driving the company’s national sponsorship strategy and portfolio. He will report to PointsBet Canada chief commercial officer Nic Sulsky.

According to Sulsky, Rivers will “play a key role as we prepare to launch a business that is unique to our roots here in Canada.”

PointsBet has a significant presence in Australia, where it was founded, and in the U.S. In July, it named Scott Vanderwel, a former SVP at Rogers, as CEO of its Canadian subsidiary, one of several hires aimed at establishing the company’s presence locally.

Thinkific names first CMO among other executive appointments

Vancouver’s Thinkific, a platform for creating, marketing and selling online courses, has appointed Henk Campher as its first chief marketing officer as it invests in marketing to support its growth plans. It has also upped Chris McGuire to the role of chief technology officer and moved former CTO and co-founder Matt Payne into the new role of SVP of innovation.

Co-founder and CEO Greg Smith said Campher and McGuire “will play key roles building high-functioning teams around them and optimizing investment as we continue to carve out an increasingly prominent and differentiated position in the global market.”

Campher joins from Hootsuite, where he was VP of corporate marketing. Before that, he was VP of brand and communications at CRM giant Salesforce.

Lolë names new VP of digital omni-commerce as parent company exits bankruptcy protection

The Montreal-based athletic apparel and accessories retailer has appointed Rob French as VP of digital omni-commerce.

French will lead Lolë’s efforts in consumer insights, supply chain-to-consumer models and online customer journeys. In what is a new role for the company, he will also work to grow the company’s retail brand. He arrives with sixteen years experience in ecommerce, having spent the last few years as chief digital commerce officer at sporting goods retailer Decathlon.

In May 2020, Lolë parent Coalision Inc. filed for bankruptcy protection, citing several years of losses as a result of a downturn in the retail clothing market, increased competition and excess inventory – problems exacerbated by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time of the filing, Coalision was seeking an investor or purchaser of its assets.

It successfully exited bankruptcy protection last year and is currently rebuilding its executive team, according to a spokesperson.