Strategy’s most read of 2018: C-Suite

Here are the stories that caught the eye of senior marketers this year.


It’s that time of year, when strategy runs down the list of stories our readers were most interested in over the previous year as a way to look back at the trends that shaped the industry. Once you’re done, read up on the most read stories from the Strategy Tech newsletter, our coverage of the lead-up to cannabis legalization and this year’s Olympic campaigns. Check back in the days ahead to see the rest of the news that turned heads in 2018.

Pizza Pizza goes beyond promos with new VP of marketing

AHugginsftdPat Finelli was not only someone with more than 20 years of experience in marketing leadership roles with Pizza Pizza, he was also the public face of the company, appearing as a spokesperson in the media and frequently serving as the voice of its ads. When the CMO left at the beginning of 2018, the QSR went agency-side to find its new marketing leadership, hiring Cossette veteran Alyssa Huggins (pictured left) as its new VP of marketing. Since joining, Huggins has picked a new media AOR, launched its first major holiday push in years and found ways to inject more emotional connections into Pizza Pizza’s creative, while still maintaining its roots in deals and promotions.

Tim Hortons’ new CMO outlines his coffee-centric approach

AxelIt might have seemed outlandish to imagine that Tim Hortons’ relationship with Canadians could ever become strained, but that’s what happened after the QSR spent the latter half of 2017 and most of 2018 in public disputes with its franchisees over costs associated with bringing on new products, store renovations and the allocation of marketing dollars. Axel Schwan (pictured right) joined the embattled QSR as its new global CMO this year from fellow RBI brand Burger King, which had seen a number of accolades under his tenure, including Creative Marketer of the Year at Cannes. After his appointment, Schwan spoke with strategy about the importance of community for Tim Hortons, but also how he wants to build marketing that speaks to the quality of its coffee and products.

Tammy Sadinsky heads to Walmart Canada

Part of the reason Tim Hortons had an opening in its marketing leadership is that its previous CMO, Tammy Sadinsky, had been hired by Walmart Canada in March. Sadinsky’s hiring in the role of VP of marketing communications also signalled a change in the way the retailer organized its marketing leadership: Sadinsky now works alongside Byron Ells, head of digital marketing, and Jennifer Stahlke, VP of customer marketing, to lead efforts in the Canadian market.

48North and the opportunity in cannabis

At the beginning of 2018, many companies were investing a great deal into building recreational cannabis brands in a young industry where consumer insights were still relatively under-developed. Speaking at this year’s Marketing Evolution: C-Suite Summit, Allison Gordon (pictured, top), CEO of licensed cannabis producer 48North, covered what they did know about cannabis consumers, how to best utilize those insights in the lead up to October 17 and, most importantly, why building a strong brand would be vital to success in the industry.

Scotiabank gets Toronto familiar with its new arena

Scotiabank-featured2Ask someone from Rogers how hard it is to get Torontonians to refer to its sports venue by a new name (many still think of it as the “SkyDome”). That’s the challenge Scotiabank faced this summer in the lead-up to the hockey and basketball season that would see the first games played at the Scotiabank Arena after almost 20 years of the Air Canada Centre. John Doig, EVP and CMO at Scotiabank, spoke not only about why the naming rights to the arena were so valuable to the bank, but its plans on how to best take advantage of the sponsorship and get the new name to stick with sports fans.