Aurora hires new VP of marketing

Gerald Alvoet will help lead a CPG-inspired strategic shift at the cannabis producer.
Gerald 1 - Abramovici Studios

Licensed cannabis producer Aurora has hired Gérald Alvoët to be its new VP of marketing.

Alvoët will lead marketing, branding and category management functions, as well as oversee the strategic direction of Aurora’s brands, as the company moves to a CPG-focused model for its consumer products, a new strategic direction for the producer was implemented when CPG veteran Miguel Martin took over as CEO last fall.

As part of that new vision, Aurora will implement traditional CPG best practices to the sale of cannabis, such as demand planning and leveraging consumer data to identify buying patterns and market trends. This, the company said in a release, will narrow the focus on premium products, as well as emerging formats like vapes, edibles and concentrates.

Alvoët was previously head of marketing for Juul in Canada, helping to build its first marketing department locally. He also brings experience from alcohol marketing, having held senior roles at PMA Canada, Charton Hobbs and Select Wine and Spirits.

Diego Gianelli, who was hired as global VP of marketing in 2019, is no longer with the company, a spokesperson confirmed, but said Alvoët hiring is a net-new senior marketing role to support Aurora’s expanded focus on the CPG model.

Despite signs that cannabis sales have surged at various points since the pandemic began, Aurora and many of the other larger producers in Canada have undertaken cost-cutting measures since last March including layoffs and ending operations at some of their facilities. This has also resulted in departures at the executive level: Aurora’s chief executive Terry Booth left the company in 2020 and was replaced by Martin in September, while marketing leadership has been among the departures at Aphria and Canopy Growth.

This is due both to the impact the pandemic has had on retail stores, as well as restructuring towards profitability after the market settled down following the wave of interest and investment prior to recreational cannabis’ legalization in 2018.

Aurora announced it would cease operations at four manufacturing facilities last year and scale back operations at a fifth, leading to significant layoffs at those sites. That was after taking $1 billion in writedowns and cutting 500 jobs earlier in the year, prior to the pandemic beginning. Last month, it struck a deal with Great North Distributors to handle all sales to retailers across Canada, further streamlining its operations.