In Brief: Former Kraft Heinz CMO joins Kawartha Dairy

Plus, Arrivals + Departures invests in its independence and Engine adds to strategy and design teams.

Kawartha Dairy hires its first VP of marketing

Premium ice cream brand Kawartha Dairy has hired Dana Somerville as its first VP of marketing and consumer experience.

Beginning in her new role on May 3, Somerville has been tasked to “foster, protect and grow” Kawartha’s premium small town brand, a company spokesperson told strategy in an email, as well lead efforts for its 10 retail stores across Ontario.

Somerville most recently spent nearly 24 years at Kraft Heinz, moving through progressive marketing roles until becoming CMO in 2019 and, later, chief growth and sustainability officer. She left the company last year following a restructuring at Kraft Heinz. Her new job is also a reunion with Brian Kerr, who preceded Somerville as CMO at Kraft Heinz Canada and joined Kawartha Dairy as CEO and general manager in 2018.

Arrivals + Departures’ partners buy majority stake in the agency

In order to help ensure it can stay independent, Arrivals + Departures has a new ownership structure that has its three partners buying a controlling stake from the agency’s founder.

Arrivals + Departures was created in 2016 after the long-speculated merger between Toronto agency Blammo and Halifax-based Extreme Group was finalized.

The agency’s three operating partners – Toronto president Mike Bevacqua, Halifax president and chief strategist Martin Delaney and chief financial and operating officer Daniel Tolensky – have now acquired a majority of the agency’s shareholdings from Paul LeBlanc. Though LeBlanc has maintained his controlling interest since founding Extreme in 1997, he has not had an active hand in its operations since 2012, when he transitioned out to focus on other entrepreneurial endeavours.

LeBlanc said he was “deeply proud” of what the leadership team has accomplished since then, and Bevacqua said there are “huge opportunities” for independent agencies in Canada.

“We also believe that clients are recognizing the agencies that have their best interests at the core versus those who are beholden to ratios and margins to appease their shareholders,” he said. “With our structure we are able to focus on the long-term and it’s a great feeling to know that we control our own destiny.”

Engine Digital hires three

In response to growing business and demand, Engine Digital has made additions to its strategy and design teams.

Leading the hires is strategy director Laura Falconer, who will lead brand experience, ecommerce and product design engagements at Engine, drawing from experience in UX-focused roles at Magnetic North and Vision Critical. She is also the founder of ecommerce-focused cannabis lifestyle brand Leaff.

Also joining the strategy department is Connie Huang as intermediate UX strategist, who was previously an experience designer at New York’s Brightspot Strategy in New York City.

Engine has also hired Miquel Pons as associate design director, bringing experience as lead product designer at consulting firm Versett. Pons joins a design team led by Mike Kingsborough, he was hired in November as design director.

The hires come amid increased demand at the agency, with new clients including Unilever air purification brand Blueair, as well as ongoing and expanded work with HP, the NBA and global consulting firm Prophet.