Industry Promotions and Appointments for June/July

Diageo Tabs Thompson to Succeed McDonough in Chief Marketing Role

Diageo announced today that James Thompson, currently Managing Director of Global Reserve for Diageo, will assume the role of Chief Marketing and Innovation Officer for North America, effective August 1.

He will report to the President of Diageo North America and will be a member of the North America Executive Team.

Thompson’s appointment comes as Peter McDonough, current Chief Marketing and Innovation Officer, has decided to leave Diageo after almost nine years with the business.

During his leadership of Diageo’s Global Reserve business, Thompson built a strengthened commercial foundation and invested behind luxury brand building and innovative marketing platforms at scale, the company says. Prior to this, he spent six years as Chief Marketing Officer, Asia Pacific, where he was also a member of the Asia Pacific Executive team.

Thompson also brings an understanding of the North American market, the company says, having previously served as President, Guinness Canada; Senior Vice President, Priority Brands, Diageo North America; and President, Global Marketing, Vodka, Rum and Ready-to-Drink categories.


His successor will be the subject of a further announcement.

Commenting on McDonough’s departure, Syl Saller, Chief Marketing Officer for Diageo, said; “Under Peter’s leadership, Diageo has transformed the North America innovation business into a significant contributor of growth, consistently leading in annual revenue growth for new product introductions in IRI/Nielsen. He has also driven significant shifts in how we engage consumers to build sustainable brand franchises and world-class marketing programmes. We will miss him tremendously.”

Heineken Hires Lasada From Coca-Cola for VP Position

Bridget Lasda Headshot

Heineken USA has hired Bridget Lasda, former vice president of sales for the Coca-Cola Company, as vice president of National Accounts. Lasda joined the Company on July 27.

Lasda had been with Coca-Cola for 13 years, most recently as head of the Target account. Previously, she held leadership roles in operations, sales and category development, serving as vice president of Category Commercialization for Coca-Cola’s Water, Tea, Coffee and Venturing & Emerging brands.

Lasda earned her undergraduate degree at Pennsylvania State University and completed her MBA from Emory University.  She is a volunteer with The Special Olympics and the Boys & Girls Club, and she was president of Coca-Cola’s women’s business resource group.

Diageo Selects its Next North American President

Diageo has announced that Deirdre Mahlan (pictured above), currently Chief Financial Officer, will be appointed President of Diageo North America.

This follows the announcement that Larry Schwartz, current North America President, would retire by the end of this calendar year.

Deirdre’s replacement will be announced in due course and until that time she will continue in her current role as CFO of Diageo, the company said.

“Deirdre has been an exceptional CFO and has the skills, together with experience of the market, to lead the next stage of growth in North America,” said Ivan Menezes, Diageo Chief Executive.

Bacardi Creates Marketing Centers of Excellence, Sees Change in Marketing Leadership

Bacardi Limited has announced plans to bring the company’s brand strategies closer to its markets and making them even more relevant to its consumers, according to a press release.

The company plans to establish Centers of Excellence (“CoEs”) in Europe and North America. Each will be headed by a chief marketing officer, who will report to Bacardi Limited Chief Executive Officer Mike Dolan on the company’s global brands and to those regional presidents on regional and local brands, and in region marketing executions.

Those CoEs will create assets and partner with a more agile corporate creative excellence team, the company’s external agencies, hubs and markets in ensuring those assets are executed in locally relevant ways.

“Several months ago we consolidated our creative and media activity with BBDO and OMD,” said CEO Mike Dolan. “In addition, we are in the process of doing the same thing with our below the line spend. With these changes, we will be able to adapt our focus to our brands, not categories, and position ourselves to fully leverage the benefits of having world class global agency and media partners.”

The Company’s new Centers of Excellence will be headed by: Mauricio Vergara, CMO North America and global lead for Bacardi and Grey Goose, based in Hamilton, Bermuda; and Shane Hoyne, CMO Europe and global lead for Martini, Dewar’s, William Lawson’s and Bombay, based in London, United Kingdom.

The company’s ready-to-drink (RTD) and tequila brands continue being led from Shanghai and Mexico respectively and brand leaders will be named shortly.

In addition, in order to better manage the company’s global agency relationships, Zara Mirza takes up the role of Head of Creative Excellence. Zara will be responsible for the central creation and delivery of integrated communications ideas/platforms across the company’s core brands and, ensuring their adaption in all key markets, the company says, rooting them in popular culture, keeping them highly relevant to their audiences and unlocking growth for the business

Zara will be based in London and will report directly to Dolan. Since joining the Company last year, she served as Global Communications Director for Bacardi rum where she has been developing the next iteration of Bacardi “Untameable Since 1862.”

Zara brings more than 15 years of experience with global brands across premium spirits, luxury goods and fast-moving consumer goods categories. She brings a great understanding of how to best leverage a global agency relationship having served as a Partner and Strategic Business Lead at Bartle Bogle Hegarty (BBH) working on accounts such as Google, The Guardian, Johnnie Walker, ITV and Lynx. While on the agency side, she contributed to the development of brand ideas and integrated communications campaigns.

As a result of these changes, Global Chief Marketing Officer Dima Ivanov has decided to leave the company. He will work closely with Dolan to ensure a smooth transition as the company implements this new way of doing business, the company says.

Arent Fox Adds Carrol to Alcohol Beverage Team

Arent Fox LLP has announced the addition of San Francisco-based labor partner Rob Carrol to the firm’s Labor & Employment practice and newly launched Alcohol Beverage team.

Carrol’s labor practice services businesses of all sizes, the company says, from Fortune 200 companies to Silicon Valley startups, in the agriculture, food, manufacturing, and solid waste disposal sectors. In. Carrol’s global alcohol beverage practice, he represents wine, craft beer, and spirits producers, importers, and distributors.

“Rob is a key name in the alcohol beverage industry and will be a great resource to suppliers, distributors, and retailers located in the heart of California’s wine and craft beer industries and beyond,” said California Managing Partner Robert C. O’Brien.

Carrol was previously the chair of Nixon Peabody’s Western US Labor and Employment and Global Beverage Alcohol teams.

Diageo NA Executive named President of Johnson Brothers

Johnson Brothers (JBLC) — a Minnesota based Wine, Beer, and Spirits Distributor — has announced the appointment of Mark Hubler as its president. Hubker will report directly to Michael Johnson, CEO and Todd Johnson, COO.

Hubler has held positions of executive management with Coca Cola Enterprises, Quaker Beverages (Gatorade/Snapple) and most recently as president of US Spirits & Wine-Open States & National Accounts for Diageo North America.

As Mark begins his time at Johnsons Brothers, he will be asked to oversee the company’s business development and strategic plan, as well as advancing JBLC’s leadership and talent development programs.

Johnson Brothers is one of the largest Wine and Spirits Distributors in the U.S., the company says, with over 2,200 employees and operations in Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Indiana, Rhode Island, New York, North Carolina, Alabama, Florida, Nevada, Hawaii, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New Mexico, and Washington.

Lohr Vineyards & Wines Brings in Barnhisel for White Wines

Lohr Vineyards & Wines has named Kristen Barnhisel winemaker for white wine, joining a veteran winemaking team that includes Red Winemaker Steve Peck and longtime Director of Winemaking, President/COO Jeff Meier, who will continue to ensure the stylistic continuity of all J. Lohr wines.

After studying biology and Italian literature at UC San Diego, Barnhisel became one of the first women, and first Americans, to work harvest season for Ruffino in Italy. Building on this experience, Barnhisel went on to earn a master’s degree in enology from UC Davis, before joining Washington State’s Columbia Crest as enologist.

Following positions as assistant winemaker at Jordan Vineyard & Winery and Belvedere Winery, Barnhisel joined Handley Cellars in Anderson Valley, Mendocino County in 2004, where she was co-winemaker with Milla Handley until 2012.

Most recently, Barnhisel was the quality control manager at Inglenook, where she was charged with ensuring wine quality of the Rubicon, Inglenook’s flagship Cabernet Sauvignon, and the Blancaneaux, the winery’s top white wine. In addition to her new role as winemaker, white wine, for J. Lohr, Barnhisel serves as a director for the American Society of Viticulture and Enology.

Ruch Moves from Red Robin to MarkeTeam

MarkeTeam Inc. — an agency for the food, beverage and hospitality industries — has announced that restaurant and hospitality professional Donna Ruch has joined the agency as manager of premier accounts, based in Dallas.

Ruch’s primary responsibilities will be maintaining high level relationships with existing restaurant clients (fast casual and casual dining), expanding MarkeTeam’s relationships in the region as well as mixology services to all clients.

Ruch joins MarkeTeam following several ventures with leading restaurant and hospitality companies including Red Robin, Houlihan’s Restaurant Group, Universal Studios Orlando and TGI Fridays.

At Red Robin, Ruch was master mixologist and the creative force behind the brand’s beverage program. She expanded Red Robin’s bar program with innovative drinks and an award-winning beer program. Prior to Red Robin, Ruch oversaw beverage menu development and implementation at TGI Fridays and also helped create profitable cocktails for the casual dining restaurant chain.


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