The Really Brief — Week of Feb. 8

Cossette has made three new senior-level additions to its strategy team, all joining the agency from outside Canada.

Max Keane (left in photo) has been hired as head of strategy, joining from Arnold Worldwide in the U.S., where he was senior vice-president and director of brand strategy.

Sohail Bhatia (centre) and Geraldine Tixier (right) have both been hired as senior strategy directors. Bhatia was most recently at Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners in San Francisco, while Tixier has been with DDB Paris for several years.

“I am beyond thrilled to have found these three exceptional strategists, all of whom have a proven track record of creating world-class work and championing effectiveness,” said Cat Wiles, chief strategy officer at Cossette. “The role of strategy has never been more important in helping our clients navigate what’s next. These new hires reinforce Cossette’s commitment to investing in top-tier talent and building cognitively diverse teams to help our clients remain competitive in this new landscape.”

Publicis Media Canada has named Jeff Thibodeau president of PMX Canada. Thibodeau has been with Publicis for over eight years, most recently as SVP of digital and data. Simon Chan has also been hired as senior vice-president of value management, reporting to Thibodeau. Chan previously worked for Publicis as group director at Zenith, but spent the last six years at Rogers.

“We are thrilled to welcome Jeff and Simon to these new roles,” said Publicis Media Canada CEO Alastair Taylor. “Their deep experience and expertise will complement and continue to grow our existing capabilities. We’ve seen great momentum for PMX in the region with our unique model bringing data and research under strategy, and under Simon and Jeff’s leadership, the unit will continue to be a source of resiliency, flexibility and results for our clients.”

Michelle Aboud has been hired as senior vice-president, managing director at McCann Montreal. Aboud was most recently working as a freelance business and brand strategy consultant, but before that spent several years at bleublancrouge, rising to partner and vice-president of account services.

“Michelle’s reputation in the Quebec market is incredibly strong. She’s respected by clients and across all disciplines on the agency side,” said Ryan Timms, president, McCann Canada. “Michelle cares deeply about people and the work they do for clients. She’s not one to preside over things. She wants to be in it, sleeves rolled-up, actively involved in impacting the strategies we construct and the creative work we do.”

Michael Carter and Efram Lebovits have been added to the leadership team at Level5 Strategy. Carter joins as managing partner, bringing 25 years as a C-suite management consultant to the role. Lebovits has been promoted to managing partner from principal, having been with Level5 since 2015.

“Both Michael Carter and Efram Lebovits are performance-driven business leaders and advisors with a proven record of building great companies and brands,” said Ian Madell, president and managing partner at Level5 Strategy. “As entrepreneurial thinkers, they will also contribute to Level5’s growth and development as Canada’s leading boutique consultancy.”

Riverside Natural Foods has chosen Broken Heart Love Affair and its subsidiary Lifelong Crush as its North American agency for the MadeGood brand. BHLA will focus on brand strategy and its first creative campaign, while Lifelong Crush will “bring the campaign to life.”

“Broken Heart Love Affair demonstrated a true understanding of our triple bottom line business and the importance of that to who we are across our product line and at every touchpoint in our organization,” said MadeGood brand manager Milana Kleidman. “At a time when we are expanding both here at home and in the USA, we need to invite consumers to share in our vision.”

Home and auto insurance brand Onlia has partnered with Torstar on what is being described as a long-term integrated campaign that includes custom content, special sponsorships, email marketing and integrated insurance widgets.

The package will include custom content hub on, print ads, and a thought leadership initiative with The Kit around International Women’s Day. There is also a sponsorship tied to Torstar’s “Millennial Money” series.

“From adding our tools to sites like and the community real estate pages, to sponsoring some of the Star’s editorial initiatives and creating custom features—together we’ve come up with value-add content that is both engaging and informative to readers,” said Onlia CEO Pieter Louter.

Onlia will also be recognized as a “preferred insurance partner” in a new Resource Guide on and other Torstar news sites.

In other Torstar news, the company announced this week that it has hired former Dentsu Canada CEO and chief commercial officer Hisham Ghostine, with a stated goal of leading initiatives focused on “media innovation and performance” across its properties.

Torstar said that Ghostine, who has more than 20 years of experience with agencies including Dentsu and Omnicom Media Group, is responsible for developing “engaging media solutions” for advertisers, with an emphasis on performance and using the company’s data to further drive business results.

“I believe Torstar is well poised to lead the change and challenge the advertising ecosystem status quo,” said Ghostine in a release. “My focus will be on developing meaningful business solutions and performance-based technology that will drive business results for our clients.”

Recreational vehicle company BRP has named Cossette its global agency of record, responsible for leading marketing across Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America, with a specific focus on the U.S. market. BRP brands include Ski-Doo, Sea-Doo, Can-Am, Alumacraft and Manitou. The account will be led out of Cossette’s Montreal office.

“With its innovative DNA, strong strategic core and powerful creative work, Cossette is the right business partner to support us in this next chapter of our journey,” said BRP’s senior vice-president of marketing and communications, Anne-Marie LaBerge,in a release.

“Our new strategic partnership with BRP is a natural fit,” added Cossette’s CEO, Mélanie Dunn. “Both companies have an international presence and strong roots in Canada. And with BRP, we’ve found a likeminded partner who shares our entrepreneurial drive and strong culture of innovation.”

Tammy Sadinsky has joined CIBC as senior vice-president, brand and marketing after spending the previous three years as VP of marketing communications at Walmart Canada.

Sadinsky reports into Stephen Forbes, the company’s  executive vice-president, purpose, brand and corporate affairs. In a statement, CIBC said that Sadinsky will be responsible for the CIBC brand as well as the planning, delivery and measurement of its marketing programs and campaigns.

“Tammy brings strong leadership experience managing marketing strategy for top brands in Canada and the US,” said Forbes in a statement. “Her experience and perspective will be valuable as we continue to build a strong emotional connection with our clients.”

Chris Powell