BHLA’s addition of ‘Shelma’ is just one of several agency exec moves in recent weeks

The past few days have seen a spate of new hires and promotions among Canadian agencies, with shops variously looking to “hoard” top talent, or “re-imagine” themselves for the future. Here’s a round-up of some of the recent moves.

BHLA adds award-winning creative team ‘Shelma’

Broken Heart Love Affair has made a significant addition to its creative ranks, hiring the team of Elma Karabegovic and Shannon McCarroll. Their appointment continues partner and chief strategy officer Jay Chaney‘s stated goal of “hoarding” the best talent in the industry. “Their work speaks for itself and know that every one of our clients are going to benefit,” said Chaney in a LinkedIn post announcing their hire.

Dubbed “Shelma” by BHLA, the former FCB Canada team was behind the Canadian Down Syndrome Society’s acclaimed “Project Understood” campaign, which, assisted by Google, taught the tech giant’s speech recognition programs to understand the distinctive speech of people with Down Syndrome.

The campaign was a major success on the international awards show circuit, including winning a Gold Lion at Cannes as well as a Titanium Shortlist, to go with 12 gold Pencils at the One Show. The pair also garnered recognition for their work on a BMO campaign addressing female financial empowerment.

Karabegovic joins BHLA after spending the previous four years as associate creative director with FCB. Prior to that, she spent three years with Juniper Park\TBWA, and also spent several years freelancing in the U.K.

“Another agency acronym for my mom to confuse for years to come,” said McCarroll. Prior to joining FCB, she spent nearly two years as a senior copywriter with the former Grip Limited.

“We’ve been watching this dynamic duo since their love story began during their time at FCB Toronto and we couldn’t be more thrilled that they will be bringing that love and their creative magic to Broken Heart Love Affair,” said BHLA partner and chief business officer, Bev Hammond.

Publicis promotes Rusli

Publicis Media Canada has promoted David Rusli to chief strategy and data officer, heading a practice that brings together strategy, data and research. The former global strategy lead for Microsoft based in New York, Rusli has spent three-and-a-half years with Publicis, most recently as executive vice-president, head of strategy and research.

Among his recent accomplishments is building an internal think tank comprised of talent from various disciplines, and playing a central role in developing a focused DE&I strategy.

Rusli will helm the agency’s “innovation agenda,” said Publicis Media CEO Alastair Taylor. “Strategy is at its strongest when it’s powered by meaningful data. So, we have done exactly that, [merging] our data and strategy capabilities as one business function. We’re now a heavyweight in interpreting this data, and David has helped orchestrate the integration of the tools we’re designing.”

“Anyone can create a marketing dashboard. Our team turns numbers into narratives,” said Rusli. “Our proprietary tools seek to interpret the human behaviour and cultural context behind the numbers. We strive to reflect the insight of the audience and use it to craft transformative strategies for brands.”

Wavemaker names two new VPs

Wavemaker Canada recently added two new vice-presidents: Tracey Weinrib as VP, precision marketing, and Chimi Nwagbara as VP, investment. Nwagbara replaces Lindsey Talbot, who was promoted to chief investment officer at GroupM Canada.

“Wavemaker Canada’s mission is to positively provoke growth for our clients,” said CEO Kristie Painting. “Chimi and Tracey bring deep expertise in their respective disciplines, as well as unique perspectives to the overall team. We are delighted to share their business intelligence with our valued partners, as we continue to uncover new ways to grow.”

Weinrib worked in Australia prior to joining Wavemaker, holding a number of senior positions focused on data, technology and precision marketing. Nwagbara joins the agency from MediaCom, where she was most recently director of investment.

Cossette Media adds to senior leadership team

Cossette Media has made two new additions to its leadership team, with Nirmala Bahall joining as senior vice-president of business leadership, and Triona O’Conner arriving as VP of performance and ecommerce.

Bahall joins the agency from Edelman, where she oversaw performance and paid media. She joins the agency’s executive leadership team led by president Axel Dumont.

O’Conner was previously group account director with Reprise, where she was group account director. She will work with VP of activation Marie-Christine Simard and SVP of media buying Diane Devries within Dominik Majka’s activation and performance team.

The agency also announced that Brian Cuddy has been promoted to a new role within Kristin Wozniak‘s strategy, analytics and insights team, becoming VP of digital solutions, product and responsible media—a role the agency says is intended to ensure that clients are “future-ready” while developing digital products and solutions that drive ethical investments and business outcomes.

“As an agency, we strive to have analytics, data, strategy and impact at the heart of everything we do,” said Dumont. “By establishing leaders who value these principles, it ensures we produce forward-thinking, industry-leading work—powering our digital product nationally and truly making media matter.”

Edelman hires St-Victor as Montreal GM

Edelman Canada has hired Martine St-Victor as general manager of its Montreal office, where she will be responsible for strategy, sustainable growth and profitability, as well as leading new business and marketing. She starts in the new role on Aug. 30.

The Quebec native is a well-known communications strategist, having founded Milagro Atelier de Relations Publiques 18 years ago. She is also a regular contributor to Quebec media outlets including the Montreal Gazette, La Presse, Radio-Canada and CBC.

“We are so excited to welcome Martine to Edelman,” said Lisa Kimmel, Edelman’s chair and CEO, Canada and Latin America. “Her strategic approach, experience and leadership style complement our existing team both in Montreal and nationally. We look forward to seeing what we can accomplish together.”

Dentsu hires Rolf Donders, promotes Fil Lourenco

Dentsu Media Canada has announced three key senior hires that it says further its strategy of championing “meaningful progress” for clients that help them win in the digital economy.

Rolf Donders has been named VP of commerce and product, working alongside CEO Alex Panousis with a responsibility for the agency’s commerce practice, while also leading new business and overall media operations across the Carat, dentsu X and iProspect divisions.

The agency has also promoted agency veteran Kirk Cavell to VP of strategy, leading strategy for multiple clients as well as new business. Finally, Fil Lourenco has been named VP of programmatic and digital, leading a programmatic team that spans Dentsu’s entire media agency portfolio.

“There is no room for purebred advertising solutions in a complex, consumer-driven world where the pace of evolution is only accelerating,” said Panousis. “In all three, we have found hybrid leaders who expertly understand the foundations of the media business, while at the same time are agents of change who are not afraid of taking risks to transform the role a media agency can play to be relevant, and value-additive to our clients.”

New hires for doug&partners

Last month, doug&partners announced a series of additions to its team, as it undergoes what it describes as a “re-imagination” of the agency at a time of “monumental change.”

“At the beginning of the year, I realized while we had achieved ongoing success for our clients, I have been sitting in comfortable,” said agency founder Doug Robinson. “So I started asking myself—what is next for doug&partners? If I wasn’t willing to keep challenging myself into discomfort, I might as well just close up shop.”

The 35-year industry veteran put his transformation plans into motion in March, when he brought in Christine Scott as managing director.

The re-imagination process continued with the hiring of Marta Hooper as executive creative director. Hooper, who has produced work for clients including Red Bull, Nike, Spotify and HBO, espouses an “egalitarian” creative philosophy that brings people together from different disciplines, backgrounds, passions and cultural interests.

The agency also hired James Ly as creative director, and Megg Kerr as head of planning. Ly, whose career includes stints with draftLine YYZ, Cheil Canada and FCB/Six, is described as a “digital and social expert who finds comfort in change.”

Kerr’s experience spans brand planning, digital strategy, and experiential marketing. Prior to joining doug&partners, she spent four-and-a-half years with Mosaic North America, working her way up to senior director of strategy.

Chris Powell