Another high-profile marketing executive is moving into marijuana. Kevin George, former global chief marketing officer at Beam Suntory and CMO and president at marketing agency Mosaic, has accepted a position as CMO at Harvest Health and Recreation, one of the largest vertically integrated cannabis companies in the U.S.
His hire lends more proof that the growing cannabis industry is creating more job opportunities for former consumer-packaged goods and retail marketing execs looking to get in on the ground floor of a category that is shifting from black market to mainstream status.
George will be charged with building a portfolio of cannabis consumer brands. Harvest, which has more than 425 employees and trades publicly on the Canadian Stock Exchange, is involved in cannabis cultivation and retail distribution. The Phoenix-based company operates in 12 states and has ambitious expansion plans, as more states legalize pot.
"We are building the strongest team in cannabis to support the continued development of Harvest's market leading position, and Kevin's proven success in growing household name consumer brands across multiple categories and running large P/L's will help us further define and differentiate in ultra-competitive markets across the country," Harvest CEO Steve White stated in a press release.
George recently departed Mosaic after a three-year stint at the 1,400-employee agency, whose services include retail, content and event marketing, as well as creative and brand design offerings. He previously spent six years at Beam Suntory overseeing marketing for brands including Jim Beam, Maker's Mark and Knob Creek. Before that he was VP/general manager for deodorants and hair care at Unilever, where he made a name for himself spearheading unconventional marketing campaigns for Axe body spray.
George, who lives in Chicago, is expected to move to a Harvest marketing office in Southern California. "Harvest's unmatched team will lead and further shape the cannabis industry at a critical moment of growth, which requires a thoughtful vision for building powerful consumer brands," George stated in the press release. "I can't imagine a more exciting place to be right now if you are a marketer, and I'm thrilled to help grow Harvest into the largest cannabis company in the world."
Other pot firms that have recruited execs from big-name consumer brands include Chicago-based Cresco Labs, which recently brought on marketers from Gatorade and MillerCoors.
Last year, Los Angeles-based cannabis retailer MedMen tapped David Dancer as its CMO. He made the move from Teleflora, where he was executive-VP, head of marketing after previous stints at Visa, Charles Schwab and American Express.