Former Patrón and Grey Goose CMO resurfaces at cannabis brand

Lee Applbaum stepped down from Bacardi in June

Lee Applbaum, the Bacardi exec previously charged with heading up marketing for Patrón and Grey Goose, has been named chief marketing officer of cannabis brand Surterra Wellness.

Applbaum resigned from Bacardi in July, citing a desire to “pursue [his] personal passions in business and life”.

He will now lead Surterra’s global marketing teams in product innovation, integrated brand marketing, retail branding and sales management. He will report directly to the ‘wellness’ company’s chief executive, William ‘Beau’ Wrigley Jr.

Wrigley dubbed Applbaum’s onboarding a “big win” for Surterra.

“As an accomplished senior marketing expert, Lee is exceptional at branding products in ways consumers connect with authentically, engaging with consumers at the right moments, and making the complex simple – all critically important in the cannabis business,” he said.

“Lee also shares our consumer-first mindset, our values, and our aim to be the gold-standard in the business.”

Applbaum added: “I’m excited to make the leap from luxury spirits to the dynamic cannabis industry because of Beau Wrigley’s vision for Surterra and the industry.”

The marketer is joined on the team by Philippa Classey, who takes up the role of managing director for Europe based in London. She has been tasked with “spearheading” Surterra’s expansion in the EU – a difficult job given the numerous legal systems the brand will need to surmount in order to go to market.

The first exec to take the job, Classey was previously chief marketing officer of coconut water brand Harmless Harves in San Francisco. Before relocating in 2016, she worked on various Coca-Cola brands and projects in Europe from 2000.

Classey and Applbaum join a growing number of marketers leaving their traditional roles to ride the cannabis decriminalization wave. Another recruit is Jann Parish, the former chief marketing officer of Victoria’s Secret, who was named CMO of Ohio’s Green Growth Brands in June.

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