SAN FRANCISCO: Hotwire has promoted Laura Macdonald to EVP and head of its consumer practice in North America, effective immediately.
In the newly created role, Macdonald continues to report to Heather Kernahan, Hotwire’s president of North America and Australia. Previously, Macdonald was SVP and head of the consumer practice. She said no one is directly taking over that role.
Christine Reilly, the consumer practice’s senior director in New York, will take on some of Macdonald’s activities and share them with a senior director in San Francisco that the firm is actively recruiting for.
In January 2017, Macdonald was named Hotwire’s first head of consumer in North America.
This April, CEO Barbara Bates told PRWeek the agency now has a growing consumer practice, specifically driven by the U.S., where it grew revenue by about 49% to $2.1 million in 2018. Consumer clients include booking platform Hostelworld, AI and robotics company Anki and female vibrator company PlusOne.
"Consumer is moving up to the executive level," said Macdonald. "The EVP role is newly created in recognition of how much the focus has been on consumer as a business."
Since Macdonald joined Hotwire, she has been working to "up level the clients the firm has in terms of size and equally in terms of these exciting, real pure-play consumer brands that perhaps wouldn’t have necessarily considered Hotwire," she said.
As EVP, Macdonald will move away from "the day-to-day client stuff" and focus more on promoting what Hotwire is doing by going out and meeting prospects, speaking at events and working closely with some of the firm’s larger clients.
Two recent account wins for the consumer team include PicMonkey and Freeletics. Hotwire is PR AOR for both companies in North America, said Macdonald.
Macdonald led the North American rollout of Hotwire’s report, Understanding Generation Alpha, last year. Additionally, Macdonald started heading the Mexico office in February. Kernahan had managed that office previously. That office has two full-time staffers.
Macdonald has worked at the firm since 2008, when she joined Hotwire’s former sister agency, Skywrite Communications, as senior account manager. In 2012, Skywrite was folded into Hotwire to function as its consumer team, and Macdonald was named head of consumer at Hotwire’s London office. She moved to the U.S. in October 2015 to lead Hotwire’s San Francisco office, prior to the firm’s acquisition of Eastwick in 2016.
Hotwire, owned by Enero Group, grew organically by 10.8% globally to almost $36.9 million in 2018.
Hotwire's global head of consumer Emma Hazan is set to depart at the end of August, at the same time as creative director Tom Rouse. U.K. head of consumer Jessica Gross is exiting in mid-July.
In January, the agency hired Chris Paxton as global chief strategy officer, joining from consultancy The Leading Edge, where he was EMEA CEO.
Hotwire is set to merge with Australia-based agency Precinct this month.