February 21, 2013 (as taken from Marketing Magazine)

Kelly McCarten has been named CEO of Toronto agency Launch. She is tasked with growing the promo/experiential marketing agency through a combination of retail channel innovation and a fully integrated approach to project management.

McCarten has spent the past five years leading her own company, McCarten Marketing, serving a variety of clients including the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada – where she played a role in the launch of its recent consumer marketing programs “Make Death Wait” and its most recent initiative, “Make Health Last.”

It was while leading her own business that McCarten struck up a business relationship with Launch owner and founder Michael Smith through his other company, Transparent Inc.

“It was a great opportunity for me, so I thought was best to move now,” said McCarten.

McCarten said her experience on both client and agency side (prior to launching her own consultancy, she spent 10 years with Coca-Cola Canada in increasingly senior roles) will be a key factor in her new role with Launch.

“I have a great sense of what clients need, not just from the experiential perspective…but their larger-scale business needs,” she said. “You can always provide better service, better execution and better strategy for your client when you have a better sense of their overarching need.”

Launch programs garnered more than 40 million interactions with Canadians last year. Established in 2004, the agency has worked with clients including Pepsi, Carlsberg, Loblaws, Dr. Oetker, Parmalat.

Experiential has become “paramount” in today’s multi-faceted marketing landscape, said McCarten. “We have a tremendous opportunity to influence them and change their behaviour and attitudes towards that brand.”

McCarten said that Launch is well positioned for the future because its core competency is so vital to brands. Her immediate priorities with the agency include developing a “high-performance, customer-centric” team and increasing consumer industry insights in order to build stronger strategic approaches.

Launch employs approximately 120 people at offices in Toronto, Montreal and remote offices in Ontario, Western Canada and Atlantic Canada, as well as an additional 2,500 “brand ambassadors” across the country.