Three former Huge employees have returned to the agency in leadership positions to further enhance certain offerings, such as CRM and loyalty; experience design; and talent and diversity and inclusion.
The boomerang hires, including Ian Burns, Mitsy Lopez-Baranello and Marlena Edwards, come about seven months after Michael Koziol took on the global CEO role at Huge.
“I’m proud that these three – and any others – have chosen to return to Huge. It’s an important sign of confidence in where we’re going because these people know the company very well from different aspects of the business,” said Koziol. “They have history with the business and the brand, and they care about the brand.”
Lopez-Baranello, who previously spent six years at Huge, has returned to the agency as group VP of CRM and loyalty. Most recently, she was senior-VP of strategy at Publicis, where she managed CRM and digital initiatives for Citi.
While Huge has never declared CRM as its own practice, Koziol said the shop has always been interested and focused on it as a discipline, especially around user-centric strategies and data models. “What we’re starting to see more and more is specific asks from clients about CRM credentials and capabilities, so formalizing the coalition makes sense for us right now,” he explained.
Burns, who spent about three years at Huge in the past, is rejoining as global executive creative director, focusing on experience design. Prior to his return to Huge, he worked at experience shop Instrument.
Design has been a major part of Huge’s history, and Burns’ appointment will help continue to build out the agency’s creative and design expertise.
“What excites me right now is that the impact experience design is having on branding is at a high because companies and users are realizing that there’s little separation between brand experience and the brand itself,” said Koziol. “It’s empowering our ability to play an elevated role in branding through the strength we have in transformative experience design.”
Koziol added that experience design isn’t just about putting digital into spaces and places anymore – it’s about developing places and spaces from the ground up with digital in mind. “It’s proof that digital now transcends the physical world,” he said.
In addition to Lopez-Baranello and Burns, Huge welcomes back Marlena Edwards as group VP of talent, with an emphasis on diversity and inclusion. Edwards, most recently at Big Spaceship, will spearhead Huge’s talent operations across North America, while also bringing D&I expertise to the agency.
“Rather than have D&I as an isolated function or a sole job, the goal is to ensure that it becomes endemic within the organization and that it’s present across all talent touchpoints, from recruiting and engagement to retention and ongoing talent management,” said Koziol.
He added: “The more inclusive we are, the more representative we are, the broader our perspective is and the better we are, the better our work is and the better we live up to the values of the organization.”