Former Patrón Spirits and Grey Goose CMO Lee Applbaum joins cannabis firm

Philippa Classey also joins as its first managing director.

Marijuana company Surterra Wellness has amped up its leadership team with the addition of former Patrón Spirits and Grey Goose CMO Lee Applbaum. 

He will sit at the helm of Surterra’s marketing department as Philippa Classey becomes its first managing director, Europe.

"Lee is one of the most extraordinary brand builders in the business and having him join our executive leadership team is a big win for Surterra," said CEO William "Beau" Wrigley Jr. 

"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."

At Bacardi, Applbaum led two global integrated marketing organizations across more than 165 countries reporting to the global CEO. He was also CMO for Target Australia, and held leadership marketing roles at recognized retail and consumer goods companies, including RadioShack Corporation, Federated Department Stores, and Schlotsky's. Applbaum began his career at the Coca-Cola Company.  

Applbaum said: "Surterra is creating the blueprint for leadership in the cannabis space based on a strong ethos, which I immediately identified with having come from brands with a heritage of ethos. 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.  

"I'm honored to join a team of the most experienced and game-changing leaders of global iconic companies and brands to create innovative cannabis products and authentic brands that will make a big impact on the well-being of consumers."

Classey, who will be based in London and report to Wrigley, joins Surterra as its first international executive leadership team member, signaling the company's readiness to expand into Europe and other international markets. 

Prior to joining Surterra, she was the CMO of Harmless Harvest where she reported to the CEO and oversaw the growth expansion plans of regulated coconut water. She also led the commercial launch of SmartWater and Vitamin Water in Europe for the Coca-Cola Company, having worked at the company in its water and juice divisions for two decades. 

"Philippa will be our first executive leader based outside the U.S. and will spearhead our efforts to expand into international markets and to complement our South American footprint in Colombia, beginning with the EU marketplace," said Wrigley.  

"As an entrepreneurial leader who has led successful launches of consumer and regulated products across Europe, Philippa is a strategic addition to our leadership team."

Classey added: "I couldn't be more excited to lead the expansion of Surterra into Europe and to build our international cannabis business across the rapidly growing EU cannabis market. Surterra offers the big thinking and leadership of an established global player with the entrepreneurial opportunity to write the playbook for how to be an global leader in this space."

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