People Moves: Kim Paige Out at VEB; New CMO at AQUAHydrate

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Ericka Pittman, CMO at AQUAHydrate

AQUAHydrate Taps Combs Enterprises VP as New CMO

After seven years of working closely with artist and media entrepreneur Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs, Ericka Pittman has been announced as the new Chief Marketing Officer at AQUAHydrate, the electrolyte-infused alkaline water brand in which Combs is a minority investor and board member.

According to a press release, Pittman will oversee the brand’s functions and strategies within marketing and sales, and will report to CEO Hal Kravitz.

Pittman, a graduate of Baruch College, joins AQUAHydrate after serving in a variety of roles at Combs Enterprises, including most recently as VP of the Chairman’s Office. Prior to that, she was VP of The Blue Flame Agency, a full service marketing and advertising firm, and as VP of Business Development for Combs Wines & Spirits, which includes CÎROC Ultra Premium Vodka and DeLeón Tequila.

“Ericka is a tremendous addition to the AQUAhydrate team,” said Kravitz in a press release. “Her strategic insight and excellence in execution will be able to help accelerate our tremendous growth. With the industry’s demand for premium water evolving and AQUAhydrate introducing its new and innovative programming, the time is now to expand the marketing department under dynamic leadership.”

In a joint statement, Combs and actor Mark Wahlberg, who also joined AQUAHydrate as an investor and board member in 2013, said: “We’re thrilled to have Ericka as AQUAhydrate’s new Chief Marketing Officer. We are confident that her unique combination of experience, passion and creativity will help to further advance AQUAhydrate’s already successful marketing efforts.”

Pittman also has experience working in the media industry, at companies such as Time, Inc. and Condé Nast.

Kim Paige Departs VEB

Kimberly Evans Paige, a 17-year veteran of The Coca-Cola Company who has served in a variety of roles in North America and Global marketing, including most recently as VP of Marketing and Innovation at Coca-Cola’s Venturing and Emerging Brands (VEB) division, has left the company.

Paige, who was one of the judges in the finals of New Beverage Showdown 12 at BevNET Live Winter 2016, joined the VEB leadership team in 2016. Prior to that move, Paige, who earned her Masters in Business Administration from Clark Atlanta University, served as VP of Sparkling Brands, Sprite and Flavors.

An internal note sent to VEB personnel by division president Scott Uzzell did not offer any details about Paige’s new role. “I am thankful for Kim for her many contributions to The Coca-Cola Company over the years,” he wrote. “Please join me in wishing her all the best.”

41993 Scott LaPorta

Scott LaPorta, President and COO, Neuro

Ex-Bolthouse Farms Prez Takes Helm at Neuro

Former Bolthouse Farms president and general manager Scott LaPorta has joined Neurobrands LLC, the Santa Monica, Calif.-based makers of the Neuro line of functional drinks, as the company’s new President and COO.

“We are very excited to have Scott with us to accelerate our growth, bringing neuro to more consumers to enjoy our great tasting healthier functional drinks,” said Diana Jenkins, Neuro founder and CEO, in a press release.

LaPorta joined Bolthouse Farms, which makes a variety of produce, dressing and beverage products, including cold-pressed fruit and vegetable juices, smoothies and cafe drinks, in 2009. The $900 million company is the largest brand in Campbell Soup’s Campbell Fresh (C-Fresh) division.

An MBA graduate of Vanderbilt University, LaPorta had served as COO and CFO at the company before being promoted to President and General Manager in 2016. He spent one tumultuous year in the position, during which Bolthouse was forced to recall 3.8 million bottles of its “Protein PLUS” and “Mocha Cappuccino” lines in June 2016 after the company was made aware of product spoilage following consumer complaints of illness.

Campbell’s Soup CEO Denise Morrison announced LaPorta’s removal as president at Bolthouse Farms during the company’s fourth quarter 2016 earnings call in September.

Jeff Hansson Shifts Exclusively to Villager Goods

Villager Goods has announced that Jeff Hansson has joined the company on a full-time basis.

Hansson is leaving his role as VP of San Diego-based beer company Saint Archer Brewing to focus exclusively on on Villager, a new food and beverage brand that he launched with Saint Archer founder Josh Landan in July 2016.

According to public records, JLJH (Josh Landan/Jeff Hansson) Management LLC owns the Villager Goods trademark and has raised $1.39 million. Similar to Saint Archer, Villager includes some notable action sports athletes among its investors.

Villager’s first product, launched in August, is a pasteurized and not-from-concentrate organic coconut water line available in three flavors: original, pineapple and chocolate.

Update: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Kristina Simmons, an early employee and individual contributor on the marketing team at home juice press start-up Juicero, had stepped down from her role as head of marketing and business development and would be staying on with the company as an advisor. A source at the company confirmed the details of Simmons’ employment to BevNET and that she would not be continuing in an advisory role. They also clarified that the company’s current CMO is Deena Bahri.