Sophie Ann Kelly, Senior Vice President, Whisk(e)y, Diageo North America
With a global advertising career spanning more than two decades and four continents, Sophie Kelly has established herself as a business-minded creative force, and an agent of change. She has a proven combination of traditional brand marketing knowledge and digital expertise, allowing her to be a valued partner for brands, agencies, and colleagues alike, in their journeys to transform marketing and communications.
Sophie joined Diageo in 2016 as the Senior Vice President of Diageo’s industry-leading Whisk(e)y portfolio in North America. In that role, she’s led growth on some of the most iconic and valuable brands in the category. She is also responsible for a group of distilleries and brand homes that include the historic Stitzel-Weller, known as the “Cathedral of Bourbon,” and the new $115 million Bulleit Distilling Co. in Kentucky. She is enjoying crafting the future of North American Whiskey. Most recently she brought on entrepreneur and award-winning distiller Nicole Austin to lead the Cascade Hollow Distilling Co., home to George Dickel Tennessee Whisky.
In her previous role as CEO of The Barbarian Group, Sophie transformed the company from a small, innovative digital production shop to a tech-forward creative company that provided everything from brand planning, to creative, to technology and experience design. During her tenure the agency was the inaugural winner of the Cannes Lions Innovation Grand Prix, was named to Crain’s Best Places to Work list, and won marquee accounts including Pepsi, IBM, Etihad and Kind.
Prior to joining The Barbarian Group, Sophie served as Managing
Director of the agency StrawberryFrog. Previously she acted as Global Business Director at J. Walter Thompson Worldwide.
Sophie is known for her approach of always being in service of the brand. She also remains committed to doing the right thing to generate innovative creative ideas that translate into world-class work which will drive business results for brands.