Carrie Jones
Carrie Jones

Carrie Jones, with more than 20 years of experience in adverting and public relations, has been promoted to chief executive officer at Mari + Gold, a sister agency of Raindrop, a local creative marketing agency.

Jones previously served as Raindrop’s chief communications officer, overseeing agency-wide communications and in an advisory capacity to Mari + Gold, which she co-founded in May 2022 with Raindrop’s CEO Jacques Spitzer and chief operations officer Adam Wagner.

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Jones will serve as Mari + Gold’s first-ever CEO alongside Nicole Bushnell, president of Mari + Gold. The agency specializes in hospitality, tourism and lifestyle clientele.

In her new role as CEO of Mari + Gold, Jones will be responsible for driving the agency’s overall vision and business strategy, a statement said. Also, she will work alongside Bushnell to provide operational and client leadership while also leveraging her expertise and creativity to support client strategy across various service lines.

“As Mari + Gold CEO, I will be lead finance decision-maker and have a heavy focus on the health of the business and the strategic decision we take as an agency,” Jones told Times of San Diego. “I’m thrilled for the opportunity to lead Mari + Gold. The hospitality, tourism and lifestyle industries have always been my passion and I am excited for the opportunity to be able to serve Mari + Gold and our clients in these industries full-time.”

A Raindrop spokesperson told Times of San Diego that Jones’ previous roles with Raindrop and Mari + Gold amounted to a workload that couldn’t be sustained in the long-term. Revenue growth for Mari + Gold in mid-to-late 2022 made the CEO’s position possible.

“I’m thrilled for Carrie to join Mari + Gold on a full-time basis, further strengthening our female leadership presence,” said Bushnell. “Her unparalleled expertise and passion for our agency, clients and the industries we serve has already been instrumental in Mari + Gold’s growth since its inception. With her experience and compassion, we look forward to the new heights she will lead us to in this role.”

After graduating from San Diego State University in 2001, Jones’ career has included working with the Townsend Agency (2000-2002), Benson Marketing Group (in Napa Valley, 2002-2004), 62Above (2004-2014), and MeadsDurket (2014-2018) before joining Raindrop in 2018.

“Carrie is a special leader, world-class communicator, and her background in the hospitality tourism and lifestyle industries is second to none,” said Spitzer. “With Raindrop, her leadership was transformative and Adam and I were thrilled to partner with her when launching Mari + Gold. We are excited to see her thrive in a CEO role and take our team and partners to new levels of success.”

With more than 20 team members, Mari + Gold offers a wide range of services, including brand planning and development, website development, design and management, public relations, influencer marketing, design, organic social media management, content creation and paid media. Clients include Jazzercise, Inc., Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, T S Restaurants, Crack’d Kitchen & Coffee, Hilton San Diego Bayfront, Regents Pizza and GO Car Wash.

Raindrop, founded in 2010, currently has 72 employees.

IABC San Diego Seeking Communicator of the Year Nominees

The International Association of Business Communicators San Diego chapter is seeking nominations for its 2023 Communicator of the Year and Junior COTY award. The deadline is Friday, March 10.

The public is invited to nominate an outstanding San Diego-area communicator and junior communicator (with less than five years of experience) who demonstrate strategic excellence in communication.

COTY award criteria includes a demonstration of strong leadership, management and communication skills, along with delivery of core values, key messages and key milestones and the support of key stakeholders. Also the nominee should have a commitment to both corporate and community citizenship. The winner will be announced in April.

For more criteria and eligibility information, visit To nominate someone, send a summary statement of no more than two pages on why your nominee deserves the award to With additional questions, send an email to

It’s the 10th annual COTY program for the local IABC chapter. Previous winners have included LaMonica Everett-Haynes (2022), Sarah Bilyeu (2021), Kate Griffin (2020), Mike Godfrey (2019), Margie Newman (2018), Lisa Hunter (2017), Anna Davison (2016), Marilyn Olson (2015) and Carson Lane (2014). 

San Diego AMA Launches New Sandie Awards

The American Marketing Association San Diego chapter is accepting entries for the 2023 Sandie Awards, its new annual marketing awards program. Entry deadline is March 31.

The awards will recognize the most creative, inspiring and effective marketing created by or for a San Diego-based company, including consultancies, corporations, educational institutions and nonprofits between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2022.

Award categories include Branding, Cause Marketing, Content Marketing, Crisis Response-Critical Pivot, Customer Experience, Direct-to-Consumer, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Event Marketing, Experiential Marketing, Influencer Marketing, Integrated Campaign, Marketing Innovation, SEO, Social Media, Student Project, Video and Website. Entries will judged based on challenges and objectives, strategy and tactics and results and campaign elements.

Per-entry cost is $85 for AMA members, $100 for non-members. After March 15, the per-entry cost increases to $100 and $135, respectively.

Awards will be presented at a gala dinner May 11 at the Town and Country Resort Hotel and Convention Center. Dinner emcee will be Shelley Callahan, an AMA San Diego past president. A keynote address will be presented by Troy Johnson, food critic, Food Network star and publisher of San Diego Magazine.

“The Sandie Awards will spotlight the inventive and successful marketing campaigns conducted in San Diego County and set marketing professionals apart as award-winning and representing the best of the best in the region,” said Rebecca Winkler, Sandie Awards event chair.

Frank Cowell, 2023 AMA San Diego board president, said, “I’ve seen incredible marketing campaigns come from boutique firms all the way up to the largest corporations in San Diego. The Sandie Awards provide a space for us to come together, see the amazing work marketers are doing in our region, and walk away inspired to raise the bar for our own work.”

For more information, visit

TV Viewing is Shrinking Among Gen Z

For decades, TV has been the center of the entertainment ecosystem. But maybe not in the future.

For Gen Z consumers, TV is just one of several ways they spend their screen time, according to a new study from Hub Entertainment Research.

Younger consumers, ages 13 to 24, spend only 17 percent of their time viewing TV shows, said the study, as reported by TV Tech, an industry news outlet. Instead of TV, younger viewers, called the Gen Z cohort, spend the majority of their screen time on gaming and online social video platforms, such as YouTube or TikTok.

In contrast, viewers ages 35 and older spend 43 percent of their total screen time watching TV, which is more time with TV than any other screen, the study found.

Also, viewers ages 35 and older watch entertainment only 12 percent of the time on a phone. But, those ages 13 to 24 spend about 30 percent of their time watching entertainment on their phone. And 72 percent of younger consumers watch TikTok at least once a day.

“The next generation of TV consumers are just less engaged with traditional TV itself,” Jon Giegengack, principal at Hub, said in a statement “Gaming and social video are the focus of their entertainment lifestyles. There’s no reason to assume they’ll grow out of these habits as they age. Media organizations need to adapt to these changes in order to meet tomorrow’s viewers on the devices and platforms where they will spend most of their time.”

According to news story about the same Hub study by nScreenMedia, an industry website, adding in professionally produced video such as movies makes the difference between younger and older people even starker. Gen-Zers said they spent 31 percent of their screen time with professional video, while those ages 35-plus spent 60 percent.

The study was based on a December 2022 survey of 1,900 consumers, ages 13 to 74.

Rick Griffin is a San Diego-based public relations and marketing consultant. His MarketInk column appears weekly on Mondays in Times of San Diego.