Reebok Ends Negotiations To Renew Deal With CrossFit Following Tweet From CEO

Negotiations to renew Reebok’s 10-year exclusive deal as the CrossFit title sponsor, which has positioned Reebok as the sole licensee of CrossFit apparel and shoes and was set to expire sometime after this year’s games, ended when Glassman replied to the Director of Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation’s statement, “Racism is a public health issue,” with the following tweet: “It’s FLOYD-19.”

In a statement to Morning Chalk Up, Reebok said that it would fulfill remaining contractual obligations in 2020, citing its commitment and dedication to the CrossFit community ties it has built over the past decade.

Reebok’s exodus imperils the millions of dollars CrossFit receives in royalty payments from Reebok’s licensing deal and the multimillion-dollar prize fund Reebok contributes each year.

Glassman then tried to backpedal, championing Floyd in this apology he issued:

By then, however, the damage had been done. Glassman’s remark was met with public backlash from brands and members of the CrossFit community alike. Nearly 100 current and past CrossFit participants posted text-only messages saying, “I’m Out,” as well as video reactions, declining participation in these year’s games, pending major changes being made to CrossFit.

Previous sponsors of CrossFit, such as LIFEAID’s FITAID and Rogue, also censured Glassman’s statement. Rogue, for example, decided to immediately remove the CrossFit logo from Rogue Invitational, its upcoming online fitness competition, noting that its future with CrossFit is dependent on the “direction and leadership within CrossFit HQ.”

Co-founder and president of LIFEAID Aaron Hinde said in a video that the company will also end its longstanding relationship as a sponsor of the CrossFit Games.

Glassman’s remark comes as brands rally behind the Black Lives Matter movement, which CrossFit was silent about until after Glassman’s tweet went viral. In fact, after the affiliate owner of a CrossFit gym urged CrossFit to speak up about its stance on Black Lives Matter, Glassman chided her for, “doing your best to brand us as racist.”

While countless brands issued statements supporting the black community and pledging donations to organizations supporting racial justice, CrossFit resumed normal messaging; even going so far as to launch a new program called CrossFit Health Education, which provides education and professional development opportunities for doctors, trainers and health-care providers, on June 2. On that same day, which came to be known as Blackout Tuesday, brands went dark on social media to show solidarity with Black Lives Matter protesters.

New York Times Diversity Report Shows Fair Progress In Diversifying Staff

Across The New York Times, 43 percent of new hires in 2019 identified as people of color, according to the company’s latest diversity report for 2019.

The breakdown reflects New York Times’ fair progress in diversifying staff across gender, race and ethnicity. At the leadership level, inclusivity is growing, but still has a ways to go; people of color now represent 21 percent of leadership roles, up from 16 percent in 2015. Women, on the other hand, now represent 49 percent of leadership, up from 40 percent in 2015.

Representation among staff overall has improved. People of color now account for 32 percent of New York Times staff and women represent 51 percent of staff.

Despite the advancements, white employees still dominate staff and leadership roles, representing 65 percent of all staff, down from 73 percent in 2015, and 76 percent of leadership, down from 83 percent in 2015.

The company admits it still has gaps in representation at the leadership level and explained its ongoing initiatives in 2019 to bridge that gap. In terms of hiring, it says it relies on diverse panels to assess diverse slates of job candidates and provides hiring managers with tools to remove bias from job descriptions.

To ensure pay equity, the New York Times conducts pay reviews every two years and reviews promotion and retention data at least quarterly.

Examples of how the publication has sought to foster a more inclusive culture include adding gender-neutral bathrooms to its offices in New York and London, in response to staff requests; incorporating inclusion and belonging in trainings on unconscious bias; encouraging senior executives to hold regular discussions on progress and challenges across the company; and implementing regular town halls and Q&As with company and department leaders, with more ways for employees to share feedback, like office hours and smaller forums.

Google is faring much worse in reaching a racially just workplace. According to its seventh consecutive diversity report, released in early May, the percentage of black hires in the US in 2019 was 5.5 percent, up by just 0.7 percent from 2018.

Warner Bros. Hires Tricia Melton As CMO, Global Kids, Young Adults And Classics

This week in leadership updates, Warner Bros. appoints Tricia Melton as CMO, Global Kids, Young Adults and Classics and Hangar 24 Craft Brewing hires John Waters as CMO.

Warner Bros. Hires Tricia Melton As Chief Marketing Officer, Global Kids, Young Adults And Classics

Tricia Melton, former SVP of marketing, brand, creative and communications at Disney-owned Freeform has joined Warner Bros. as CMO, Global Kids, Young Adults and Classics. Effective June 29, Melton will oversee the unit, which houses Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Boomerang, Warner Bros. Animation and Turner Classic Movies.

Before Freeform, Melton was SVP, entertainment marketing and branding for TBS, TNT and TCM. Prior to that, she served as VP, marketing for Lifetime Television.

Hangar 24 Craft Brewing Names John Waters As Chief Marketing Officer

According to Brewbound, Hangar 24 Craft Brewing has appointed former Air Force Fighter pilot John Waters as CMO.

During his tenure as the F-16 Demo Team Commander, Waters transformed the US Air Force’s social media strategy, growing his team’s social media presence to over 200,000 followers and nearly 7 million engagements.

UK Ad Leaders Pen Open Letter Urging Industry To Take Action Against Racism

More than 200 UK advertising and media leaders have signed an open letter urging the industry to promote a racially just workplace, to call out and maintain an open dialogue about racism and be conscious of the trauma many black employees may be experiencing during this time of unrest.

The letter points to the latest IPA Agency Census, published in April, which revealed ethnic diversity at a leadership level has fallen fractionally year-on-year: in 2019, just 4.7 percent of C-suite executives were from an ethnic minority background, down from 5.5 percent in 2018.

To create and maintain “inclusive cultures sensitive to inequity and the pain of racism,” the signatories encourage the industry first empower leaders to drive representation by making inclusivity a core part of its strategic priorities, and thereafter transparently communicating these objectives. Leaders should also use their brand channels to acknowledge the escalating racism of the last few months and share relevant information backed by black-driven research.

Enabling employees to understand their privileges and biases and ensuring leaders widen their points of view must also become priorities.

Calling out racism whenever it’s encountered, the authors note, is everyone’s job, from the CEO to all staff. This requires creating safe spaces where frank conversations about racism can occur and using existing employee resource groups, such as WPP’s Roots and Publicis Group’s Embrace, or creating new ones.

The letter also implores leaders to check in with black employees and to promote and celebrate black talent as well as work with black-owned businesses and supply chains. Lastly, they caution leaders against creating advertising that funds white supremacy or racist content

Brands Rally Behind Blackout Tuesday, Though Some Fall Short

Two black women in music, Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang, recently staged a blackout, which was observed on June 2, in response to the nationwide protests that ensued after the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. “The Show Must Be Paused” was created “in observance of the long-standing racism and inequality that exists from the boardroom to the boulevard.” While its intended purpose was for major labels, who have for years profited from black artists, to disconnect from work and get educated about the country’s interminable racism issue, the initiative suffused non-music brands’ messaging across social media; countless accounts posted a blank black box, transforming the Instagram feed into endless darkness.

Upon sharing black boxes, however, many brands erroneously used the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter, which is being used to help organizers and allies spread information needed to keep people informed, in replacement of the hashtag #BlackOutTuesday; thereby blocking information from being disseminated. 

Additionally, some argued that pausing all activity for a day, as encouraged by the organizers of “The Show Must Be Paused,” would counteract the very goal of protests, which is to bolster black voices and the ways which allies can support racial justice.

Many brands voiced their support on blackout day in the form of social media posts, letters from CEOs and donation pledges. In an analysis of the Fortune 100 Best Workplaces for Diversity, Klear found that in response to the Black Lives Matter protests, 31 percent of companies made a public statement against racism and in support of black communities.

Perhaps fearing they lack the appropriate past rhetoric to appear authentic in their support of Black Lives Matter, many brands chose to post one version or another of a black box, with or without supporting text; including the 49ers, Pandora Jewelry, Disney and Vans, to name a few. While others posted messages from their CEO, including Panera, Macy’s and Taco Bell.

SiriusXM and Pandora and Live Nation both announced their observance of Blackout Tuesday. And just before the day arrived, Spotify announced that it will continue to use the power of its platform to amplify black voices but that, “now is not the time for silence.”

Glossier pledged $500,000 in donations across organizations for the cause and an additional $500,000 in the form of grants to black-owned beauty businesses, with more details to come.

Facebook also pledged $10 million to efforts committed to ending racial injustice as it faces internal unrest; Facebook employees held a virtual walkout on June 1 in response to CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s inaction on President Trump’s posts.

Peloton pledged both $500,000 to the legal defense fund of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and hosted a live “Speak Up Ride,” followed by a 10-minute “Breathe In, Speak Out” meditation.

Other brands took a more effective approach in their observance of Blackout Tuesday. ViacomCBS and its networks like Comedy Central and MTV aired a poignant eight-minute, 46-second, text-only video to commemorate the victims of police brutality. The words “I can’t breathe” repeatedly appear to the sound of nearly nine consecutive minutes of deep breathing. On June 1, ViacomCBS went dark for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, which marks the time in which Floyd was killed. ViacomCBS’ network Nickelodeon also announced a “declaration of kids’ rights”:

Ben & Jerry’s, which has an ethos rooted in acts of social justice, was also one such brand, posting this message:

Reebok was possibly the most forthright about the role it plays in Black Lives Matter; in a series of text-only Instagram posts, the brand acknowledged that without the black community, Reebok would not exist: “We are not asking you to buy our shoes. We are asking you to walk in someone else’s.”

A text-only video ad made Nike one of the first brands to make a statement about the protests, pre-blackout. Though Nike’s past campaigns reflect a commitment to social justice, some responded to the ad with criticism, citing Nike’s flawed labor practices and the lack of diversity in its own company.

The challenge that remains for brands is how to communicate support for Black Lives Matter without coming across as tone-deaf. Acknowledging that their success has been built on the borrowing of black culture and profiting from black consumers is undoubtedly the first step.

Google Diversity Report Shows Little Progress Toward Racially Just Workplace

The percentage of black hires in the US grew from 4.8 percent in 2018 to 5.5 percent in 2019, a paltry 0.7 percent increase. That’s according to Google’s seventh consecutive diversity report, released in early May.

Google’s workforce representation for most underrepresented groups also saw only a minor uptick. For example, black and Latinx employees accounted for 9.6 percent of the US workforce in 2019, up from nine percent in 2018. The percentage of black employees in leadership roles was flat while the percentage of Latinx employees in leadership positions increased by just 0.4 percent.

A Spencer Stuart report released recently paints a slightly brighter picture for representation among chief marketing officers (CMOs); in 2019, of all new CMOs, 19 percent were from racially and/or ethnically diverse backgrounds, compared to zero in 2018.

Google did, however, see the largest increase in its hiring of black technical employees since its first report in 2014, albeit a small increase—0.7 percent.

Google’s representation of black employees may appear underactive, but this year’s findings are actually milestones; in addition to its hiring percentage of black technical employees being the largest in the US since Google started publishing diversity data, its hiring percentage of black non-tech employees in the US also saw the largest increase since 2015.

The company’s percentage of Latinx technical employees, on the other hand, grew by just 0.2 percent. Still, the amount of overall Latinx hires declined from 6.8 percent in 2018 to 6.6 percent in 2019.

Additional findings show little progress for women too. Female employees represented 33.2 percent of global hires in 2018, dipping to 32.5 percent in 2019. In the same time, the number of women hired for technical positions remained stagnant, at about 25.6 percent. Google hired more women for leadership roles though, up by 0.6 percent. 

Though the data show otherwise, Google has launched small initiatives in an effort to achieve gender parity. For example, job postings run through its bias removal tool resulted in an 11 percent increase in applications from women.

The report also includes attrition rates; in 2019, Latinx attrition in the US reached below the Google average while women continued to have an inferior attrition rate. Attrition grew significantly for black women while it was highest for Native Americans.

The percentage of Native American employees in leadership positions dropped by 0.2 percent.

Globally, women represented 40 percent of interns in tech roles, and blacks and Latinx represented 24 percent of US interns.

Google attributes its “recent progress” to equipping leaders with workforce data and managers who work closely with the company’s diversity experts to identity opportunities that align with its company-wide objective to “advance a diverse, accessible, and inclusive Google.”

Google admits it has work to do to increase underrepresented talent in its workforce, which is why it’s also collecting race and ethnicity data worldwide through a voluntary self ID campaign.

Nike’s ‘Don’t Do It’ Anti-Racism Ad Receives Mixed Reviews

Nike released a 60-second video spot urging people not to turn their backs on racism as nationwide protests decrying police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery erupted. In a play on its renowned slogan, Nike titled the video, “For once, Don’t Do It,” posting it across its social channels, with the hashtag #UntilWeAllWin.

The text-only video features seven pithy statements appearing in white text against a black backdrop, including “Don’t accept innocent lives being taken from us” and “Don’t sit back and be silent.” The video ends with the call-to-action: “Let’s all be part of the change.”

Since Nike posted the video at 7 p.m. ET on Friday, May 29, on Twitter it has received 6.7 million views, 210,000 likes and 100,000 retweets. On Instagram, it’s been viewed nearly 14 million times.

In a statement, Nike told CNN, “We hope that by sharing this film we can serve as a catalyst to inspire action against a deep issue in our society and encourage people to help shape a better future.”

Nike has a long history of highlighting its stand on social issues. In 2017, it launched an equality campaign titled “EQUALITY,” to encourage people to speak out on causes important to Nike athletes and employees including diversity and inclusion. The campaign was accompanied by a monochrome film and a $5 million donation to organizations advancing equality across the US.

In 2018, Nike unveiled a two-minute video spot narrated by former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to show its support of athletes who were protesting racial inequality and police brutality by kneeling during the national anthem.

However, Nike’s most recent anti-racism ad has drawn mixed reviews, sparking criticism on social media. While the video received praise from some celebrities, like rapper Travis Scott, one user lambasted Nike for the lack of diversity at its company. For example, Cindy Gallop tweeted:

One user shared a video showing protesters looting Nike’s store, in response to which another user responded: “Believe in something, even if it means getting looted.”

Another user trashed Nike for its labor practices: “My head is about to explode from the irony of the fact that Nike uses literal slave labor. But hey it’s a problem outside America, so I guess it’s fine to ‘sit back and be silent’ about it.”

LG Names New Head Of Marketing For North America

This week in leadership updates, LG Electronics NA names a new head of marketing, Visa appoints Chris Newkirk as chief strategy officer, the University of Massachusetts Amherst names Claudia Donald as interim CMO, PayPal’s Allison Johnson steps down, New York Public Radio hires Ayesha Ahmad as CMO and Panera brings on Eduardo Luz as chief brand and concept officer.

LG Electronics North America Has A New Head Of Marketing

Peggy Ang will be replacing the retiring David VanderWaal as LG Electronics North America’s head of marketing. VanderWaal spent the last 13 years with LG and most recently served as SVP of marketing, a position he took in 2018.

Ang spent the past two years as division VP of brand marketing for mobile communications, LG Electronics USA. She joined LG back in 2016 as head of brand marketing for home appliances. Prior to her time at LG she held senior brand and marketing positions at Samsung and Sony Electronics, among others.

Visa Hires Chris Newkirk As Chief Strategy Officer

Effective June 15, Chris Newkirk will join Visa in the newly created role of chief strategy officer to drive strategy planning for the company overall.

Newkirk has held various leadership roles at Capital One since 2008. Most recently, he served as the president of Small Business, International & Walmart Partnership.

Prior to Capital One, Newkirk held leadership roles at IndyMac Bank and McKinsey & Company.

University Of Massachusetts Amherst Names Claudia Donald As Interim Chief Marketing Officer

UMass Amherst has named Claudia Donald as interim CMO. Since 2014, Donald has served as the university’s executive director of digital marketing and online communications.

In her new role, Donald will oversee the Marcom Group, which provides a suite of services including branding, advertising, web services and analytics.

PayPal Chief Marketing Officer Allison Johnson Steps Down

PayPal CMO Allison Johnson is stepping down due to the company’s current restructuring and streamlining of its marketing department under one cohesive function, as reported by Adweek.

Johnson joined PayPal in January 2019 after founding a marketing and venture capital studio called West. Johnson served as president of worldwide marketing communications for Apple from 2005 to 2011.

New York Public Radio Hires Ayesha Ahmad As Chief Marketing Officer

New York Public Radio, the parent company of radio stations WNYC, WQXR, WNYC Studios, the Gothamist and The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space, has named Ayesha Ahmad as CMO.

Ahmad joins NY Public Radio from Chilewich, where she was chief digital officer and general manager of ecommerce.

Panera Bread Names Eduardo Luz As Chief Brand And Concept Officer

Panera has appointed Eduardo Luz as its new chief brand and concept officer. Luz joins Panera less than a year after becoming CEO of 8Greens and after six years as US CMO and global brand officer of Kraft Heinz.

Pearson Appoints Alexa Christon To CMO Position

Global learning company Pearson has promoted Alexa Christon to the role of chief marketing officer, effective immediately. Christon, who can be heard hosting the ADLANDIA podcast, served as SVP of brand for the past year.

Pearson’s press release announcing Christon’s new role notes her involvement in previous companies, including serving as “head of media innovation at GE, and guiding clients including Yahoo, Pepsi-Cola, and Time-Warner Cable while on the agency side.”

What We’re Reading–Week Of May 25th

We’re searching for the most pressing marketing insights this week. Updated daily.

Campaign Planning: Rolling With The Punches


Programmatic associate director at Croud, Connie Del Bono, says while planning privacy-compliant campaigns, it’s important for brands to work closely with all partners to ensure they collect a minimal amount of personally identifiable data, adapt personalization approaches based on segmentation of users who may be more receptive to personalization, implement frequency management and leverage contextual targeting, which can lead to more interested potential prospects. 

Why it matters: COVID has added another array of challenges to campaign planning, requiring marketers to take a fluid and agile approach to creating a robust campaign.

Instant Messaging Will Reach 4.3B Users In 2020

Mobile Marketer

The number of people who use instant messaging will increase nine percent to 4.3 billion in 2020, according to a new forecast from Juniper Research. Additionally, the number of smartphones equipped with rich communication services (RCS) technology will rise 45 percent to more than 740 million in 2020.

Why it matters: Juniper advises marketers not to wait for RCS to hit the mainstream and to develop strategies specific to instant messaging, which will require efforts in enhancing digital payment options.

Some Brands Have Been Caught Off Guard


COVID-19 has hit travel, retail and hospitality hard while food delivery, alcohol and porn are thriving. For some companies that operate within the same industry, that isn’t the case—Chipotle remains unscathed and Tesla is worth the same as it was pre-pandemic. 

Why it matters: Community, heritage, design and beliefs work when you’re selling alcohol, luxury goods, cars and clothing given these purchases are social in nature. In addition, some CEOs tend to overestimate how unique they are. Whether customers care if your company lives or dies after the pandemic depends on how much they value you.

The Top 5 Creative Brand Ideas You Need To Know About Right Now: May 27, 2020

Ad Age

A group of creatives launched a community-driven advertising school taught by industry execs for aspiring creatives over the course of 12 weeks. Reddit users can access the lessons and assignments once the course wraps.

Among other top creative brand ideas, Walmart turned a poem written by one of its employees into a mixed-media sport that honors its team members; Burger King released a campaign around its Whopper stuffed with extra onions to encourage social distancing; WorkinProgress tapped teachers around the country to contribute to mini virtual lessons that are being displayed on digital signs around the US and Ajinomoto tackled anti-Asian racism with a video campaign featuring celebrities calling out racist acts driven by COVID.

Why it matters: Brands continue crafting ads around COVID sensitivities despite recent studies that reveal consumers are ready to hear from brands about non-COVID related topics.

Brand Safety Best Practices During An Evolving News Cycle: Experts Share Insights On Brand Safety Measures Amid Covid-19 Crisis

The Drum

Misconceptions about content blocking are making it hard for brands to monetize this type of content and in turn, engage audiences during COVID.

Why it matters: Brands and agencies are working much closer to address complacency about brand safety, which as a result of the pandemic has required more sophisticated controls that enable brands to balance protection and reach.

Brand, Measurement, And Insights With NerdWallet CMO Kelly Gillease

During this 209th episode of “Marketing Today,” I interview Kelly Gillease, chief marketing officer at NerdWallet.

Today, we talk a lot about Gillease’s experience, which spans about twenty years in startups, travel, EdTech, and search, as well as supporting some of the acquisitions of those startups. We also talk about NerdWallet’s venture into using big mass media advertising like TV and brand-building efforts and how she did that. We also highlight Gillease’s background and some of the unique things that she’s done in her life and her dual degree in both English and economics from UC Berkeley.

Gillease discusses how addressing the public’s lack of trust in personal finance companies is a big challenge for Fintech. Providing the best financial advice to establish that trust is how NerdWallet approached mass marketing. Gillease notes the drawbacks of performance marketing when she says, “performance marketing is really limited by demand for the category.” As Gillease shares what her team learned from the research that went into the “Money Questions” campaign, she reflects, “Everybody at different income levels, whether you’re well off or just barely making it, gets upset about money.” Understanding that emotional connection is essential to the NerdWallet brand, which emphasizes optimism. This interview highlights Gillease’s commitment to positive, impactful marketing that helps people address their everyday problems.

Highlights from this week’s “Marketing Today”:

  • The American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. 01:21
  • Kelly’s double degree in English and Economics. 04:37
  • The initial challenges of her job when she joined NerdWallet. 07:07
  • Kelly’s experience with mass media advertising. 10:11
  • How Kelly’s team approached mass marketing. 13:39
  • The impact brand efforts had on their business. 15:34
  • The “Turn to the Nerds” campaign. 19:39
  • The learning plan around the “Money Questions” campaign. 22:40
  • The research behind the “Money Questions” campaign. 26:32
  • NerdWallet’s response to coronavirus. 28:29
  • Is there an experience in her past that defines who she is today? 31:51
  • What is the advice Kelly would give to her younger self? 33:26
  • The most impactful purchase she has made in the last 6-12 months of $100 or less. 36:53
  • Are there any brands, companies, or causes that Kelly follows that she thinks other people should take notice of? 38:29
  • Kelly’s take on the top opportunities or threats facing marketers today. 41:15

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Alan B. Hart is the creator and host of “Marketing Today with Alan Hart,” a weekly podcast where he interviews leading global marketing professionals and business leaders. Alan advises leading executives and marketing teams on opportunities around brand, customer experience, innovation, and growth. He has consulted with Fortune 100 companies, but he is an entrepreneur at his core, having founded or served as an executive for nine startups.