Being Instinct-Led And Data-Supported With Jay Livingston, CMO At Shake Shack

Jay Livingston is not only a great CMO but also an active angel investor, executive producer, and founding member of Unite America. No matter what he is doing, storytelling is always the underlying theme.

In this episode, Jay and I discuss the importance of the CMO vibing with the CEO, why he loves working with “passion brands” that have a good origin story, and the unique benefit of overseeing product, pricing, digital experience, and marketing at Shake Shack. Jay tells us how Shake Shack is living out its mission to “stand for something good” by being an “instinct-led and data-supported” business that partners with local leaders to maintain authenticity while scaling globally.

 In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • How Jay and Shake Shack weave purpose into everything they do
  • What makes the CMO role at Shake Shack so unique
  • How Shake Shack is delivering hospitality through digital channels

 Key Highlights

  • [01:55] The common thread that connects all of Jay’s interests
  • [04:15] Jay’s mid-career sabbatical
  • [06:30] The criteria Jay looked for in his ideal CMO role
  • [08:05] Shake Shack’s origin story
  • [09:50] How Jay got connected to Shake Shack
  • [11:20] How this CMO role is different than other CMO roles
  • [15:05] How Shake Shack is maintaining its local relevance while scaling globally
  • [16:50] The data function of the culinary side and guest preferences
  • [19:10] Digital efforts – where Shake Shack started and where they are today
  • [22:40] The team behind the CMO
  • [23:25] The career path vs. the career meadow
  • [25:15] Jay’s investment thesis
  • [27:25] The importance of curiosity
  • [31:00] Why Jay advises going wide with your interests

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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 brand, customer experience, innovation, and growth opportunities. He has consulted with Fortune 100 companies but is an entrepreneur at his core, having founded or served as an executive for nine companies.

The Data Of Decision Making With Greg Dolan, CEO At Keen Decision Systems

Greg Dolan has over a decade of experience as a brand marketing executive. He co-founded Keen to give marketers a tool that could “help them make smarter decisions about how to drive their brand forward by using future-focused metrics that are directly tied to financial performance.”

In this episode, Greg and I discuss how Keen’s work impacts marketing performance across the industry, what the data tells us about long-held best practices, and why so many companies are working to strengthen first-party data relationships.

 In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • How companies should think about marketing in a downturn or recession
  • Greg’s take on the reach versus targeting debate and what the data tells us
  • The importance of demonstrating the financial value of a marketing decision

 Key Highlights

  • [01:20] Greg’s other full-time job
  • [02:50] How Greg became CEO at keen
  • [04:00] What Keen does
  • [06:50] Why marketers need to look at performance across all channels
  • [10:20] What should marketers be thinking about when operating in a down economy
  • [15:00] Understanding the objective of the brand and how that frames decision making
  • [15:55] What Keen is seeing with reach versus targeting
  • [17:45] The rise of AI and machine learning in creative and marketing decision making
  • [19:50] What the data says about the 60/40 long-term/short-term rule of thumb
  • [22:55] How Keen is helping marketers transition from direct measurement to inference
  • [25:45] Two examples of why you need to consider diversification in measurements
  • [28:15] How persevering through adversity made Greg a better entrepreneur
  • [30:00] The benefits of slowing down
  • [31:15] Why organizations need to shift to a holistic strategic perspective
  • [35:50] Embracing AI technology to win in the long term
  • [36:50] The need to be able to demonstrate the financial value of  marketing

Resources Mentioned:

 Follow the podcast:

Connect with the Guest:

Connect with Marketing Today and Alan Hart:

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 brand, customer experience, innovation, and growth opportunities. He has consulted with Fortune 100 companies but is an entrepreneur at his core, having founded or served as an executive for nine companies.

Three Trends That Made 2022

Throughout the past year, we’ve collected, synthesized and disseminated over 200 trends to help Ayzenberg Group’s clients understand and navigate the ebbs and flows of today’s ever-changing, culturally–driven media landscape. From fashion fads to technological breakthroughs and from social media crazes to global events, we used various listening tools to identify and flag the greater underlying themes throughout the year. Below we’re sharing three of those standout trends for brand marketers from 2022 including the exponential impact of Generation Z, widespread brand collaborations and TikTok’s takeover of the entertainment world.


With Gen Z reaching adulthood, demographers and marketers are already discussing how this cohort might differ from their predecessors in terms of priorities, behaviors, spending patterns and values. With 68.6 Million individuals, Gen Z is coming of age. They want to be heard and they are bringing their purchasing power with them.

A recent study from Publicis and Vevo showcases how Gen Z mostly engages with TikTok in the morning, YouTube in the afternoon, and content on-demand through connected TV (CTV) services at night. Also, this generation is using TikTok and Instagram for search instead of Google

At a glance, Gen Z is more likely to purchase from brands they follow on social media—free delivery is a major incentive, while coupons and discounts are important—and 26 percent use social media to make purchases. Lastly, Generation Z is socially conscious and this has an impact on what they consume, how they consume it and from whom they are consuming. These behaviors differ from their generational counterparts as Generation Z has grown up with a high level of access to digital devices like computers and smartphones. Now, they have a wealth of knowledge at their fingertips and know how to use it. With sustainability, political support, conservation and community in mind, brands must recognize that this generation demands authenticity and transparency. The best way to adapt to that is to be attentive to the massive changes and meet them where they are, and follow the path of their shifting demographic power.


Collaborations are nothing new, but how they were harnessed in 2022 showcases the power of partnership. The lines between industries blurred, and creatives from different fields worked together to create unique pieces that changed verticals. 

A prime example of this was McDonald’s and Cactus Plant Flea Market. Collaboration between a fast food and fashion brand isn’t something you see every day, but the collaboration brought a buzz to both brands. The collab sold out at most locations, and the toys associated were selling for thousands on eBay. It brought new audiences to Cactus Plant and nostalgia—not to mention people, back to McDonald’s for a surprise and delight. 

Lastly, Duolingo and HBO Max teamed up for their House of The Dragon series to create an app that taught audiences the fantasy language spoken in the show. This activation aided in the show’s record-breaking premiere with 10 million viewers on HBO. Collaboration should be a mutually beneficial experience. Being data-driven and having a pulse on culture set brand collaborations above the rest.


What resonates with Gen Z and what doesn’t? With one-fifth of Generation Z spending more than five hours per day on TikTok and nearly 40% of people in Gen Z saying TikTok videos are where they go to learn about and buy new products, it’s no wonder other apps are swiping at short-form video features, resulting in a sea of ambiguity between platforms as content is shared and reshared.

Short-form videos (long-form now as well) drew people in and kept them there for elongated periods. Gen Z is using the app to search and shop, frequently searching for “hauls,” “reviews,” and more, which fuels the app as a search engine. The searches led to Scrub Daddy, a sponge, being revived, with online store revenue reaching $500,000 because of the app accounts debut. The short video bites allow for funny skits and dances, but also the transmission of trends, opinions, facts and discourse. Lastly, among other things, it helps keep users aware of new music they may otherwise not have found. Songs seeing a resurgence include Wheatus’ Teenage Dirtbag and Kate Bush’s 1985 “Running Up That Hill,” which was popularized again due to Stranger Things, but assuredly helped by TikTok in its ascension of the charts in 2022. 

Other apps like Instagram and YouTube have attempted to duplicate the powerhouse app. Still, both seem to be missing the magic sauce because they are losing the essence of themselves and attempting to duplicate and fit into the confines of one another. The efforts showcase that the best features keep applications afloat. Whether it be the sharability, the endless scroll-like features, or even the simple user tags—and despite the clones—there is really only one TikTok. It infiltrated how we shopped, shared information, found and listened to music and so much more. The mixture of these elements helped create a new social window into the lives of others. No matter what happens next with the app, the long-lasting effects will continue to ripple outward into the greater media ecosystem. 

New CMOs Join Sprouts, McAfee, Hertz And More

We’re taking a look at recent chief marketer appointments at businesses including Sprouts Farmers Market, Starz, McAfee, Hertz and more—as well as a departure at Best Buy.

Alisa Gmelich Appointed New CMO at Sprouts Farmers Market

With more than 25 years of experience in brand development and marketing strategy in the prepared foods market, Alisa Gmelich is set to join the Sprouts Farmers Market team as their new senior vice president and chief marketing officer, leading the company’s marketing, advertising and customer engagement initiatives.

“We’re thrilled to welcome Alisa to the Sprouts team,” President and Chief Operating Officer Nick Konat told The Produce News. “Her experience in building brands and growing customer engagement will be instrumental in shaping Sprouts’ marketing strategy to support our expansion and deepen loyalty with our customers.”

Before taking on this new role for the chain grocer, Gmelich held various marketing positions at Auntie Anne’s, IHOP and Burger King Corp., taking on projects with local and national impact, from directing sales to menu innovation.

“I am extremely humbled to join Sprouts, a brand that I’ve long admired for innovation and purpose,” Gmelich told The Produce News. “Providing communities access to healthy, affordable foods is more important today than ever before, and I look forward to helping the brand connect even further with customers nationwide in meaningful ways with the products they need and desire.”

Best Buy’s Frank Crowson Steps Down As CMO

Earlier this month, Frank Crowson stepped down as Best Buy Co.’s chief marketing officer after working in that capacity for the electronics retailer since May 2020, according to the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. Crowson held a senior executive position at the company for three years prior to becoming CMO, utilizing customer data to help brands tailor their marketing strategies and reach consumers.

“My focus and accomplishments centered around building the Best Buy brand through customer obsession,” Crowson wrote in his LinkedIn profile, “driving traffic through digital, data-driven marketing, and consistently driving profitable growth of retail media.”

Prior to leading Best Buy’s marketing operations, Crowson worked in similar roles at Guitar Center and Target Corp.

Best Buy has yet to announce a replacement, though Chief Customer Officer Allison Peterson is reportedly now in charge of producing “meaningful differentiation and brand love” among the retailer’s customers.

McAfee Corp. Hires Deirdre Findlay as New Senior VP, CMO

McAfee Corp. announced the appointment of industry leader Deirdre Findlay as senior vice president and chief marketing officer earlier this week. The seasoned marketing executive comes to the San Jose-based computer security software company from Condé Nast, where she led marketing efforts for brands including Vogue, Vanity Fair and The New Yorker.

Over the course of a 25-year career, Findlay has worked with several brands, including Google, eBay and Stitch Fix, to expand their digital marketing enterprises, even leading the first integrated brand campaign for the personal styling company.

As McAfee’s new CMO, Findlay will reportedly supervise the company’s worldwide marketing and communication efforts, driving growth and advancing brand reach globally.

“The ability to enjoy life online safely and confidently is made possible because of McAfee,” Findlay said in a company press release. “To be part of this mission-based company and make an impact in the daily aspects of people’s lives globally motivates and inspires me. The need for comprehensive online protection has never been greater. I’m excited by the opportunity to help unlock even more value for our customers and partners by building richer and more immersive experiences with the McAfee brand.”

Wayne Davis To Take On CMO Role At Hertz Global Holdings Inc.

Building on more than 20 years of industry experience, veteran marketing and sales executive Wayne Davis is set to assume the CMO mantle at Hertz Global Holdings Inc. starting Jan. 3, 2023, where he will lead the company’s Hertz, Dollar and Thrifty brands’ marketing strategy.

“Hertz is an iconic brand with unlimited potential,” Davis said in a press release from the vehicle rental company. “I’m excited to get started with a talented marketing team to bring even more breakthrough ideas to the marketplace and connect Hertz with our consumer, corporate and rideshare customers.”

Prior to taking on this new role, Davis worked in marketing, sales and business development across multiple industries, with the last four years spent growing GE Appliences’ Café brand, which reportedly more than tripled in size under his leadership, becoming one of the fastest growing brands in the appliance industry.

“I am delighted to have Wayne join our leadership team at this exciting time for Hertz,” said Stephen Scherr, Hertz CEO. “Wayne’s brand-building experience and expertise in data-driven marketing analytics is a powerful combination, and I am excited about the vision he will bring to Hertz as we transform our business through electrification, shared mobility and a digital-first customer experience.”

Starz Hires Former Netflix Marketing Executive Jimmy Hilburn For CMO Position

Former Netflix marketing executive Jimmy Hilburn recently became Starz’ newest CMO as the network fills various senior positions, including senior vice president of publicity, events and awards and executive vice president of direct-to-consumer. In his new role, Hilburn will reportedly oversee all marketing, media, publicity and creative teams at the company.

Before leaving Netflix, where he worked for more than eight years, Hilburn held senior marketing positions, working on the streamer’s stand-up comedy brand, as well as international originals and several hit shows, including “Bridgerton,” “Ozark” and “Narcos.” Prior to Netflix, Hilburn worked at AMC, where the assisted in launching shows like “Breaking Bad,” “Mad Men” and “The Walking Dead.”

Rhea Ghosh Becomes Cosynd’s First-Ever CMO

Rhea Ghosh will take the lead on all communications initiatives and consumer brand marketing at copyright protection service Cosynd after being promoted to the newly created CMO position. Building on a decade’s worth of experience working with entrepreneurs, brands and creators, Ghosh will also supervise the company’s advocacy initiatives within its partner network, which includes CD Baby, the American Association of Independent Music, the MLC, Repost by SoundCloud, Symphonic Distribution, BookBaby, DiscMakers, AdRev, Soundrop and BeatStars, among others.

Ghosh joined Cosynd in 2020, and prior to that, she was the global head of marketing at Downtown Music Publishing, overseeing all its marketing and communications strategy worldwide.

Additionally, Ghosh also helped launch New York Music Month, an annual festival celebrating music’s impact in the state, as well as Sound Thinking NYC, a program designed to introduce women to careers in the music industry.

“Rhea is a true gem and we are so fortunate to have her take on such a significant role at Cosynd,” said Jessica Sobhraj, CEO of Cosynd. “She is a natural connector, innovator and a real advocate for creators with an impressive track record of meaningful contributions to our industry. Her extraordinary ability to build bridges across communities and generate successful outcomes adds tremendous value for our partners and ultimately the millions of creators that they serve.”

Martin Burke Named Patisserie Valerie CMO

With 15 years of experience marketing hospitality, food service and other fast-moving consumer goods, Martin Burke, former marketing director at Bettys & Taylors of Harrogate, joins Patisserie Valerie and sister brand Bakers + Baristas as their new CMO. Burke will oversee marketing for the company’s stores, tea rooms and cafes across the U.K. and Ireland, as well as its e-commerce platform.

“His impressive marketing track record, expertise in e-commerce and passion for the industry means he is perfectly placed to drive the two brands forward, and we look forward to seeing where this leads us,” Patisserie Valerie and Bakers + Baristas group CEO James Fleming told British Baker.

Before taking on this new role, Burke had worked at Bettys & Taylors of Harrogate for 10 years, handling the brand’s marketing and consumer insights. He’s also held similar positions at Warner Bros. Entertainment and PlayStation.

“I’m looking forward to seeing how we can move in new and exciting directions, not just with our stores, but across our e-commerce channel to deliver innovative and delicious hand-crafted products to our customers nationwide,” Burke told British Baker.

The State Of Retail Fashion Marketing In 2023: Mapping Marketers’ Biggest Opportunities

2023 may represent uncertainty for many industries, but for retail fashion brand marketers, the consumers are still swiping right on sustainable luxury retail brands.

First, The Bad News: Most Fashion Brands Are Not Feeling Too Hopeful

According to The Business of Fashion-McKinsey State of Fashion 2023 Survey, the vast majority—84 percent—of industry executives in fashion expect zero growth or a decline in market conditions in 2023. That’s a significant shift from the 2022 survey when 91 percent of executives predicted market conditions would improve or remain the same. That’s not surprising; Inflation has taken a brutal toll on fashion brands, with the Ukraine conflict complicating European fashion retailers‘ struggles to move products amid a global economic downturn. 

Fast fashion brands like H&M and Zara closed hundreds of stores across eastern Europe due to the conflict, and price hikes didn’t help European consumers return to old-school “retail therapy.” While many fashion brands like Zara and H&M showed sales growth in 2022, most are seeking to cut costs. H&M recently slashed 1500 jobs to meet its savings goal—approximately $190 million—for 2022. According to the survey, about 64 percent of European fashion brand executives expected marketplace conditions to worsen.

According to the report, retailers are also readying themselves for lower spending among the drivers of fast fashion: young people. “We see [younger and less affluent] customers spending much more cautiously on discretionary items and often waiting for promotions before buying,” said Richard A. Hayne, chief executive officer of retail group Urban Outfitters in August 2022.” That’s not surprising, but it could spell trouble for US retail brands that increased the number of discounts offered on products by 36% in 2022 over 2021, per the report. 

With more than 97 percent of survey respondents saying they anticipate the higher cost of goods sold and the costs of selling, including general and administrative expenses, in 2023, further discounts may cut into profit margins. And that’s if they can get budget-conscious consumers shopping. 

“Seventy-six percent of Gen-Z and 79 percent of Millennials reported that they are dipping into their savings, taking on more credit or taking on additional jobs to manage their finances,” the report reads.

According to the report, three-quarters of retail fashion brand executives plan to raise prices to cover costs. This a move that could scare away a critical demographic—Gen Z—who are now looking to sustainable fashion options as cost concerns mount.

The Good News: Sustainability Is So Hot Right Now

According to The Business of Fashion-McKinsey report, retail fashion brands in the sustainability space, or those developing sustainable options, have the best opportunity to capture new audiences. 

According to the report, sustainable clothing options, like resale and clothing rentals, are booming – and new business models are taking hold at brands like Lululemon, Dr. Martens, and Patagonia, among others offering resale in recent years through their own services or third parties.

“Resale revenue is expected to grow to $47 billion by 2025, from $15 billion in 2022—11 times faster than apparel retail overall, albeit from a lower base,” the study reports.

The luxury market is still robust and leading the way in counterintuitive market trends are brands like ThredUp, meeting luxury buyers’ desire for name brands and affordability. Luxury shoppers are the outliers for marketers—driving up luxury brand revenues against inflationary pressure.

“According to McKinsey’s analysis of publicly listed companies, the luxury segment’s top-line grew 27 percent in the first half of 2022, compared to the same period in 2021,” the report states. Luxury groups like LVMH and Kering reported double-digit growth for the first nine months of 2022 and have increased their revenue projections.” 

What It Means For Marketers:

Businesses will likely need to raise prices, and there is a limit to how much discounting is sustainable for retail brands. As retailers face competition from more sustainable alternatives—like digital resale outlets like ThredUp—marketers must be creative in reimagining how they appeal to key demographics like Gen Z. That means getting ahead of the curve and matching marketing strategy to consumer priorities creatively, whether it is through clothing trade-in campaigns designed to get Gen Z back into physical stores or luxury brand sustainable eCommerce.

ANA: The State Of Diversity In Marketing And Advertising In 2022

The marketing and advertising industry is more diverse than ever, according to the Association of National Advertisers. For the fifth year in a row, ANA, the oldest trade association for advertising professionals in the U.S., conducted three separate studies among its members and compiled the results into a report readily available online. While the report concludes that the overall representation of women and ethnic minorities has risen, much work remains to diversify leadership roles in the industry.

Diversity Among Marketers In The U.S.

The first study in the report, referred to as a “diversity benchmark,” breaks down the marketing departments of U.S.-based ANA member companies and features four distinct sections looking at the gender identity, ethnicity, orientation and ability of respondents. The final section of the diversity benchmark, which is presented later on in the report, asks participants to share the ways their companies have worked to increase diversity within their marketing departments, as well as any challenges they have encountered in doing so.

Representing 19,966 marketers in total, 81 companies with marketing departments of all sizes completed this study, the highest ever in the five-year history of the project.

According to the study, approximately two-thirds of employees working in the marketing departments of U.S.-based ANA member companies identify as female, with male-identifying and nonbinary employees making up 32.4 percent and 0.1 percent of the grouping, respectively. The authors note female representation is now at the highest it’s ever been since ANA began tallying diversity data for these annual reports five years ago.

This trend also holds true when looking at the position employees hold at the companies included in the study, though senior roles are much more evenly split among genders. For instance, 84.5 percent of female-identifying employees in the study worked in an administrative, clerical or support capacity, as opposed to 15.4 percent of their male-identifying peers. On the flip side, 55.6 percent of senior employees identified as female while 44.2 percent identified as male.

“Representation of women in the industry overall and in leadership positions continues to be strong,” Bob Liodice, ANA CEO, wrote in the report’s introduction, “and I am happy to tell you that we are finally making strides to improve ethnic diversity.”

Results show the industry is also more ethnically diverse than ever, with increases in Black and Hispanic representation in participating marketing departments nationwide. Out of 19,966 qualifying marketers, a little over 7 percent were reportedly African American/Black, while Asian and Hispanic/Latino workers came in at 10.2 percent and 10.9 percent, respectively.

The study does note, however, that representation for Black and Hispanic people in the industry is still significantly lower than their proportion of the U.S. population. Inversely, Asian representation dipped slightly since last year’s report came out, but Asian representation in the industry remains higher than its proportion of the U.S. population.

As for what jobs they hold, ethnic diversity was much higher among entry-level jobs as opposed to senior leadership positions. The one exception being the administrative level, which was the most diverse.

The report credits a “multicultural” younger U.S. workforce, as well as corporate initiatives to diversify talent pools, as the reasons for the rise in ethnic diversity in entry-level marketing roles, an increase that has been documented in every year of the study.

Finally, the study asked ANA-member companies whether they allowed their employees to self-identify as being either LGBTQ or a person with a disability, and by a large majority, they did. Fifty of the 81 companies surveyed provided workers the opportunity to self-identify as being LGBTQ, while 67 allowed employees to self-identify as being a person with a disability. This was a rather confusing way to present this metric, as the study did not specify how companies allowed employees to “self-identify” as a person with a disability and how those efforts benefited or helped those individuals.

Diversity In The Industry Worldwide

Looking beyond the border, the second study in the report looked at diversity metrics in ANA membership worldwide. Marketers and “marketing solutions providers” at ANA member companies were asked to volunteer and anonymously provide information on their gender, sexual orientation and ethnicity.

The study found that while ethnic diversity has improved and is at an all-time high, ANA’s overall membership remains overwhelmingly white. In addition, 68.3 percent of respondents identified as female, vastly outnumbering their male-identifying counterparts, with similar numbers reported in the last four studies.

As for sexual orientation, gay, lesbian, bisexual and “other” representation has risen since last year, though heterosexuals account for 92.6 percent of the 22,916 responses to this question. However, it should be noted that while the “other” category includes anthrosexual, asexual, demisexual and pansexual identities, it also includes “transsexual,” conflating sexual orientation and gender identity when they’re separate and distinct concepts. Not only that, but the term has been overwhelmingly rejected by the transgender community, and its usage is discouraged by several media organizations, including GLADD and NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists, both of which offer glossaries on LGBTQ+ terminology to help everyone avoid making this mistake.

Diversity Among Industry Leaders

The third and final study included in ANA’s diversity report looks at the profile of chief marketing officers and their equivalents at 931 of the organization’s member companies. According to the latest numbers, 57.3 percent of top marketers identify as female, a percentage that has risen each year since counting began in 2018.

Ethnic diversity among CMOs and their equivalents has slowly crept up to 14.6 percent, up from 13 percent five years ago, with African Americans/Blacks comprising 5 percent, Asians 5.8 percent and Hispanics/Latinos 3.8 percent of ANA member companies CMOs.

Actionable Plans To Improve Diversity

Respondents in the U.S.-centered diversity benchmark were also asked to identify practices that have helped their companies to improve diversity within their marketing departments, as well as any challenges they faced. The feedback they received spans several topics, including talent recruitment and retention; diversity, equity and inclusion strategy; external engagement and multicultural marketing; and brand recognition.

In the case of DEI, respondents’ recommendations include asking companies to listen to associates to help identify equity and inclusion needs, as well as launch diversity councils comprising employees from varying genders, races and job functions that meet regularly with executives and talent and marketing teams to strategize on how to attract, retain and develop diverse talent. Respondents also recommend expanding DEI efforts to include supplier diversity, the creation of business resource groups and community outreach.

As for success stories, the biggest takeaways seem to be that true progress is made when companies set clear DEI goals that can be tracked and measured long-term, as well as hold senior leadership accountable for building diversity in their organization, with some even going as far as requiring leaders to have at least one diversity and inclusion objective as part of their annual performance goals.

When it comes to ensuring a diverse slate of candidates, respondents said their companies employed a variety of strategies, from requiring a percentage of candidates interviewed come from minority groups to relaxing degree requirements in job descriptions. Internships also played a vital role in attracting diverse talent, with companies launching training programs allowing interns to explore different departments, as well as ensuring that internships are fully paid and cover living expenses, so as to not price anyone out. Some companies also host internship programs for students at the high school, undergraduate and graduate levels, as well as partner with diverse student organizations and historically Black colleges and universities.

Executive mentorship played a huge role in retaining diverse talent, according to respondents, with some companies maintaining a pipeline that moves diverse talent to “destination roles” rapidly, while others had programs to drive advancement opportunities for individuals from minority groups, including female and LGBTQ+ employees.

On the flip side, numerous responses called out the geographic location of their company as a huge obstacle to recruiting younger and more diverse candidates. This was a bigger challenge for companies in rural areas, especially those that hadn’t embraced remote work. In response, one company even moved its marketing department to a larger metro area, which reportedly helped boost the recruitment of diverse talent.

Click here to read the report in its entirety, including a case study with Citigroup Inc. tracking the work they’ve done to diversify their staff of more than 220,000 workers worldwide, as well as links to case studies from past years featuring Verizon, IBM, General Mills, Kimberly-Clark and more.

Equinox, Lightspeed, Integral Ad Science Name New CMOs; Former Glossier CMO Becomes Chief Executive At Loop

This week, we track new hires at Equinox, Lightspeed and Integral Ad Science as the companies fill chief marketing officer roles, as well as the journey of a CMO taking over the CEO position at Loop.

Jeff De Korte Appointed New CMO at Equinox

Luxury fitness company Equinox has brought Jeff De Korte on board as their new chief marketing officer. De Korte, who has racked up 25 years of experience as an executive in the travel and hospitality industry, is filling the role left behind by Peter Giorgi, who had held the role since April 2021.

He joins the company as Equinox sets its sights on expanding its offerings beyond fitness, providing a space for members to spend time in between work and home. According to De Korte, the way members use the clubs has changed since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and, therefore, in his new role, he will build a marketing and communications program that will allow members to use the clubs in the “best ways they need to or want to.”

Building on his experience working for Caesars Entertainment, which holds hospitality, entertainment, gaming, retail and other brands, De Korte will lead all marketing strategy development for Equinox Fitness Clubs and Equinox Media, as well as the marketing execution for Equinox’s physical and digital brands.

“If you look at the core tenets of the Equinox business — the club experience, our personal training, our classes, our retail — these are all independently, really strong businesses. A lot of our focus going forward will be [about], ‘How do we put together a plan that continues to grow each of those businesses while leveraging the Equinox brand that sits on top of them?” De Korte told Women’s Wear Daily.

Kady Srinivasan Joins Lightspeed As New CMO

Former Dropbox and Klaviyo executive Kady Srinivasan joins Lightspeed Commerce as their new CMO following a tumultuous year full of change for the e-commerce software provider.

Filling the role of chief marketing officer was the “last big piece” missing, according to CEO JP Chauvet, as the company continues to restructure its executive team following the departure of Dax Dasilva, its founder and former CEO, back in February. The position appears to have been vacant for some time; Srinivasan is taking over the role from Lory Ajamian, who worked at Lightspeed as executive vice president of marketing before leaving the company in April.

“I look forward to bringing my tech industry marketing experience to advancing Lightspeed’s position as one of the world’s most innovative and fast-growing commerce companies,” Srinivasan told Betakit. “I can’t wait to get started.”

Ali Weiss Appointed CEO at Loop

Former Glossier Inc. CMO Ali Weiss has been hired by baby equipment rental company Loop Co. to be its new chief executive officer—taking the reins from Henry Vogel, the company’s founder. Operating out of New York City and San Francisco—though plans to expand are in the works—Loop lets paying members rent cribs, toys and other baby gear.

“Our vision is that we’re able to provide this service across many markets, many cities, many metro areas across the U.S.,” Weiss told The Wall Street Journal.

According to Weiss, parents mindful of their clutter and environmental impact will see the appeal of a Loop membership, as baby gear and toys “have very long useful lives in the world, but pretty short useful lives at home because children are growing and changing so quickly.” Therefore, she said, the company sees a hole in the market, where the company can begin to offer products for older children.

Weiss had worked as CMO of Glossier for seven years before leaving the beauty company in July. Weiss said her experience at a fast-growing startup has prepared her for this new role at Loop. “Ultimately, the best CMOs are intrinsically consumer-centric,” she said. “They make all their decisions … consumer-first, customer-first. For us at Loop, it’s member-first.”

Integral Ad Science Names Khurrum Malik New CMO

Integral Ad Science announced today that Khurrum Malik, former head of global business marketing at Spotify, has joined the company as its new CMO effective immediately. As a leader in technology marketing with experience in public and private companies, IAS said Malik will lead its global marketing strategy and boost its market growth initiatives.  

“Khurrum’s impressive background and passion for technology and marketing will be instrumental to driving our go-to-market strategies and increasing awareness of our value proposition,” said Yannis Dosios, chief commercial officer at IAS. “We are excited for him to lead the marketing effort for IAS.”  

Malik also has CMO experience from his time at Compass, a real estate technology platform, as well Meta, where he was head of product marketing.   

“… I look forward to working with the entire IAS team to ensure global marketers, publishers, and media platforms understand how best to leverage our technology and insights to activate brand-safe and ROI-driven campaigns,” Malik said. 

What Marketers Can Learn From Balenciaga’s Wild Q4

From dropping YE to dropping a $25 million lawsuit against North Six, Balenciaga’s marketing saga has some important lessons for brand marketers.

Lesson One: Influencers’ Power Goes Both Ways

When Balenciaga ended its collaboration with Kanye West (now known as Ye), it was the first company to do so after the musician’s controversial comments launched a firestorm of controversy. Their previous work together—which included the rapper opening the brand’s Summer 2023 show—had placed Ye at the core of the brand’s new marketing ethos, which has highlighted diverse and avant-garde artists such as Ikeuchi Hiroto and attempted to appeal to younger demographics with a 3D Fortnite digital billboard collaboration. Gen Z is a core demographic for Balenciaga, with luxury consignment platform TheRealReal reporting that the brand showing the greatest increase in demand among shoppers was Balenciaga, with a 41 percent gain. 

Despite inflation, luxury brand sales—including Balenciaga’s—have been surging online and in flagship stores, and Gen Z shoppers are predicted to drive luxury goods sales growth from now until 2035. That means a misstep with an influencer can do more than compromise brand values; it can alienate a key demographic likely to be critical to long-term growth. In that sense, influencers have enormous power over the brands they represent. Consumers assume that marketers complete due diligence before establishing a relationship with a celebrity. That can cost brands audience loyalty, especially with Gen Z, 68 percent of whom believe celebrities should face the consequences for harmful statements or actions.

Lesson Two: Brand Affinity Only Lasts Until Your Next Tormented Teddy

“I want to personally reiterate my sincere apologies for the offence [sic] caused and take my responsibility,” stated Balenciaga CEO and president Cédric Charbit in a statement on Instagram. “At Balenciaga, we stand together for children’s safety and do not tolerate any kind of violence and hatred message.”

That message from Charbit regarding Balenciaga’s controversial campaign featuring, among other things, a sad-faced toddler displayed on a bed next to Balenciaga accessories and a dollar store shopping bag, came after the company dropped its lawsuit against the agency that developed the campaign. The campaign’s furor was not simply directed at the content of the images but also at the fact that it skated very close to real issues of vulnerable people, including children, who are regularly bought and sold online using social media, per the BBC.

After initially announcing plans to investigate the incident and sue the creative agency attached, the brand issued a statement on Instagram detailing its plans to review “[each] concept from ideation to final assets.”

Lesson 3: Build Back Smarter—Not Just Better

While Olivia Pope on ABC’s Scandal used a mix of black hat and white hat tactics to repair individuals’ PR disasters, brands can’t really take a shortcut to brand reputation redemption. Companies that earn hundreds of millions per year don’t seem credible when they shift blame to forces (or agencies) beyond their control. Successful brand marketers know that the brand will be held responsible for all of it—from concept to execution—even if dozens of people (or only one) take a look at the final product. But saying sorry and promising to be better is not enough. Consumers want to know this was a lesson, not a fluke. That means presenting a pathway to change and a map showing how the snafu happened and why it won’t happen again. Change means structure, steps, and safeguards—something Balenciaga outlines in their post. It won’t help readers unsee those scared preschoolers, but it’s a start.

YouGov’s 2022 Best Brands Report Shows Notable Absences From Top 10

Amazon and Nike are two of the biggest absences on YouGov’s annual Best Brands list, derived from a survey of thousands of consumers.

Samsung focuses on user experience and rises in rank; Amazon and Nike exit list

Samsung, which also ranks in the top 5 on Interbrand’s Best Global Brands List, is now number one on YouGov’s latest brand value report. According to the company, the brand invested in making its products more amenable to connected experiences through partnerships with Google and Microsoft, providing consumers with new gaming experiences, and ensuring stable supplies for next-generation applications to avoid supply chain delays that impact customer experience. 

The brands on YouGov’s annual Best Brands list are ranked based on YouGov BrandIndex’s Index score, which the company states is “a measure of overall brand health calculated by taking the average of Impression, Quality, Value, Satisfaction, Recommend and Reputation.” The Index Rankings chart shows the brands with the highest average Index scores between September 28, 2021, and September 27, 2022. 

Last year, the top five were dominated by digital brands: Google, Samsung, Netflix, YouTube, and WhatsApp comprised the top five. That reflected different times—tech, streaming, and social media brands had not yet begun the intermittent periods of volatility and dramatic slide in stock market values when the 2021 survey was completed in September of that year. Those stock market values have an explicit connection to how consumers interact and assess their user experience with digital brands, as well as how readily they are signing up for (or abandoning) subscriptions.

YouGov’s top 10 brands in 2021:

Source: YouGov – ‘Google, Samsung And Netflix Top YouGov’s Global Best Brands Rankings 2021’

Brands fighting challenges on all fronts, while customers look for deals and the right overall experience

By late October 2022, a Q3 drop in big tech share values reflected warnings from tech giants, including Amazon about consumers’ hesitant spending. But YouGov’s metrics measure consumer satisfaction—not just general sentiments around a brand. Recently, Amazon’s customer satisfaction hit an all-time low, with the company’s consumer experience ratings lagging behind Nordstrom and Costco in one major survey by The American Customer Service Index. In YouGov’s latest Best Brand survey, Amazon is absent. 

Source: YouGov’s ‘Global Best Brand Rankings 2022’

Another standout absence is Nike. While the company posted an increase in sales in Q3, earlier global supply chain issues have impacted Nike, which boasts 95 percent brand awareness and 90 percent brand loyalty, per Statista. Slow shipping times impact consumers’ user experiences, and even when it isn’t a brand’s purview, customers can associate those failures with the brand’s value. Per a March press statement, Nike revealed that it has overcome previous supply chain issues related to the closure of half of its factories in Vietnam and was able to produce at pre-closure capacity. While amping up production to meet customer demand may have helped alleviate one end of the supply-chain issue, transit times for retail goods have still been erratic in the US in 2022—and this can impact consumer satisfaction and consumers’ patience with retailers.  

For example, a recent survey revealed that 65 percent of shoppers polled stated they will abandon shopping with a retailer altogether after two or three late deliveries. Another 81 percent stated that if a retailer sends an incorrect order two or three times, they will also abandon shopping with that retailer altogether.

Brand loyalty aside, in times of economic uncertainty, consumers tend to reevaluate their purchasing habits and focus on affordability, value, and user experience. All three elements are important to shoppers as their lifestyle needs change and they are faced with a range of shopping alternatives, such as resellers offering the same or lookalike brands with faster shipping. This may make it harder for legacy brands to maintain customer loyalty when external issues—like shipping delays—tamper with user experience.

Download the entire report here.

FIFA And Friends? How Marketers Can Navigate Controversy And Brand Risk

Some of the world’s most iconic brands are also the most openly supportive of LGBTQ equality. However, some brands’ recent sponsorship of the 2022 World Cup held in Qatar has put the authenticity of their commitment into doubt, adding an extra burden to marketers seeking to promote their brands as the real thing.

Friends of FIFA? How Qatar changed the game for marketers

You wouldn’t guess it from the current controversy, but Qatar was chosen as the site of the 2022 World Cup back in 2010, competing against Japan, Australia, and The United States of America. Back then, the US State Department report about Qatar stated that while it was not a democracy, it didn’t see evidence of rampant torture or prisoner maltreatment – with the asterisk that citizens were likely to be “hesitant” to make complaints. The US has an embassy in Qatar and the nation has been a regional strategic ally of the US for decades, so brands snapping up sponsorships for the 2022 World Cup back in the day should not be surprising. In the US, the Defense of Marriage Act—which allowed same-gender marriages to be outlawed by states—would not meet a successful challenge in the courts until 2011, so brands are unlikely to have been thinking about Qatar’s LGBTQ rights status as an element of brand risk. Hyundai jumped in as an official sponsor through FIFA in 2010.

Back then, Hyundai stated in a press release:

“Since our first association with FIFA in 1999, our commitment and support for FIFA has been unrivaled,” said Mong-Koo Chung, Chairman and CEO of the Hyundai Motor Group. “FIFA has set a benchmark for us, pushing our brand value and exposure to the highest levels. We are confident that this renewal will further enhance our business values and corporate vision.”

Today, ESG is a key component of brand risk assessment and social media’s immediacy means that audiences in the millions have access to reports about human rights and other issues in Qatar. That means that being a friend to FIFA via sponsorship can comingle brand reputations with regions or nations that have policies that contradict brand values. Despite the State Department’s ongoing partnership with Qatar—the country even sits on the UN Human Rights Council—the country outlaws premarital sex, adultery, and same-sex intercourse and has a range of punishments ranging from flogging to years of imprisonment to death by stoning, according to Human Rights Watch.

That has led to some media analysts questioning just how brand marketers can navigate a landscape that demands authenticity in its social commitments but practicality when it comes to audience reach (the last World Cup Final was watched by 1.12 billion people) and return on investment for sponsor dollars. In “The Money Behind The Most Expensive World Cup in History”, Forbes’ Matt Craig details just how much cash is on the line:

$277 million, the amount David Beckham was reportedly paid by Qatar to serve as an ambassador for the 2022 World Cup, delivered in installments over ten years.

$4.7 billion: FIFA’s predicted revenue from the World Cup, encompassing TV broadcast rights account for $2.64 billion and marketing rights $1.35 billion, with ticket sales and hospitality rights adding $500 million.

That places marketers and their agencies right in the middle: forced to somehow navigate the brand risks involved in a done deal while ensuring that brand messaging stays visible.

3 ways brands can recover from co-mingled controversy with a little help from marketers

Not every brand can quickly disconnect from brand partnerships or sponsorships that present ethical concerns. Whether jumping ship or staying the course despite all, here are three tips for reaffirming brand values when circumstances make their expression challenging:

Let the audience do the talking

Audiences who feel passionately about social issues and who connect with brand values can be powerful ambassadors for a business and ideas. Leveraging social media and user-generated content campaigns to empower fans to speak their truths and support brand values can be a meaningful act of support (or resistance).

Make a list and check it twice

Review ESG achievements and make sure that they delivered on their promises before tooting the proverbial horn about commitment to values. When positive change is authentic and sustained, it can speak louder than words—even when temporary alliances are problematic.

Build an acceleration map for good

Aligning with human rights issues during a designated month can be seen as a marketing ploy no different than a holiday-themed store window unless those values are connected to a plan to do good more efficiently and faster than before. Create a clear map as to what your brand will attempt to do to support your values, even if it is a small, local effort.