- Melanie Boulden is departing as Reebok's chief global marketer and head of brand management after just over a year, according to The Drum. She is leaving for a new role as president and general manager of The Coca-Cola Company's Venturing & Emerging Brands (VEB) division, a job that begins Aug. 5, per an internal memo obtained by Bevnet.
- Reebok said Boulden's decision was partially driven by her desire to be closer to her family, The Drum reported. In her new role, Boulden will report to Coca-Cola North America President Jim Dinkins and will oversee VEB's efforts to invest in entrepreneurs, companies, new products and technologies.
- Matt Blonder, previously Reebok's global head of digital, will take over for Boulden, but under a new title: vice-president of marketing and digital brand commerce, according to The Drum. A Reebok spokesperson told The Drum that the transition won't affect the brand's marketing and communication strategy.
Reebok is losing its top marketer during a key transitional period, as the athletic apparel maker attempts to refresh its image and win over critical young audiences like Gen Z and millennials. On that front, Reebok launched a global campaign in March, "Sport the Unexpected," that leans into '90s nostalgia and oddball humor — a break from the marketer's typically sports- and performance-focused messaging.
The campaign touching across digital, social and traditional media integrations was the first to be led by Boulden since she joined Reebok in April 2018. Those duties will now likely be handled by Blonder, who has been frank about the brand's previous marketing misfires. In April, he told our sister site Retail Dive that Reebok's prior digital strategy "was embarrassing," being too focused on moodiness and hyper masculinity.
Reebok has in recent years had to grapple with a surge in athletic apparel and athleisure competition. The company has accordingly diversified its offerings to keep up with the category. Earlier this week, for example, it introduced a maternity collection for new and expecting mothers.
Boulden's sudden departure could sting Reebok from an optics perspective, and reinforces the pressures impacting the CMO and similar roles as growth and sales become a bigger priority versus traditional branding and creative ideas. CMOs and their peers generally have short tenures, though a year still lands far behind the average.
The most recent annual analysis by executive research firm Spencer Stuart found that chief marketing officers' tenure at the top 100 U.S. advertisers has fallen by a month to 43 months compared to 2018. CMOs are also in some cases being replaced by chief growth officers or equivalent roles.
Reebok isn't alone in losing marketing leadership this year. Ride-haling rivals Uber and Lyft both parted ways with recently appointed marketing chiefs not long after respective company debuts on the public marketers. Unilever saw long-time CMO Keith Weed retire in May, and the CPG giant now plans to rejigger the position. Last week, John & Jonson's consumer division split with its first-ever CMO Alison Lewis amid a broader cost-cutting push. The company has no plans to replace her.
From its Stranger Things sneakers to its '90s-themed collections and campaigns, Reebok is still trying to find a footing with younger consumers. It remains to be seen whether the transition from Boulden to Blonder will result in seamless marketing execution.