Under Armour CMO out after just 15 months
- Under Armour Global CMO Andrew Donkin and Pam Catlett, senior VP and general manager of women's and youth, are leaving the company by mutual agreement following rough third-quarter earnings earlier this week, as reported by Ad Age. The Wall Street Journal first broke the news of Donkin's departure.
- A spokesperson told Ad Age via email that the two executives would depart the company later this month. Donkin joined the brand just 15 months ago after spending four years with Amazon as head of worldwide mass and brand marketing.
- Kantar Media data cited by Ad Age said Under Armour spent $10.8 million on measured media in the U.S. in 2016, but quarterly revenue dropped 5% to $1.4 billion in Q3 — the first decline since the brand went public in 2005. On the Q3 earnings call, CEO Kevin Plank told analysts the company was disappointed about its financial performance this year and pointed to the hyper-competitive athleisure space. Poor Q3 results caused Under Armour stock to drop more than 20% on Tuesday, per Ad Age.
The chief marketer position continues to be one that's incredibly volatile as brands face mounting demands to innovate and overcome digital disruption. Donkin's quick departure from Under Armour — coming just a little over a year after signing on — underscores some of those challenges, and are interesting in that he likely brought over a lot of e-commerce expertise from Amazon. Research from the firm Spencer Stuart published in March found the average tenure for CMOs is now just 42 months, sitting below other roles in the C-suite.
Under Armour operates in an especially tight retail category that includes Nike, Adidas, Lululemon and potentially Amazon, which Bloomberg reported earlier this month is making a move into private-label sportswear. The brand has frequently attempted to adjust to these headwinds this year, telling investors in August that it intended to shed about 2% of its workforce as part of a broader restructuring plan. Shuffling in the C-suite points to more dramatic changes at the company and how it might seriously be realigning its marketing strategy to re-spark growth.
It's been praised in the past for offering comprehensive fitness and meal planning programs, offering lifestyle options on top of its more straightforward consumer marketing. A number of other players in the athletic apparel space have since started to prop up similar strategies, including Asics, which last month unveiled a new brand platform with the DJ Steve Aoki.
Under Armour also has notable athlete ambassadors including the Golden State Warriors's Stephen Curry and ballet dancer Misty Copeland. The company hasn't been free from controversy this year, however, as comments made by Plank in February were perceived to support President Donald Trump, drawing the ire of both Curry and Copeland and causing the executive to walk back his position.
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