Q&A: Veteran UFC Marketer on Bringing Her A-Game to Canada Goose as Its New CMO

Plus, new retail locations and collaborating with celebs

Some people's idea of adventure is making a bold career move. Others like to plunge into the rugged outdoors. Jackie Poriadjian-Asch has done both.

CMO Jackie Poriadjian-Asch

Last month, after nine years with Ultimate Fighting Championship (the bloody dynasty of mixed-martial arts), Poriadjian-Asch took the CMO's job at Canada Goose, the 59-year-old company famed for its costly (and lately quite trendy) down-filled coats. For Poriadjian-Asch, the new job means not just a move from Las Vegas to Toronto, but a plunge into the world of rugged, outdoor fashion. Though just weeks into her tenure, Poriadjian-Asch is already working on the brand's fall/winter campaign (debuting today), the launch of new retail locations and a couple projects with some Canadian dude named Drake. Adweek caught up with Poriadjian-Asch on a recent stopover in New York.

Adweek: You're getting ready to unveil your new fall/winter campaign, "In Your Element." What's the story behind that?
Jackie Poriadjian-Asch: The inspiration behind it was this idea of being at one with the elements and not feeling like you're fighting with them. So whatever Mother Nature throws at you, with Canada Goose, you'll be able to handle it.

And the ads feature Crista Cober and Travis Fimmel—striking faces, but not superstar ones. Why'd you pick them?
Not only is Cober an international beauty, but she's Canadian, and she's comfortable in the outdoors. She Instagrams herself hiking with her newborn. Fimmel was a Calvin Klein model years ago. It was really important that we captured him raw and masculine, which is who he is, and it worked perfectly with our intentions for the campaign.

The landscapes are stunning and—just guessing here—they're in Canada?
The campaign was shot in Newfoundland. Using rarely seen locations in Canada is important to us as a brand. We could have gone anywhere in the world, but we're looking to showcase rare beauties that are only found on our soil in a way that's ownable to us.
 


What about customers whose idea of the outdoors is crossing Fifth Avenue?
We know we're as applicable in the Arctic as we are in the streets of New York, so you're going to see great in-studio photography that captures more of the urban lifestyle.

Speaking of that, Canada Goose is also building stores—one in Toronto and a second in New York's SoHo, both opening this fall. Now, a home-turf store I can see. But why come to New York so quickly?
New York is really our home away from home. It's probably our second-biggest market. This probably won't be our last store in New York, hopefully.

What'll the stores have that customers can't already find in your retail partners like Barneys and Saks?
We want to be able to carve out our own space, to do all the brand storytelling, to show customers what our lineage—like the Expedition and Constable parkas—looks like, to show them pieces from our archive.


 

So you'll display some of your historic clothing?
Not only will we have them on display, but some of the pieces will be available for sale. So if there's a coveted piece from 20 years ago that you can't get your hands on anywhere else, this could be a way to take one home.

Actual vintage pieces? Where do you find that stuff?
We have a pretty deep archive. We're very lucky.

In August, you guys did a limited-edition jacket with Jose Bautista that sold out in, uh …
In 24 hours. Jose is true and authentic, and obviously he's on the Toronto Blue Jays. He had a crazy year last year.

He's not a bad-looking guy to put in a jacket, either. Do you plan to do more celeb collaborations like that?
Yes. We have a great relationship with Drake, another Torontonian—obviously, with a huge brand of his own. We've done several collaborations with Drake's brand OVO. And we have some things we're working on with him in the pipeline. He's a friend of the brand.

Well, now you're a Torontonian yourself. Have you been able to take anything you learned at UFC and apply it at Canada Goose?
When I changed industries, I wanted to get this new experience and challenge myself in new ways. And I think Canada Goose is just as dynamic, as ambitious, moving just as quickly, and with global aspirations.

This story first appeared in the September 19, 2016 issue of Adweek magazine.
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