Apple Hires Nike Social Chief as Digital Marketing Director

By Erik Oster 

173be41As 9To5Mac reported yesterday, Apple just gave its social media marketing department a big boost with the addition of Musa Tariq as its new head digital marketing director.

Tariq arrives at Apple from Nike, where he served as global senior director of social media and community since October, 2012. Before that, he was global director of social media, digital marketing, at Burberry — a position he held for about one year before jumping to Nike.

The hire follows Apple’s recent addition of a pair of Nike FuelBand engineers to work on its own wearable technology and continues Apple CEO Tim Cook’s penchant for poaching talent from Nike. Tariq also reported directly to Apple retail and online stores chief Angela Ahrendts while they were both at Burberry, where “he was instrumental in working with Ahrendts on growing Burberry’s global brand,” according to 9To5Mac.

Of course, this move also follows Apple’s recent decision to take more of its production work in-house. Some might see it as yet another step in the brand’s plan to take greater control over its own identity.

Apple is a bit late to the social marketing game, as it spent years taking a hands-off approach. Until recently, its strategy seemed to be to just ignore social media (the @apple Twitter feed has 28,000 followers and not a single tweet). It wasn’t until this March that the company launched its first social campaign on Tumblr to promote the iPhone 5c. That campaign was handled by TBWA/Media Arts Lab, with whom Apple’s contentious relationship is well-documented.

Tariq’s addition seems to signify a drastic shift in Apple’s approach to advertising, as the tech giant finally focuses more heavily on digital and social media. As 9To5Mac points out, his addition also “could tie into Apple’s marketing push for the upcoming fashion and fitness-oriented wearable band.”

Tariq worked closely with athletes on social media campaigns while at Nike — experience that will help him market Apple’s wearable band device. With Tariq on board, it seems likely that Apple will (finally) build its social media presence in the near future.