It’s no secret that collaboration is essential to growth, but the how of it isn’t always so clear—and it's the understanding of how that is a true competitive advantage. Join Adweek X, a uniquely formatted event on December 4 in LA, to unlock fresh perspectives, true collaboration and growth.
For over 30 years, Nike’s longstanding chief marketing officer (CMO) Dirk-Jan “DJ” van Hameren has been helping the brand “Just Do it.” Now, he’s announced plans to retire at the end of 2023.
As it looks to write the next chapter of its marketing playbook, the sports giant has confirmed former company executive Nicole Hubbard Graham will fill Hameren’s proverbial sneakers as the company’s new CMO.
Her appointment was announced in a statement detailing an executive shake up at Nike designed to help it future proof the business against squeezed consumer spending and a fiercely competitive athletic wear market.
Graham already has 17 years of experience with the company, having held senior marketing positions across the Oregon-founded firm’s consumer, basketball and direct divisions between 2004 and 2021.
Post-pandemic, she left to co-found creative agency Adopt, which counts Lululemon, the North Face and New Balance-owned Klutch Athletics among its clients.
A marketing, design and innovation shake up
The business made other promotions across its product innovation and design departments too, in what it said was a move to help its product innovation, design excellence and powerful storytelling while it serves consumers “at speed and scale.”
In line with this, 30-year Nike design exec John Hoke will become its first chief innovation officer, working closely with Tom Clarke, president of innovation, to bring new products and services to buyers.
Martin Lotti will take over the design team, overseeing all aspects of design, from footwear and apparel to brand and retail concepts.
Elsewhere, Dr. Muge Erdirik Dogan will join Nike from Amazon as chief technology officer (CTO) to strengthen the “speed, efficiency, and quality” of Nike’s consumer experiences through its products, platforms and services.
“Innovation, design, and storytelling have always been the heart and soul of Nike. These leadership changes enable us to obsess further our unparalleled innovation, product, design, and storytelling to reimagine sport for the next generation of athletes,” said Heidi O’Neill, president, consumer, product and brand at Nike. “Together, these leaders will deliver new levels of performance, style and breakthrough storytelling for consumers around the world.”
As the swoosh re-engineers its executive team, some Nike employees have taken to LinkedIn to say their creative and digital roles have been made redundant in the process.
One staffer claimed around 70 contracts within the Nike brand creative team had been “laid off,” while several other former colleagues wrote to express solidarity with those who had been impacted by the cuts.
Adweek has contacted Nike to confirm how the cuts have impacted the marketing team. At the time of publication, it had not yet responded.
Future-proofing the Swoosh
During its most recent earnings update, Nike reported a bounce back from a mid-year slump.
The sportswear giant reported a 2% rise in revenue year on year to $12.9 billion for the three months to September 2023. This was driven by a 6% increase in revenues from its Nike Direct direct-to-consumer (DTC) platform.
For some time, Nike has been shifting sales away from wholesale channels to its own stores and e-commerce sites, gleaning data on consumers to enhance its marketing in the process.
“As we deliver on our strategy to elevate the marketplace through premium physical and digital retail experiences, we continue to see that consumers want to connect directly and personally with our brands,” Matt Friend, Nike’s evp and chief financial officer, told investors in August 2023.
With a new leadership team, it looks like team Nike will continue to double down on this strategy in a sportswear market projected to be worth $207 billion by the end of 2025.
Under Hameren’s marketing leadership, Nike has made some of the most iconic campaigns of the 21st century alongside agency of record Wieden+Kennedy. These include “Dream Crazy” with Colin Kaepernick, “You Can’t Stop Us,” and, more recently, a chaotic spot with London-founded label Corteiz to celebrate a collab with Nike’s Air Max 95.