7 Brand Marketers Poached by Tech Companies

Who will be next?

Headshot of Lauren Johnson

Snapchat, Apple, Twitter and Lyft are increasingly enlisting brand marketers to build out new advertising strategies and revenue streams.

Marketers from Nike, Virgin America, Unilever and Gap have all been snatched away from their posts in recent months—showing the big bets that tech players are placing on traditional marketers to steer their aims. And as more brands look to closely work with tech companies on their own initiatives, it only makes sense that tech players keep an eye on their clients' talent for possible hires.

Here are seven noteworthy folks who have switched over from brand marketing to the tech space within the past year.

Snapchat Gets Nike Exec to Bolster Sports Business

Last week, Techcrunch reported that Snapchat has hired Eric Toda to head up the social app’s business and partnership efforts. Toda was previously Nike’s global director of digital and worked on the athletic brand’s social media, mobile and content strategy.

With an estimated value of $10 billion, Snapchat is primed to build out its advertising model.

Already, brands like Taco Bell are establishing groups of highly-engaged users on Snapchat. The fast-food chain claims that each time it sends out a Snap, 90 percent of its users open and watch all of the message.

Lyft Steals Talent from Richard Branson

In August, Lyft poached Jesse McMillin from his role as creative director at Virgin America for the same, newly-created position at the ride-sharing app.

One of McMillin's first projects was Lyft's first integrated marketing campaign that launched this summer, consisting of digital and out-of-home promos.

As the tech war continues to heat up in the ride-sharing app space between Uber, Lyft and others, the apps are also becoming marketing platforms for brands.

Pinterest Nabs Unilever’s Hair Care Exec

In July, Pinterest brought David Rubin on board from Unilever to expand the social site’s appeal beyond women-focused marketers to include men’s brands.

Rubin spent 15 years at Unilever and is credited with setting up digital campaigns for the Axe brand.

The hire is the latest example of how Pinterest is arming itself with the talent needed to rope in the big-name advertisers from Facebook and Twitter. In June, Pinterest started rolling out Promoted Pins that let advertisers set up ad campaigns on their own, along with more data about brands’ posts.

Apple Looks to Rev Up Retail Business

Apple last year hired Angela Ahrendts away from her post as CEO at luxury retailer Burberry for a new position—senior vp of retail and online stores—at Apple.

Despite being one of the world’s most recognized brands, Apple’s appeal has slumped over the past few years. Ahrendts’ hire confused some experts, but she is also credited in building Burberry into a digital powerhouse with high-tech in-store retail experiences

And it marked the first in multiple considerable hiring moves.

Apple Grabs Gap’s Millennial Guru

In a similar retail hire, Apple scooped up Gap’s Marcela Aguilar earlier this month, who was the senior global director of marketing communications.

Aguilar was part of the team behind the retailer’s "Dress Normal" campaign this fall — the retailer’s take on the normcore trend that targets millennials. 

The former Gap executive is joining Apple as director of global marketing communications, where she will likely be charged with a similar role in shaping the smartphone maker’s brand perception. In addition to steadily hiring new talent, Apple’s acquisition of Beats Electronics earlier this year was seen by many as a way for the Cupertino, Calif.-based company to get back some of its mojo with younger consumers.

Apple Tackles Social With Swoosh Marketer

Nike also lost Musa Tariq, its digital marketing director in August to Apple.

At Nike, Tariq oversaw the fitness brand’s social media strategy. Apple is notorious for not having a presence on social media (despite a short-lived Tumblr campaign earlier this year), so it's likely that Apple's hire will help build Apple's social steam.

The Tumblr activation was orchestrated by TBWA/Media Arts Lab, which has been under a rocky relationship as of late. As Apple looks to move more marketing work in-house, Tariq’s hiring signals that Apple may finally be gearing up to launch social media for its brand.

Twitter Hires People’s Editor to Ramp up Social News

Twitter hired Janice Morris, formerly editor in chief of Time Inc.’s People.com, in June.

Not much was known about her hire at the time, but it’s clear that Morris’ appointment is part of Twitter’s goal in becoming the go-to news source for big-name publishers including The New York Times, National Public Radio and NBC.

@laurenjohnson lauren.johnson@adweek.com Lauren Johnson is a senior technology editor for Adweek, where she specializes in covering mobile, social platforms and emerging tech.