Shifts in leadership positions occur daily, but it can be easy to miss the opportunities that come with these changes. From a prospecting perspective, it’s crucial to stay up to date on any new hires or promotions, and have pitches prepared in order to stay one step ahead of the competition.
Why is it so important to track these decision-maker shifts? These shifts, specifically first-time CMOs and new hires, are the top trigger for agency changes, media spending shifts, and new martech investments. Our research indicates that new hires evaluate changes in these areas and begin making adjustments within a 3-12 month window.
Our in-house research team is doing the hard work and bringing you five top CMO hires that mean opportunity for you. Check them out:
Nebraska Furniture Mart
Nebraska Furniture Mart (NFM) selected Amy Myers to replace incumbent CMO Tony Arnold, who held the position for a little over a year. Myers will work with Nora Gomez who was hired as chief merchandising officer last October.
With two new leaders in place, chances of an agency review are likely within the next 9-12 months. Those with retail experience, in particular, are encouraged to reach out. Although media is currently handled in-house, that structure could shift under Myers, and there will be creative to secure regardless. NFM is undergoing a shift toward digital channels, so keep this in mind when pitching. This shift signals an effort to attract a millennial audience, explaining the focus on cause marketing through fundraising campaigns and most recently helping flood victims.
Other channels of focus include spot TV, out-of-home and print. Efforts target local communities in Omaha, Texas, Kansas City, and Iowa. Sellers near these locations with the ability to engage millennials using digital and cause marketing will have an advantage in securing dollars. Keep in mind spend typically spikes in H2. In order to combat struggles, NFM will need to continue to invest more in efforts to drive traffic. Don’t hesitate to approach with plans to reverse weak earnings.
Acquired by Durational Capital Management last October, Bojangles’ became private and announced several personnel shifts including a new CEO, COO, and now a CMO as well.
Jackie Woodward took over the position, effective April 8. With former experience including CMO at Krispy Kreme and time at General Mills, MillerCoors, and McDonald’s, Woodward plans to work with incumbent CMO Randy Poindexter as he transitions into retirement. Plans to combat struggles include an optimization plan that consists of closing underperforming stores, re-franchising restaurants, remodeling older stores, and improving the chain’s menu and overall message.
Sellers, Bojangles’ top spending periods are typically Q1 and Q3, with most investments in TV, digital, outdoor and social channels. The target demographic is made up of millennial and Gen-Z audience.
Since new CMOs typically conduct reviews, those with experience in the fast food realm are encouraged to reach out. Bojangles’ has historically handled media in-house along with using project-based creative work, which is subject to change under new leadership. Note that AC&M has handled Hispanic marketing since 2016, approaching average agency tenure. Sellers are encouraged to reach out to stay on Woodward’s radar, with reviews likely in the next 6-9 months.
Roger Harris is taking over as Amtrak’s EVP and chief marketing and commercial officer, replacing incumbent Tim Griffin who retired April 12. Harris joined the company in January as a long-distance service VP, bringing marketing leadership experience from Aeromexico, Delta and Sun Country Airlines.
This is not the only new hire the company has seen, closely following is John Loschky who joined as the new digital channels director. With no established top spending period, sellers are encouraged to reach out throughout the year in order to secure ad dollars. Main channels of investment include broadcast, digital, outdoor, print, radio and social with a focus on a travel endemic audience. In the past 12 months, Adbeat reports a spend of $6.4 million on digital display placed primarily direct.
Agencies and ad sellers are encouraged to reach out for potential work. Competition will include MediaCom, Wunderman Thompson, VMLY&R and Culture ONE World who served as respective AORs. While these relationships have not reached average agency tenure, they are subject to change within the next 6-9 months following the new CMO hire.
Athleta promoted Sheila Shekar Pollak to CMO, effective October, as a replacement for Andrea Mallard. Pollak began work with Athleta in 2011 as director of advertising and sponsorships and most recently served as VP of marketing. Previous experience includes positions at GAP as well. While this isn’t an outside hire, there is still vast opportunity as the brand prepares for growth since GAP is depending on the brand to stay afloat as the only non-struggling brand left.
Growth will be accomplished through new stores, a heavier focus on marketing with new personnel in place, and a budget focused mostly on digital spend with print, partnerships and experiential to support those efforts.
Competition will include Rise Interactive on digital, YARD on creative, and PHD on media. Focus pitches on combating struggles by outshining competition such as Lululemon, and different ways Athleta can take advantage of the growing athleisure market.
The brand most recently partnered with lifestyle and news destination Well+Good to launch Wellness Collection, where female thought leaders speak on four key elements on wellness through a series of monthly events that Athleta stores across the country. There is likely still time for sellers to secure dollars from this collective. Traditional planning periods are Q1 with a buying period in Q4. Keep in mind the brand targets women, especially millennials. With steep growth goals on the horizon, don’t hesitate to reach out with a review likely within the next 9-12 months.
Sephora’s marketing and brand SVP Deborah Yeh was recently promoted to the CMO position, effective March. Previous experience includes work in marketing leadership roles with Gap, Target, and Vividence Corp.
Other leadership shifts include John Lee as digital products VP and Andrea Zaretsky as marketing, CRM, loyalty, insights, and analytics SVP. These shifts signal opportunity for agency and martech readers, especially those with cosmetic experience.
The female-focused brand spends high year-round, with major investments going toward broadcast, digital, outdoor print, radio, influencers and social channels. Recent changes include the goal to open 35 stores throughout the country, a rewards credit card program, and partnerships with Marvel and Good Dye Young.
Spend is predicted to increase, particularly in the digital realm with a total of $18.3 million in the channel within the past 12 months, according to Adbeat. Keep in mind when reaching out competition will include creative, media and social AOR Collectively, along with digital AOR Organic.