Converse Chief Marketing Officer Geoff Cottrill Departs Company

Brand Leader Oversaw Innovative Experiential and Social Campaigns

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Geoff Cottrill
Geoff Cottrill Credit: Allie Cottrill

Converse this week said that Chief Marketing Officer Geoff Cottrill will be leaving the company. During Mr. Cottrill's eight-year tenure there, he helped make the brand a star in the marketing world for its innovative experiential and social media efforts.

Mr. Cottrill, who also previously served as an executive at Starbucks and Coca-Cola, said he has no definite plans on his next gig. He had only good things to say about his time at Converse.

"I love the people I got to work with and I'm grateful and honored to have been able to lead an iconic and global brand," he said. "I feel like we did some really innovative things in experiential marketing and with consumer engagement, we built a great social media network, and we had a lot of fun doing it. I'm extremely optimistic about the future of Converse, and I'm very excited about what's ahead for me."

In a statement about his departure, Converse said, "We thank him for his many contributions to the Converse brand over the last eight years and wish him much success in the future."

Last year, Mr. Cottrill worked with Anomaly on "Made By You," a Spring/Summer 2015 campaign for the Chuck Taylor All-Stars that celebrated the creativity of its fans. It included a series of more than 200 portraits of pairs of Chucks that highlighted the imprint made on them by their "wearers," whether it be everyday folks or artists like Andy Warhol and Jeff Soto and singer Patti Smith. There was also a fun film showcasing creative Converse fans around the globe and a Google Cardboard virtual reality experience that put consumers in the Chucks of musican King Tuff, artist Ron English and actress Joanna DeLane, among others.

Mr. Cottrill also oversaw the launch of the Chuck II, a "modern-day" version of the Chuck Taylor All-Stars that incorporated parent company Nike's technology to bring added comfort to the shoe. Currently, the brand is overhauling its New York store in Soho to include a customization workshop.

Under his watch, the brand, along with Cornerstone, opened the "Rubber Tracks" studio in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, which provides free recording studio space, services and mentorship to budding musical artists. Last year, Rubber Tracks went global and partnered with top studios around the world, including London's Abbey Road, L.A.'s Sunset Sound and Reykjavik, Iceland's Greenhouse Studios, to provide mentorship to even more talents.

"It's less about putting a number on it and more about realizing that people have always been media," Mr. Cottrill told Ad Age in 2014. "We've provided musicians with experiences they'll never forget. The measurement is that. We're building ambassadors for the brand. By doing something good for them, we see over and over again that they speak on our behalf."

Such efforts have made Converse a powerful brand on social media. Today it ranks in the top ten among most popular brands on Facebook, with 37.5 million fans, according to social media analytics firm Socialbakers, and in recent years has had more fans than adidas and parent Nike combined.

One of the best lessons he learned on the job? "Being brave enough to really listen to your consumers and follow them," Mr. Cottrill said.

He added that he is grateful for, and learned much from, his experiences not just with his own team but also agencies Anomaly, Cornerstone and R/GA. "I'm really proud of the accomplishments of the team. I think legacies are built not on campaigns, or on building experiential events; legacies are built on the people you bring in and work with, and I think I did a good job at that."

According to Ad Age Datacenter, Converse's revenue in the current fiscal year has been growing in the U.S. but facing weakness in Europe. Overall, Converse worldwide revenue has been falling even as the Nike brand revenue continues to grow.

For the quarter ended Nov. 30, Nike said: "Constant currency revenues for Converse decreased 5%, as growth in the United States and Asia Pacific was more than offset by declines in certain European markets, most notably the United Kingdom."

In that quarter, Converse's stated revenue fell 8%; down 5%, as noted, excluding effects of currency changes. In six months ended Nov. 30, Converse revenue fell 6%; and was down 1% excluding currency changes.

Contributing: Brad Johnson, Adrianne Pasquarelli