Equinox Taps Former Pepsi Marketer

Cie Nicholson Becomes Fitness Company's First CMO

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Cie Nicholson, former CMO of PepsiCo North America, has landed at Equinox as the upscale fitness company's first chief marketing officer.

Ms. Nicholson, who departed PepsiCo two years ago, had been heavily involved in two start-up companies, Games That Give and Pup to Go. Now, she's taking the best of what she's learned as a marketer on billion-dollar brands, as well as fledgling brands, to Equinox. She is being charged with growing the marketing team, developing the branding around two new Equinox brands, Pure Yoga and Blink, as well as establishing the company's identify in new markets.

The privately held Equinox, which is known for its upscale facilities, spent only $4 million on measured media last year, according to Kantar Media. The small budget and high-end appeal of Equinox is markedly different from the big budgets and mass appeal of Pepsi or Mountain Dew, making the decision to hire Ms. Nicholson, a well-known marketer and one-time Ad Age Woman to Watch, intriguing.

"We are poised for substantial domestic and international growth," said Equinox CEO Harvey Spevak. "We made the strategic decision to elevate the marketing function at the company and find one of the top marketers in the country."

Mr. Spevak said that in reaching out to his network it was suggested Ms. Nicholson would be able to provide some guidance on potential candidates. Mr. Spevak contacted her, but soon their conversation shifted to the idea of Ms. Nicholson herself taking on the role.

"There are a number of things in Cie's background that were very attractive for us," he said. "She's a marketer that connects both the branding and marketing element with the business side. She's someone that doesn't just develop nice creative but understands that marketing serves an end, to drive the profitability of the business."

Mr. Spevak also said he expects the company's marketing budget, at Ms. Nicholson's direction, will increase "dramatically" as the company grows. Though Mr. Spevak admits Equinox still isn't, and likely never will be, a mass-market brand, he expects his new top marketer will think progressively about things such as events and sponsorships, as well as digital and social media.

Equinox works with several boutique agencies, including Yard and Code and Theory, both in New York.

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