Creativity 50 2015

Creativity 50 2015: Kevin Spreekmeester

Chief Marketing Officer, Canada Goose

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Kevin Spreekmeester
Kevin Spreekmeester Credit: Daniel Ehrenworth

Before the first frost hits, consumers have already been pulling out their Canada Goose coats. Despite the high prices -- parkas start north of $600 -- shoppers regularly pony up for the coveted label, with many stores selling out before the winter season gets underway. Chief Marketing Officer Kevin Spreekmeester is the marketing brains behind the 58-year-old brand. Formerly with firms such as Ford and NFL Canada, he helped catapult Toronto-based Canada Goose into the consumer spotlight two years ago when he supplied Sports Illustrated with white jackets after hearing it was shooting its annual swimsuit issue in Antarctica. One coat eventually made its way onto model Kate Upton in a cover shot that gained global attention. Such guerrilla marketing has contributed to a 4,000% rise in the company's sales in the past decade, to reportedly more than $300 million. A recent global campaign, the brand's first, featuring a short film by Canadian-born Hollywood director Paul Haggis should continue that growth,

Ad Age: What's your definition of creativity?

Kevin Spreekmeester: The concept of creativity is often elusive. It always appears to be the farthest thing from your mind when you're trying to be creative. When I've felt at the most creative, it's been as I work through a process of exploration that ends up in a place that feels undeniable. Amazingly, once you reach a creative solution, it's so obvious that it seems inconceivable that you didn't start there. Perhaps then, for me the definition of creativity is "a process of exploring a subject from the sublime to the obvious until the last thought is an undeniable truth."

Ad Age: What was your biggest creative challenge of the past year, and how did you tackle it?

Mr. Spreekmeester: Great marketing and creativity never come without a challenge, so for our team here at Canada Goose, it's hard to pick one thing. That said, at a high-level, selling to a variety of audiences with differing needs and expectations of our brand in markets around the world all at different stages of maturity, along with explosive growth, how we evolve our communication platform and message without losing ourselves has been a clear focus. To solve that, we allowed ourselves to delve into the most random concepts and creative strategies before realizing that we have amazing, real stories to tell. So we just told them, honestly. We went back to our roots and found our answers there.

Ad Age: What's your advice to anyone in a creative slump? How do you fight your creative demons?

Mr. Spreekmeester: Most creative slumps are actually just a lack of energy or enthusiasm to deal with an issue -- I don't believe people just become creatively stupid from one day to the next. My way of managing a creative slump may not be the most efficient, but it works for me. I tend to tear down everything around me and get messy. Then I go to places of comfort, listen to old music that inspires me, watch movies that move me or connect with friends who understand me, and by the time I'm finished getting back to my roots, I'm reenergized and get back to the challenge at hand.

Ad Age: What's the best advice you got when it comes to nurturing your creativity?

Mr. Spreekmeester: Creativity is a process, not a destination or thing. It's a way of seeing. I don't think you can force it, but I do think you can manage it. And the best creative solutions are amazingly honest. My advice would be to never stop at the first or easiest answer … push until you are being ridiculous, and then go to bed and take another look at it the next day. And finally, be prepared to be brutally honest with yourself.

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