Apple Hires Gap's Number Two Marketer

Marcela Aguilar Tapped as Director Global Marketing Communications, as Apple Watch Launch Looms

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Apple's latest hire has a background in fashion and ad agencies, as well as plenty of global expertise. Marcela Aguilar, senior global director-marketing communications at Gap, will be joining Apple as director-global marketing communications.

Ms. Aguilar will come on board just as the company is gearing up for the launch of its newest product, the Apple Watch, a wearable computing device. The watch is slated to go to market in early 2015.

Marcela Aguilar
Marcela Aguilar

Apple did not return requests for comment. Ms. Aguilar could not be reached for comment.

Ms. Aguilar, a 2013 Ad Age Woman to Watch, has spent the last three years helping to remake the Gap brand. In mid-2011, she was the first external hire by Gap's global CMO Seth Farbman, as he began work to help the struggling brand stand out in the increasingly crowded specialty retail space. During her time at Gap, sales have rebounded and the brand has won praise for its fresh marketing.

"She has been a major part of the journey to return the brand to iconic status," said Mr. Farbman. Among her accomplishments, he cited the latest "Dress Normal" campaign, which includes a series of TV spots with Academy Award-nominated director David Fincher and is generating interest in the brand, especially among millennials. He also said she built a "remarkably globally and culturally diverse" team and forged strong relationships with agencies, including Wieden & Kennedy.

"Apple is getting a tested professional. Working on a major American brand like Gap means you are on a big stage, in bright lights, every day. That experience is priceless, and Apple demands people who know how to play at a high level," Mr. Farbman added. "Also, her experience in simply communicating the value of meaningful design and developing ideas that create an emotion -- rather than just communicate a product benefit -- should serve her well at Apple."

Mr. Farbman said he expects to have news on Ms. Aguilar's replacement soon.

Prior to joining Gap, Ms. Aguilar, a native of Costa Rica, spent seven years at BBDO, leading a global team on the Procter & Gamble business. In that role she traveled extensively in China, India and Brazil.

Ms. Aguilar got her start as a receptionist at a small, local ad agency in Costa Rica. She also worked at BBDO and Rapp Collins in Latin America. "It's a great thing before you go global to have the local to balance you," Ms. Aguilar told Ad Age last year. "I spent many years working in Latin America ... receiving global campaigns and ideas, thinking they don't understand locally what we need to do."

Apple has steadily been bulking up its internal creative team, recruiting extensively from ad agencies. Over the past year, the electronics company has also pilfered top marketing talent from fashion and retail.

Most recently, Apple reportedly nabbed Marc Newson, a high-profile designer, who has collaborated with Apple's reclusive lead designer, Jony Ive, and worked with multiple major brands. And last October, Apple hired Angela Ahrendts, the CEO of Burberry, for a new senior position as head of retail and online commerce.

According to the Ad Age DataCenter, around 80% of Apple's media spending was devoted to TV in 2013. Apple spent $1.33 billion in advertising globally in 2012, the latest year comprehensive Ad Age data is available.

Recent Apple hires

  • Paul Deneve, VP, Apple -- former CEO, Yves Saint Laurent; hired in July 2013 to work on "special projects" for CEO Tim Cook
  • Enrique Atienza, Apple Retail -- former senior VP, retail and global store operations, Levi; hired in July 2013
  • Jay Blahnik -- former consultant, Nike Fuelband; hired in August 2013
  • Ben Shaffer -- former studio director, Innovation Kitchen, Nike; hired in September 2013
  • Angela Ahrendts, senior VP-retail and online stores, Apple -- former CEO, Burberry; hired in October 2013
  • Bob Kupbens, VP, online retail, Apple -- former VP-marketing and digital commerce, Delta Air Lines; hired in March
  • Tommy Elliot, senior program manager, Apple -- former senior director, product and new initiatives, Visa; hired in March
  • Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre, co-founders, Beats by Dre; Omar Johnson, CMO, Beats Electronic; Bozoma Saint John, CMO, Beats Music -- acquired by Apple in August
  • Musa Tariq, digital marketing director, Apple -- former global senior director of social media and community, Nike; hired in August
  • Marc Newson -- designer; hired in September
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