Marie Gulin-Merle is trading beauty for blue jeans. The marketing executive has been named the new chief marketing officer at Calvin Klein, effective this spring. She has been chief marketing officer at L'Oreal USA for the past four years.
Tasked with expanding the PVH Corp.-owned apparel brand's voice and global marketing platforms, as well as furthering consumer engagement, Gulin-Merle is filling a role that has been vacant for more than a year. In 2016, Calvin's former CMO Melisa Goldie resigned from the New York-based brand; at the time, the company said a replacement would not be named.
Goldie's departure came just months after the appointment of a new chief creative officer, Raf Simons, who joined Calvin from fashion house Dior. Gulin-Merle will now report to Simons, who recently debuted his second collection for the brand with an Americana-inspired line.
As CMO, Gulin-Merle is faced with the challenge of attracting consumers to a clothing brand known for its provocative, sexually-suggestive ads at a time when apparel is taking a backseat to experiences and consumers are increasingly on the lookout for sexist marketing.
Last month, Calvin unveiled an ad that showed the three Kardashian sisters and two Jenner sisters together in bed in their underwear. A 30-second video featured the sisters playing the game "Never Have I Ever."
The brand is putting more money into marketing after a positive third quarter in which it reported a 6 percent rise in revenue to $943 million. Analysts support the decision.
"Management has decided to capitalize on the current momentum of the Calvin Klein business and plow the excess back into increased marketing spend," wrote Steven Marotta, a retail analyst at CL King & Associates, in a recent research note. "We applaud the decision not to give in to the temptation to raise guidance more than the Q3 beat and, instead, invest for the long-term health of the brand."
At L'Oreal USA, Gulin-Merle will be succeeded by Gretchen Saegh-Fleming, a senior VP of the Luxe Division in the U.S. who most recently led the direct-to-consumer business for the luxury brand portfolio, including Lancome, Kiehl's, Yves Sint Laurent Beaute, Giorgio Armani, Urban Decay, IT cosmetics and Clarisonic. She joined L'Oreal USA in 2012 as VP overseeing e-commerce and digital innovation for L'Oreal's International Designer Collection brands within the Luxe Division. Before that, she had leadership roles at startups and General Electric, where she launched GE's "Ecomagination" brand campaign and website in China and led a digital rebranding effort for GE Healthcare.
L'Oreal's North American business had a slowdown in the fourth quarter, with organic sales off 0.8 percent vs. up 1.7 percent for the full year.
Contributing: Jack Neff