Converse promotes Nike executive to CMO role

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Credit: Brent Lewin/Bloomberg

Amid a wave of executive-level departures at parent brand Nike, Converse has appointed a new chief marketing officer. The shoe brand, which Nike bought 15 years ago, has named Sophie Bambuck its new CMO, a Converse spokeswoman confirmed Tuesday. Bambuck replaces Julien Cahn, who left Converse in February to join cult streetwear brand Supreme.

Sophie Bambuck
Sophie Bambuck Credit: Sophie Bambuck via LinkedIn

Like Cahn, who rose from the marketing department of Nike to the CMO role at Converse in 2016, Bambuck was promoted from the Beaverton, Oregon-based parent company. She was most recently senior brand director of Nike sportswear in Europe, the Middle East and Africa—the unit eventually became Nike's largest business entity globally, according to a spokeswoman. In Europe, Bambuck also reintroduced Air Max 97 and worked on the "Force is Female" campaign.

The brand is currently working with Wieden & Kennedy, the spokeswoman says. Converse recently worked with Anomaly last year on the digital "Forever Chuck" campaign to highlight the lasting power of its signature Chuck Taylor sneakers. The brand also tapped R/GA in 2017 for a series of Twitter episodes with Millie Bobby Brown and Maisie Williams to entice younger shoppers.

In addition to Cahn's departure, Nike has parted ways with numerous executives in recent weeks. Most notably, Trevor Edwards, former president, resigned in March following reports of "improper workplace conduct" and Jayme Martin, VP of global categories, left the brand soon after.

"It is clear to us that a lot of top flight talent has left Nike in a very short period of time," wrote Sam Poser, a retail analyst at Susquehanna Financial Group, in a recent research note that counted nine such exits in 35 days, adding that "Nike has a track record of developing and promoting talent from within."

Poser also wrote, "We believe the departure of key staff members within Nike is a disruption," and noted that he expects more executive departures to come.

In the third quarter, Converse revenue dropped 8 percent over the year-earlier period to $483 million. On a recent conference call, Nike executives said they plan to invest more Converse-specific digital platforms and collaborations. Nike's quarterly revenue rose 7 percent to $3 billion for the period.

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