“I did not follow a linear career,” said Colin Fleming. That couldn’t be more true for the former race car driver. In his old line of work, the routes are famously windy—and they ultimately led him into the marketing cloud at Salesforce.
Salesforce’s Colin Fleming started as a Red Bull racing driver
Fleming, 38, was a driver for Red Bull during what he calls a “prior life,” so his connections to the marketing world go back a long way. “Marketing is a huge part of any athlete’s trajectory,” he said of how he got into the field, noting that he pulled in $15 million in sponsorships as a driver before he was 21 years old.
Though Fleming has been with Salesforce for 11 years now, 2022 is a pivotal one for the marketing team because the company tried to break out of its mold as a business-to-business brand with its first-ever Super Bowl ad. “It was a departure for Salesforce,” Fleming said, adding that the company is “returning to our disruptive founding roots.”
Salesforce tapped Matthew McConaughey for its Big Game ad (which also ran during the Olympics), showing off the potential for software services to reshape the future. Salesforce this year also announced a major partnership with Formula One racing as the league’s software provider. Formula One is using Salesforce to manage its carbon footprint, which is affected by how it organizes global events, Fleming said.
Meanwhile, Fleming also has to pull off Salesforce’s annual Dreamforce event in late September, which is returning in full force to San Francisco. The pandemic canceled the conference in 2020, and last year it was smaller than usual, but Fleming expects 150,000 people to attend Dreamforce 2022. “I call it our family reunion,” Fleming said—and McConaughey will be there.
If you could have dinner with one person, alive or dead, who would it be and why?
I’ve had a career-long fascination with Steve Jobs, but it’d have to be [poet] Amanda Gorman. We’ve gone through a tough few years here, but it’s hard to not be energized about our future when you see her speak.
What are the top two social media sites you use on a regular basis?
Twitter and LinkedIn.
What’s currently on your bedside reading list?
I’m more a podcast person, but I basically cycle through Michael Crichton’s novels as I love the intersection of humanity and science and technology.
What was the last show you binge-watched?
At what age do you hope to retire?
Honestly, I have given zero thought to this. I don’t know that it would be a hard date. I definitely think about a second or third career in motorsports or with Disney.