Women to Watch 2010

Women to Watch: Amy Curtis-McIntyre

Senior VP-Marketing, Old Navy

By Published on .

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- If there is some compulsory course instructing future marketers of the world to speak in safe, vacant phrases, then Amy Curtis-McIntyre most certainly has skipped it.

Ms. Curtis-McIntyre, the newly anointed senior VP-marketing for Gap Inc.'s Old Navy label, communicates in the matter-of-fact tone and tenor that touches on her Gotham roots. "Brand managers overcomplicate things because they can," the 43-year-old said. "Marketing is a practical science. It's often overexplained."

Observers note that it is this simplicity that uniquely characterizes Ms. Curtis-McIntyre's disposition and approach. It is a method most markedly visible in her work as the founding CMO of JetBlue, a company that redefined what an airline could be, both in design and perception.

"I left JetBlue on a huge high note," she said of the company that, much to her credit, claims descriptors such as "cool" or "fashionable." Ms. Curtis-McIntyre, the mother of two boys, now 9 and 6, thought she wanted to stay home after leaving the New York-based airline, but instead she ended up on the speaking circuit for the next year-and-a-half. "Everyone wanted to hear the JetBlue story, and I had the most wonderful time talking about it."

But then Ms. Curtis-McIntyre was diagnosed with stage-three breast cancer, prompting her to "chill out," as she put it, and get healthy. "Yeah, the doctors told me I had to take it easy," she explained in modest, unassuming tones. "It was nice for a while to not have to work." After her treatment, she felt ready enough to return to a desk and eventually landed as the senior VP-brand communications for Hyatt Hotels and Resorts.

"I'm a huge fan of her, because everything she does, she radiates with authenticity," said John Osborn, CEO of Hyatt's agency, BBDO, New York, and with whom Ms. Curtis-McIntyre worked on the hotelier's latest branding efforts. "She speaks from the heart," Mr. Osborn continued. "And she's into straight talk."

Mr. Osborn cited that the brand message she helped devise for Hyatt, "You're More Than Welcome," echoed her demeanor. "She made us feel more than welcome," he said. "We were a true marketing partner, not just some ad agency."

It is an attitude that fits in with Ms. Curtis-McIntyre's worldview -- a company's message has to permeate every department. "The greatest brands operate on very simple platforms, but ones that are extended throughout the company," she explained. "That point of view has to be expressed by everyone who's representing it."

She will take that sense of representation to Gap Inc. in June when she will begin to overhaul the $14 billion company's Old Navy brand, which hasn't had a head marketer since 2008.

"I'm happiest when I have a lot going on," she said. "I'm happiest when I'm on a team, when, I'm with a business, contributing. We're here to do and learn and grow and make money and give something back."

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