Foot Locker’s Jed Berger: ‘The marketing industry is in for an evolution’
In the past few years, Foot Locker has been making headlines for its aggressive push to modernize, and according to the company’s CMO, Jed Berger, that innovation has pushed their marketing department to start thinking about their customers in a new way.
“Marketing today is harder than it ever has been, because no one wants to be seen as just some linear human,” said Berger. “That just doesn’t exist, and if we came from a perspective where we thought that, we would fail. Recognizing today that a person wants to be known as versatile and dimensional is the first thing that we have to start with.”
From investing in a handful of consumer startups, to rethinking their retail spaces, to launching their own incubator, the company has been working towards what it will be the next evolution of the retail industry. For Berger, this forward-thinking push means that how the company is marketing itself has to evolve as well.
Now, Berger is getting involved in the products from the design stage to ensure that the consumer draw is built-in, and sees himself as more of a business partner, than a marketer.
On this week’s episode of Making Marketing, Shareen Pathak sits down with Berger to discuss the changing role of marketing at Foot Locker, why the company chose to incubate and invest in new brands and the shift of the overall marketing industry. Edited highlights below.
Marketing from design to store shelf
“We sell a product that people are extremely passionate about. People love sneakers, and the more that the product we sell is related to something that’s meaningful in somebody’s life, the better they sell. You don’t always have to be so serious. Our “Game of Thrones” Adidas collection was awesome, and it may be serious to some people, but in the grand scheme of things, not so serious. What Pharrell has done with Human Race is amazing, and a little more serious. Then you have people talking about Yeezys and that resonates because of his creative freedom and self-expression. I think part of what we’ve been great at in the last few years, is that we’ve evolved. We’ve tried to take all of these things that are of interest to a consumer group and get them into the design of the product well ahead of time, instead of having the marketing story at the end be inspired by something, which we’ve continually seen doesn’t work. That’s a big evolution in our industry.”
Developing for the future
“A lot of our investing conversations were happening around the same time as our incubator program, Greenhouse, because we were really talking about how we develop for the future, and all of the things that we needed to do. We also built a focus team that was looking at where the industry was going, different types of talent and different business models that were leading by personality or purpose. It could be part of our ecosystem that could add to it, maybe in the short term, but we could really work together to offer each other something that could develop into something significant in the long term.”
The evolution of the marketing function
“It’s an evolving career. As someone in a high-level position in the field, it’s something that keeps me up at night. There are plenty of articles being written about how brands are replacing CMOs with chief brand officers, or chief growth officers, and often times those are the same people. I talk to young people all the time who have brand marketing written on their resumes, and I tell them not to do that. Nobody wants a brand marketer. You want to be a product marketer? Great. Very rarely are CMOs becoming CEOs or presidents, or sitting on public boards. Personally, I look at myself much more as a business partner than as a marketer. So I think that it’s an interesting time, and in many companies, there needs to be a redefinition of the role of the CMO, or marketing within the organization, or how it reports, or what its accountabilities are. The marketing industry is in for an evolution.”
‘Influencer deals are being paused’: As Facebook boycott begins in earnest, influencer marketing feels a sting
The latest move to pause influencer marketing comes as marketers are not only reconsidering where their ads appear and the kind of content they appear next to, but as they work to figure out how they can better support Black creators and Black-owned businesses following the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests.
As Facebook boycott continues, here’s a look at what major marketers were spending on Facebook and Instagram
To get a sense of how much advertisers are pulling back from Facebook, Digiday reached out to ad-tracking firm Pathmatics. The company provided estimates for how much advertisers spent on the platform during July 2019 as well as from July 2019 to 2020.
Member Exclusive‘Performative posting’: As agencies share their equality values online, staffers say they have to do much more for Black employees than post
Agency employees and execs say agencies need to do more than make statements to be better for Black employees.
SponsoredFour ways to adapt to the changing publisher ecosystem in 2020
By Neal Sinno, general manager Americas at GeoEdge For marketers, 2020 started out with so much promise — but this changed rapidly as the industry faced a global epidemic head-on. Not only did our own daily routines come to a screeching halt, for many of us our professional lives did as well. Almost as quickly […]
‘Don’t want to piss off customers’: With manufacturing and exporting snarled, some DTC brands are adapting their advertising
Media buyers say that supply chain hiccups have caused them to pause or significantly reduce media spending anywhere from two weeks to five weeks for some DTC brands low on product inventory.
Beyond remote work: Bringing serendipity back to the office
This article is part of the Future of Work briefing, a weekly email with stories, interviews, trends and links about how work, workplaces and workforces are changing. Sign up here. Kai Micah Mills had been working in a different state from his work partner for years. More recently, though, his partner, Ben Adamsky, made the move […]