GET TO KNOW...
Head of Global Strategic Communications Planning and US Activation, Reebok
David Oksman is a brand- and business-building marketing executive with a passion for purpose-driven brands and creating disruptive consumer experiences. As Head of Global Strategic Communications Planning at Reebok, he leads the communications and media teams and is accountable for delivering strategies that ensure Reebok is positioned as the fitness brand. Prior to this, he served as the Head of US Marketing. With a creative and forward-thinking vision, Oksman is devoted to helping people become their best selves through the journey of fitness.
Prior to Reebok, he held the role of Head of Marketing at Life is Good, a Boston-based lifestyle apparel brand whose mission is to spread the power of optimism and help kids in need. While under his leadership, Life Is Good developed significant community and consumer growth and was awarded Boston Business Journal’s Best Brand of 2013 and an MITX award for the Life Is Good Festival. He was honored to be named a 2011 Social Media Star, as well as being recognized as one of SGB’s “40 under 40” in 2012.
Before joining Life Is Good, Oksman ran US E-commerce at Reebok. His previous roles include leading cross-divisional search marketing and an online/cable-on-demand video platform for GM as an account executive at Digitas. Prior to joining Digitas, he spent three years at Staples Inc., driving marketing campaigns through numerous online channels.
Please provide some information about your background and how it has prepared you for your current role at Reebok.
I'm an entrepreneur at heart but have been able to bring that mindset to big brands. I started my career at Staples, where I was focused on digital marketing, like SEM, SEO, Affiliate and email. Staples was very much ahead of the curve from a database marketing and personalization perspective, so I really learned a lot about what it means to be consumer-centric and how to drive ROI. I also got the opportunity to manage creative teams, which taught me how to write great briefs and bridge the communication gap between marketing and creative.
Then, I wanted to put agency experience in my toolkit and headed to Digitas, where I worked on GM's business. On GM, I was able to do some really interesting things in the video content creation space. This was before Google purchased YouTube, and we were working to create an infrastructure for their dealer network to manage video content. We also built out the GM Showroom—a video-on-demand channel on set-top boxes—which still exists today. We tested some pretty innovative things, like signing up for a test drive in certain markets through your DVR where they would bring the car to you.
In 2007, I came to Reebok for the first time, where I drove the build-out of eCommerce in the U.S. We built a new digital platform and infrastructure globally. The experience of owning the P&L really solidified my understanding and appreciation for being a growth-driven, brand-building marketer.
From Reebok, I went to work for Life is Good, a $100 million apparel brand focused on spreading the power of optimism and helping kids impacted by trauma. I built their first marketing department and developed go-to-market plans that helped them spread their amazing message. That experience truly showed me what it meant to build an authentic, purpose-driven brand and how to build community. It really helped me understand how the consumer was changing as it relates to wanting something more authentic and real in the brands they connect with.
Three years ago, I came back to Reebok as the Head of US Marketing and recently moved into my current role managing global communications strategies. I believe my path really allowed me to understand the relationship between brand values/purpose and their commercial ambitions and how to maximize the potential of both.
When it comes to Reebok's aspirational “be your best self” brand message, how do your product, services, messages and tools help consumers to achieve that goal?
It starts internally with our culture and products. Everyone in the building I'm working in right now lives and breathes fitness. We have experienced the power of fitness—whether it's through studio classes, CrossFit, boot camps, etc.—not only in terms of how it makes you stronger physically, but also how mentally it sharpens you and how community and relationships are built from it. We know this message is real because we experience it every day. The people designing training shoes for CrossFit actually do CrossFit. We also work with athletes, fitness enthusiasts and instructors, and they actually co-create a lot of the products with us.
We want to help people achieve their ambitions and do so by nurturing these communities of like-minded individuals. This new generation of fitness-focused consumers, who we call the “FitGen,” understand that it's not about how much money you have—it's about the experiences and the fulfillment you feel through how you live your life. This is truly the new “wellthy,” and we work to curate amazing experiences and products that enable them to achieve their best selves.
How is technology being integrated into your product offerings and changing the way that you view and position the Reebok brand?
We're always looking for products and technologies that will drive significant benefits and are based on real consumer needs. Reebok has been a risk taker that put innovation first. Our brand story began in 1895 with the creation of the first track spike. We helped drive the fitness revolution with women and the Freestyle, and we changed the sneaker game with the Pump. Currently, we have an amazing pipeline of innovation and technology. For instance, our new lightweight, high-performing cushioning technology in our Floatride running shoes enable runners to go further without having to give up the benefit of a lightweight shoe. Tech doesn't change our positioning, but it enables us to push our consumers to new achievements.
How are you incorporating personalization into your products and engagements with consumers?
Our purest form of personalization is YourReebok. YourReebok allows you to customize many of our silhouettes directly through our eCommerce site. You can design your own shoe down to the colors, different fabrications, initialing, etc.
We also are beginning to personalize the digital experience across our owned and paid platforms. Along with this, we place great value on enabling the voice of our consumer in our creation process. We bring them into the conversation to help us better understand which products they like via social media and give them a voice so that they're actually in the room with us, helping to curate our brand.
What is the goal of Reebok's Innovation Collective, and how are your partners and consumers contributing to the success of this initiative?
The Innovation Collective has just launched and focuses on innovation and style when it comes to creating a conversation with our community. All of the amazing things our innovation team is building are so impressive, and the goal is to share all of the innovation technology that's coming. We will also be partnering with those influencers who can help us share and deepen ideas across our innovations. For example, Cotton + Corn is one of the concepts that is a shared via the Collective, and it's all about making a product completely from plant material. It may not necessarily be getting to market tomorrow, but we want to start sharing and discussing these topics with people in the community because they actually help us take these ideas to the next level.
Looking toward the future, what goals, transformations and challenges are you going to be prioritizing over the next year?
Evolving digital is one of the most important challenges and opportunities that we and many other organizations are facing right now. Consumer behavior and the ways in which they're engaging with devices are changing so rapidly. We want to learn how we can truly understand the consumer experience, all the way down to how they're leveraging their devices as they walk into a store—are they looking at the window, or are they looking at their mobile device, and how do we improve their journey? Ultimately, we want to better understand how they engage so we can create experiences that empower us to win their hearts and their wallets.