Will R/GA hold on to Beats By Dre?
Steve’s breakdown: I know what you’re thinking. After winning a pride of lions at Cannes, how could they possibly lose the business. I’ll tell ya, the guy managing all those award winning spots is Omar Johnson, the CMO, and he’s leaving November 1st.
If I were R/GA, I’d follow him – not so much the stick with the brand.
SANTA MONICA, CA: After overseeing Beats By Dre‘s rise to become one of the most stylish and best brand storytellers around, chief marketing officer Omar Johnson announced today he will be leaving the company on November 1st.
Johnson joined Beats in 2010 as vice-president of marketing and was named CMO in 2012. Since then, working with agency R/GA, he oversaw the brand’s transition from a curiosity to a constant presence in pop culture, whether through epic, adrenalin rush advertising, endorsements of both up and coming, and hit musicians, or seemingly every pro athlete in every major sport wearing its familiar headphones with a passionate loyalty.
Part of that loyalty was forged in what Johnson once told Co.Create was the brand’s collaborative way of working with them to tell their real stories, as opposed to just asking them to stand there and hold the product. Last year he told us how that process resulted in the 2014 World Cup spot. “Whether Luis Suarez wrapping his hand and kissing it three times, or Cesc Fabregas kissing the charm his girlfriend gave him with his two kids’ names on it, they’re all real,” said Johnson. “So when I ask them to do that on camera, it’s less about making an ad and more about how to celebrate what they do every day. And that’s flattering on a more personal level. So by inspiring our athletes, it changes the ad making process.”
In an email, Beats co-founder Jimmy Iovine said, “Omar Johnson is one of the most talented marketing executives I’ve ever met and we couldn’t have built Beats without him. He has my support in his future endeavor.”
Jason White, a former Wieden+Kennedy executive who has been Johnson’s right-hand since 2014, will be named Beats’ executive vice-president of marketing. Now word yet on what his next move will be, but a Beats spokesperson confirmed Johnson will continue with the company through the end of October in order to put the finish work on two new global brand campaigns that will be launching soon.