Vans names Dollar Shave Club veteran as CMO

Vans, the clothing brand known for its skateboarding shoes, hired Kristin Harrer as chief marketing officer to lead its global marketing and creative teams, per an announcement. She previously was CMO of Dollar Shave Club, the direct marketer of men’s grooming products that Unilever acquired five years ago.

Harrer will report directly to Doug Palladini, global brand president of Vans, and be responsible for the VF Corp.-owned brand’s strategy, planning, creative development and execution of marketing programs among retail, brand and digital channels.

The appointment comes as digital and direct-to-consumer (DTC) channels are increasingly important for brands. Along with her time at Dollar Shave Club, Harrer has more than 20 years of experience leading marketing teams, including stints at Samsung and Nike.

Vans’s appointment of Kristin Harrer as CMO comes as brands seek to engage consumers through digital and DTC marketing channels. Her background includes roles at disruptive brands like Dollar Shave Club that helped to change the way men’s grooming products are sold, and in mobile marketing at Samsung, one of the world’s biggest makers of electronics. She also worked as insights director of global consumer knowledge at Nike, whose data-driven approach to marketing has expanded its sales. Vans saw double-digit sales growth during the first three quarters of last year, and was on track to surpass $4 billion in revenue, parent company VF Corp. said in its annual report.

Vans’s marketing emphasizes its authenticity and commitment to creators. Last month, the brand asked people to nominate small businesses for its “Foot the Bill” program to provide them with COVID-19 relief. Participants in the program create unique designs for footwear and clothing with original artwork that represents the identity of their business, per an announcement. Before that, it launched a campaign called “These Projects Are Ads for Creativity” that enlisted artists and creators to make artwork that Vans will share online for the remainder of the year, according to a separate announcement.

Vans announced Harrer’s appointment a day before Earth Day, when the brand unveiled a plan to promote environmental sustainability by making its products from renewable or recycled materials, reducing its carbon footprint and expanding its use of renewable energy. To promote the plan, Vans is offering members of its mobile loyalty plan a chance to win merchandise for sharing their steps to help the environment.

Harrer’s appointment comes after the demand for CMOs rose among businesses during the second half of last year, according to a study by executive recruiting firm Russell Reynolds Associates (RRA). As brands seek to position themselves for growth in a post-pandemic environment, they face challenges including making their marketing efforts resonate among uncertain consumers and changing use of technology.