Picture this. You’re at a Gourmerican burger joint chomping a cheeseburger, when an outspoken vegan friend starts preaching that you’re killing the planet. Last week, that same vegan downed a pricey glass of pinot before their flight to a far-flung destination, armed with their strongest mossie repellant and first aid kit. Anything amiss?
Cotton On’s global head of marketing and ecommerce has switched apparel retailers, taking up a new customer experience-focused role at Country Road.
Col Kennedy, who had been heading up marketing for Cotton On for the past two years, joined Country Road as its general manager of brand and customer experience in August. The new role is responsible for overall brand positioning and customer engagement strategies, from visual merchandising and creative to online, including ecommerce, and marketing globally.
Kennedy is reporting directly to managing director of Country Road, Darren Todd. While it’s too early to discuss specific priorities, he told CMO he was excited about the prospect of building the Country Road brand.
“Country Road is brand that stood out when I first arrived in Australia over five years ago and with which I feel a very strong connection to,” Kennedy said. “It is an iconic Australian brand with a standout heritage and huge ongoing opportunity. This new role as part of the wider team here will deliver the next part of Country Road journey.”
Country Road is owned by Woolworth Holdings, a South African-based conglomerate that also owns David Jones, Mimco, Trenery and Witchery. In September, the group appointed former Marks and Spencer leader, Scott Fyfe, as its new group CEO. He replaces former chief, Matt Keogh, from early 2017.
Woolworths is also now in the process of acquiring embattled retailer menswear retailer, Politix, a deal being done under the Country Road group for $60 million.
Kennedy was with Cotton On since June 2014. Prior to that, he was general manager of marketing at Target, and also had a brief stint working across Target’s digital efforts. His resume also includes regional and marketing director roles at THQ, The Walt Disney Company, Sony PlayStation and TUI Travel based out of the UK.
One of the highlights of Kennedy’s time at Cotton On has been instilling the retailer’s ‘brand why’ purpose, aimed at making a different in people’s lives. To do this, he employed the Golden Circle model developed by Simon Sinek and has strived to move the brand beyond transactions to become truly engaged with its communities.
In his CMO50 submission in 2015, Kennedy said ‘brand why’ had become the filter by which all departments work to, whether they are a buyer creating the next best seller that will make someone feel great at the weekend, or a store team member going the extra mile to help a customer. This has become the centre piece of the company’s strategy, is at the heart of the brand, and has generated a cultural shift in the organisation, he said.