RM Williams brings on DDB NZ chief as new CMO

Chris Willingham joins the iconic Australian manufacturing and retail brand as its marketing chief

Chris Willingham
Chris Willingham

RM Williams has brought on former DDB New Zealand managing director, Chris Willingham, as its new chief marketing officer.

Willingham boasts of more than 25 years’ brand experience, largely working across agencies locally, regionally and internationally. He has spent the last two-and-a-half years as managing director of DDB New Zealand. Prior to this, he was global director on Nike at Wieden + Kennedy based in the US, and oversaw campaigns for the 2016 Olympics and 2018 World Cup.

His resume also includes a stint leading BBDO’s Singapore hub as well as nearly nine years with London-based Fallon, where he rose to managing partner and world on campaigns such as Cadbury’s ‘Gorilla’ and Sony’s ‘Balls’. In addition, Willingham had seven years with TBWA London as an account director, where he ran the pan-European PlayStation account and oversaw work such as the ‘Double Life’ and ‘Fun anyone’ campaigns.

Willingham steps into his new role in coming weeks. He replaces Mathew Hayward, who left RM Williams in March after spending four years in the CMO seat.

Speaking on his appointment, Willingham said he was looking forward to stewardship of a famous, culturally important brand and helping to drive the next phase of growth nationally and internationally. South Australia-based RM Williams is 89 years old this year and has recently undergone a change in ownership, being wholly acquired by Tattarang in 2020. The purchase marks the return of the brand to Australian hands.

“I bought my first pair of Craftsman boost when I travelled through Sydney during the 1990s and fell in love with RM Williams there and then,” Willingham commented. “This is a unique, once-in-a-career opportunity and it’ll be an absolute privilege to work together with the RM Williams team to lead the brand through the next stage of its evolution.”

Tattarang chief investment officer, John Hartman, welcomed the experienced brand leader to the team, noting his contribution will be critical in accelerating the brands’ new growth strategies across digital channels and international markets.

To help with these ambitions, RM Williams recently appointed media agency, Audience Precision, to provide insights, global media strategy and offline media buying across 12 markets including Australia, the US, Canada, the UK and several European markets.

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