Vans Names Global Chief Marketing Officer

Vans Names Global Chief Marketing Officer

Vans has named Drieke Leenknegt as global chief marketing officer, effective July 5. Leenknegt joins Vans from its VF Corp. sister brand, Timberland, where she also served as global chief marketing officer.

At Vans, Leenknegt will report directly to Kevin Bailey, global brand president at Vans, and will be a key thought leader for Vans’ growth and strategic direction. 

“As Drieke joins Vans, I am excited by what her leadership and in-depth experience will bring to our brand and how that will complement and reinforce our overarching business objectives,” said Bailey. “Consumers know and love our brand, but it will be under Drieke’s purview as global CMO that we’ll look to strengthen and deepen our connectivity with consumers everywhere to drive brand affinity.”

Leenknegt will reportedly lead the global brand marketing strategy to “elevate Vans’ creative vision and drive consumer engagement and experience across retail, brand and digital while helping fuel sustainable, long-term brand growth,” according to a company statement.

“I’ve long admired the purpose and conviction Vans has had through its marketing and creative efforts,” said Leenknegt. “I’ve watched Vans as a consumer, competitor and colleague, and I’m honored to now contribute to its storied history, drive the brand forward, and lead the incredibly talented team at Vans.”

Leenknegt led Timberland’s global brand marketing strategy to elevate its creative vision, drive consumer engagement and experience, connectivity of cultures, and fuel healthy, long-term growth. Prior to Timberland, Leenknegt was at Nike for 21 years, most recently as global VP of influencer marketing and collaborations.

Vans revenues were down in the company’s fiscal fourth quarter, declining 14 percent (-12 percent constant-currency) to $857.0 million, but VF Corp. management said during a conference calls with analysts they saw “encouraging green shoots from new product launches” and “increased focus on maximizing existing product platforms.”

VF Corp. Interim President and CEO Benno Dorer said the two emerging product lines of focus, UltraRange and MTE, were up 51 percent and 34 percent, respectively, for the period.

“We are just scratching the surface on these,” Dorer suggested. “We also demonstrated that we can energize Vans’ fan base when we have meaningful product news. In Q4, we had a highly successful start of our retro-inspired new school platform. This new shoe shows the potential to grow into a meaningful growth driver for Vans over time. A global Vans family membership grew to 28 million members by the end of Q4 nearly twice the number from two years ago. Clearly, there’s much work ahead of us, but there are encouraging signs for us to build on.”

The product pipeline is getting even energy these days as Vans recently unveiled its new pinnacle category, OTW by Vans, as a unique platform where the brand’s most elevated product and brand experiences merge with innovators of art, design, style, skate culture, and entertainment.

The Vault by Vans product chapter concludes at the end of 2023, opening the door for the launch of OTW by Vans in early 2024. It will have a distinctive e-commerce experience and be available through a globally-curated selection of wholesale partners.

Vans has struggled to find its way as the skate street lifestyle brand faltered in attempting to return to growth, particularly in the North American market.

North America reportedly remained challenging for Vans in the fourth quarter, with sales declining 18 percent in the region. Vans slipped 2 percent in constant-currency terms in the EMEA region. The lone bright spot was the APAC region where Vans was up 2 percent in constant-currency terms (-7 percent USD)in Q4, but sales were down 4 percent in reported USD terms.

VF management was clear to point out that they expect Vans to return to growth during the course of the second half of the current fiscal year.

Perhaps Drieke is another piece that has been missing as the brand pushed for a return to growth.