Top 50 Innovative Event Pros 2013: Ivan Wicksteed

Old Navy's chief marketing officer—who previously held a similar position at Cole Haan—specializes in creative, buzz-generating product launches.

By Mitra Sorrells June 12, 2013, 7:00 AM EDT

Ivan Wicksteed, chief marketing officer, Old Navy

Photo: Courtesy of Old Navy

Ivan Wicksteed believes “people are the new media,” and he’s planning to implement that philosophy at Old Navy, where he’s worked since April after leaving a similar position at Cole Haan. Within months of his arrival at the shoe brand in late 2011, Wicksteed orchestrated successful launches by creating engaging, memorable events that generated buzz on social networks and resulted in the products—the men’s LunarGrand wingtip and women’s Chelsea pumps—becoming top sellers for 2012.

“I think that the old world, which is sort of what I inherited, was very simple and easy,” he says. You bought media insertions in key publications and ran print advertising, managed a couple of photo shoots, and distributed assets around that. The new world is a lot more messy and labor-­intensive and difficult because you are managing multiple initiatives—experiences, and parties, and music, and content, and relationships. Traditional advertising is a relatively small component of the overall mix.”

“Don’t Go Home” was the theme for the women’s shoe campaign, which involved late-night dance parties, disco ball projections, and food trucks serving free grilled cheese sandwiches, all intended to convince women the Chelsea pump is the ideal shoe to wear all day and into the night. “To me, it’s really simple. Be really useful or really entertaining. I think most people that put on events would agree, but they don’t always live up to that. What people really want to go to is not just a party, but the best party they’ve ever been to in their lives. So we tried to make it a night ­nobody would forget.”

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