November 17, 2019
Output PDX Episode 21: Chris Murphy – Sr. Director / Managing Editor at adidas

Output PDX Episode 21: Chris Murphy – Sr. Director / Managing Editor at adidas


Welcome to Output PDX, the show about business, technology and creativity in The Bridge City. I’m Robin Vada and here today we’re talking with Chris Murphy who is the Senior Director and Managing Editor at Adidas. Thank you for having me. So tell me about Adidas you seem to be really on a roll right now. Yeah things are going really well, had a really good couple of years. Obviously you read all the articles and things happening right now with some momentum that we have in the market. A lot of it started back about two years ago, we had some leadership changes in the in the US and a renewed focus on this market, which I think really helped. We also moved a lot of our designers from a product standpoint to Portland, so having some designers with a bit more of a US focus also really helped and we launched a new brand campaign ,which has been running for now for two full years, similar message about creativity. If you’re watching right now, you see all that James Harden spots around the creativity as well. So the product, the focus on the US and the new marketing campaign, all those things combined have really led to some great momentum especially in this market in the U.S. Do you think not only the US market but also the Portland market kind of plays into that? Being based in Portland and that having that kind of vibe of creativity did that feed into this kind of new messaging you have? I think so I mean I’d like to think that. I love living in Portland I’ve been here for almost 20 years. I love the creativity and the ability to be an individual and be yourself in Portland and I think you know we have a campus in North Portland which has that vibe as well and I think that if you walk around our village and spend time with people there that’s definitely kind of the culture thats bread there, so I think that also really played into how we’re doing now. Yeah. So you work a lot with digital marketing and you’re kind of integrating that into the rest of what’s happening. Where you see that going and where has it gone like in the past 24 months for you? Yeah good question, I’ve always been in digital with Adidas to some extent, whether that was on e-commerce side or now working mostly in social and PR, but trends overall and how we’ve looked at digital, we’ve made it definitely a priority over the last couple of years. Just my job overseeing the US news rooms. We have 8 news rooms around the world and two years ago we decided social media and PR that earned and owned media space, is a space where we can really win and differentiate ourselves. So built newsrooms in nine of our key markets. I think that move into the digital space was a bit of a game changer for us really owning the earned and owned space for Adidas which was a bit two years ago probably new, now I think you’re seeing a lot more companies have newsrooms and take that approach. So I think having us do that two years ago really helped with some of our success and as we look to the future, how do we better integrate what we’re doing in that space with commerce? It seems in sports that social media is kind of integrated into the culture a little bit more than maybe in other industries. Do you find that can kind of helps you? I think so, you know it’s not when you think about that earned and owned media space it’s not just about all the things that we own there’s this earned environment as well and athletes and teams and leagues, all play a key role in that so whether it’s you know our work with the MLS and they have an amazing team that works in in social and PR and they’re very very good at that. If you follow the Portland Timbers you see the Timbers are very good from social media standpoint. So we work very closely with all of those people to get some of that earned love. We’re very acutely aware, of all the things happening around just our own space from a social standpoint. You are a speaker, you do a lot of kind of speaking around digital marketing and communications as well. You’re part of the Digital Ascendant and the Digital Collective can you talk about those? Sure, both of those are born from a woman named Susan McDermott who I’ve known for probably seven or eight years. The Digital Collective started here in Portland, she and her company kind of spawned out of out of here to run an event focused on digital marketing. I thinkI was the second or third person included and sat on that kind of border or counsel for a couple years. They were then purchased by another company, she started that the digital ascendant which is a an event that focus again on digital marketing, but more focused on people who are in the digital world and who are moving up in organizations to take leadership roles. So you talked about where digital is kind of going in the future what do you see what do you predict? Yeah I mentioned a little bit earlier i think you know we continue to try and find ways to seamlessly integrate all those digital pieces together to lead to commerce. I mean I know that you know we’re a shoe company, we’re a for-profit company. We do a lot of great things on the side that definitely give back to the community, but at the end of the day we do sell shoes and apparel and across the whole digital ecosystem whether that social, whether that’s Adidas.com, whether that’s the media landscape, whether that’s what we’re doing mobile, whether that’s a VR, we’re all trying to find a way to connect that better and not only connect it but then make it a little more seamless to purchase. I think that’s the future, obviously what we just saw it with amazon and amazon go, which is amazing you know they’re trying to do the same things a lot of us are. How do you make that experience better, easier, more seamless from a purchasing standpoint. Do you see that the trend that’s gonna take off? I don’t know we’ll see. I mean the first store is in Seattle so I’m excited to go up there and see how it goes, but I can imagine yes. What kind of innovations are you guys working on to make that seamless for your customers? We just partnered with a small company called Fooji who typically had been working with some of the networks and the movie studios out of LA during promotions to deliver food very quickly within an hour to people who had been active on social. So when Kris Bryant won the National League MVP, we worked with Fooji in Chicago, that if you tweeted us about Kris Bryant we would deliver you a t-shirt focusing on him winning the championship, within 60 minutes. So that first night over the course of about three hours we deliver 600 t-shirts the people in Chicago which was awesome and they obviously talk about that back and how amazing that they’re sitting at a bar, they tweet, and then we show up to hand-deliver t-shirts to them and all of their friends at the bar and then leave within an hour, they’re blown away by the fact that we can do that. There’s something there I think that was more free promotion kind of a fun thing for us to test. There’s something there in terms of the purchasing in the future, right especially at the city and local level where you can you can tweet or you can hit up anyway using a hashtag and then we can very quickly deliver product you you know in an hour. Is it about making things personal because it feels like sometimes you’re online and it’s so anonymous and it’s so impersonal and then all of a sudden if you’ve got something you know physical that happened because of what you just clicked, does that just make it more personal is that whats appealing? I think so, I mean the idea of personalization obviously is huge right now in digital, everybody wants to make the experience more personal to you. I think that’s the case for some consumers, some consumers just want product and they want it quickly. Whether it’s personal or not it’s like I want to put my credit card in and get this as quickly as possible- which for us is really true, we do have some amazing products that people want badly. Badly enough that they’ll stay in line overnight in front of a store, so in that case whether it’s personal not probably not. The follow-up to that though, might be more personal right so if you want to get your product you want it very quickly, I may know now more about you and that the next time, I know that you want X Y or Z and you want it fast, so that I can then hopefully deliver on. So the idea of personalization is definitely a hot topic in digital. What are you most excited about right now? I think some of the testing we’re doing with mixing social to commerce is what what I’m most excited about and some of the tests that we’re doing. You know, we’re also thinking about what role do bots play? Right this personal touch can you stay personal while using bots to answer questions in the social space. Social obviously is becoming very highly customer-service oriented, it’s not becoming it is very highly customer-service oriented. How do we manage that side of social while also maintaining this personal connection with people who aren’t just looking for where’s my order or when are these shoes available? There’s kind of two sides to that. Can we infuse bots into this discussion in a way that still makes it feel personal? Is there anything you’re doing specific to Portland? From a Tech standpoint and digital, we actually work with quite a few local companies. Little Bird is one of my favorite companies they’re located here, they do a great job helping us with influence or tracking and things like that so there’s quite a few tech companies that we do utilize. Urban Airship is also a company that we utilize. So, we have great relationships with some of the companies in Portland. I think as more companies and tech continues to build in Portland, I’m excited to reach out to those people and utilize them more to benefit Adidas. Well it seems that already Portland is a pretty small city comparatively, but we seem to be playing on a bigger scale in terms of digital and all those things, do you think there’s a reason for that? I think there’s a couple reasons, Portland is a super desirable city. There’s definitely a love for Portland out there so there’s some cachet for the city. I think that draws smart people here. I also think companies are looking at Portland and seeing that creative vibe, seeing a relatively lower cost of living compared to our city friends in the north in Seattle and then in San Francisco what I’m excited to see is you know as more of the bigger companies are purchased and some of that money comes back into Portland, see what happens like you know elemental technologies purchased by Amazon I think about a year year and a half ago, obviously some of that will come back in. I think you know puppet labs is doing its thing, you know Urban Airship, Womply just as growing their office here, so you have a lot of growth in that space here and I think that’s only going to continue. Well that’s exciting is there anything else you would like to share wish us today about what’s going on in your world? No it’s fast-moving I love it. It’s being in the digital space right now is very exciting it has been, I’ve been at it for almost 18 years and every year I think there’s this discussion about “this is the year of digital!” and “this is the year of mobile!” And I think every year is the year of mobile and digital, which is great for me, or people who are in this business because it is always changing it is always fast paced and if you want to be creative in this space it’s very easy to do. Well thank you for coming and talking to us today! Thanks for having me. Well that concludes this episode of Output PDX. We’ll see you next time.

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