CMO 50: Vicky Free

Head of global marketing, Adidas

During a time when sports were canceled, Adidas rose to the challenge. Under chief marketing officer Vicky Free, Adidas doubled down on advocacy and resilience campaigns, asking people to imagine a world with equality in sports. 

Free joined Adidas as head of global marketing in November 2020, maintaining its image as a brand that rises to the challenge. She steered Step Out to the Future, a campaign that depicts exactly how Stan Smiths are recycled from single-use plastic. She was also behind the original series Impossible Is Nothing, which featured inspirational figures who have persisted and achieved, including Beyoncé and South Africa’s first Black rugby captain, Siya Kolisi.

This year, Adidas found itself in the crosshairs of protests and boycotts after participating in the Better Cotton Initiative, which ended cotton purchases from the Chinese Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR). The end of the affiliation led several Chinese influencers to end their contract with the brand based on the claim that the sanctions on China are unjustified. 

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