Profile: Rubber Soul - Bobbie Parisi, Global Marketing Director, Dr Martens

Marketing, August 25, 2004 | Go to article overview

Profile: Rubber Soul - Bobbie Parisi, Global Marketing Director, Dr Martens


Bobbie Parisi has been in the UK for only a month, and she's already off on holiday to Barcelona. This is not typical of the American brought in two years ago as global marketing director of Dr Martens with a brief to put the bounce back into the rubber-soled brand.

It's no secret that Dr Martens - once the must-have footwear for any self-respecting mod, skinhead, punk or grunger - has struggled financially over the past five years, having failed to keep pace with changing lifestyles.

As a privately owned company, the latest available figures are for 2002, when it reported a pounds 24m loss, but the lack of any major ad campaigns in the past four years has meant the brand has faded from consumers' consciousness.

'We always kept a core customer, but as sneakers became more popular during the 90s and people dressed more casually, we failed to evolve our product to meet their needs,' admits Parisi, whose experience as a global marketing director for Nike gives her a unique insight into Dr Martens' competitors.

The company's Covent Garden offices are further evidence of its troubles.

The deserted upper floors of the six-storey building carry old Dr Martens signs covered in dust, while the ground floor, once the firm's flagship store, is now a souvenir shop. But the noise from floors one and two, which house the marketing and design teams, is an indication of the brand's return to health.

To spearhead its revival, Parisi, described by colleagues as someone who often acts 'above and beyond the call of duty', made the decision to relocate central marketing from Portland, Oregon, to London, where she believes 'the heart' of the brand lies. The city will feature prominently in future marketing, starting with the global 'Outside of ordinary' campaign from September.

Although she says it's time for a holiday, Parisi is already looking ahead to 2006, when she hopes to introduce a merchandise collection, including bags, accessories and clothing, in a bid to restore credibility to the brand.

The 47-year-old is not the stereotypical brash American. She is generous with her time but modesty stops her from talking at length about her career.

She's more casually dressed than the average board-level marketer, sporting jeans, vest and, yes, Dr Martens sandals. …

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