Fábio Tambosi was named as chief marketing officer at Saucony this spring, responsible for providing strategic development and execution of Saucony’s global branding initiatives, including brand positioning, direct-to-consumer, advertising, digital strategies, international growth initiatives and expansion of Originals. He reports directly to Saucony’s global brand president, Anne Cavassa. He joined Saucony with more than 18 years of global brand-building experience, most recently serving as global head of brand, planning and activation at Adidas, for the Sports Performance categories.
Why join Saucony, and why now?
Saucony was founded in 1898, just two years after the first Olympic Marathon and one year after the first Boston Marathon. Surrounded by that running history, the company was destined to become a leader in the running industry. With an unprecedented heritage in the sport, namely in culture and innovation, Saucony has the opportunity to once again propel running into uncharted territories in an industry that is craving a fresh new perspective to help get the world outdoors and, in turn, create a future that’s greater than good for a new generation.
Anything else that attracted you to the company?
The brand’s commitments to equity, diversity, inclusion and belonging, sustainable practices and the overall goodness of running, are values that resonate deeply with me.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic and all of its limitations impacted you personally and professionally?
COVID-19 was the tipping point of a more significant challenge that has impacted the world in many ways. We weren’t ready for this. Everything around us went on a pause. We lost control of our daily routines. Humanity wasn’t prepared to respond and embrace the challenges presented by 2020 and taught many of us the importance of humility in leading our lives, both personally and professionally.
Did anything positive come out of all of this?
It has given me the gift of perspective and the importance of slowing down in our lives. We are now way more intentional and present when spending time with our loved ones, colleagues and our community. Most important, it further clarified that integrity must be at the core of how we live our lives. It boils down to how we treat people and how we make decisions, personally, as leaders and businesses.
What do you feel you are bringing to Saucony at this point in your career?
I am very grateful for the opportunity Saucony has given me to be one of very few CMOs in the sporting goods industry that is representing the BIPOC community. At heart, I bring my perspective as a Brazilian father raising a daughter who doesn’t see enough people who look like her in marketing campaigns. It’s time to turn these moments into advocacy, inspiration and education with Saucony accelerating its focus on building a more equitable representation, both internally and externally.
How does your experience in sports and sporting goods add to your new role at Saucony?
Through my years in sports marketing and as an athlete I have developed a dynamic toolbox and a tremendous passion for inspiring millions of people through emotional storytelling, all while living a better life through the transformative power of sport. I am committed to leading the brand with a people-first approach built on a player-coach and athlete mindset to focus on winning as a team.
How would you describe Saucony’s position in the run specialty business in mid-2021?
We are confident that 2021 will be a strong year for Saucony, demonstrated by our record high double-digit growth in Q1 revenues. We are in our third year of a three-year turnaround. We are running faster than the marketplace, fueled by product innovation and our distinctly Saucony style. These will be our key drivers that set us apart from a very formulaic playbook.
Where does Saucony fit in with run specialty retailers?
We continue to win in many different arenas and run specialty is a key growth driver for us. As the best run specialty retailers continue to enhance their in-store experiences and community engagement, we are committed to supporting their renaissance and growth.
How do you envision that position evolving over the short and long term?
We’re continuing to drive deeper engagement with our consumers through product activation programs and services that meet the needs of our partners and the running consumer. We’re getting back to supporting in-person experiences through our Shadow Team as they resume store visits. We want to help run specialty welcome the “every runner” as they look for guidance and advice. And if run specialty didn’t have a presence online before COVID, it sure does now and we will support their digital efforts and help grow that area of their business.
What direction do you envision the company going?
Despite 123 years of countless successes, we will continue to operate with an underdog mentality Ñ and we love it that way. We thrive as a challenger brand, with an authentic story to tell about the joy and transformation that the simple act of running brings.
How does that translate into product for the runner?
For the runner, every step counts; the same can be said about our brand. Our commitment to sustainability, innovation, inclusivity and fostering community are all important steps forward as we strive to become the most loved and distinctive brand in our industry.
So your vision is É?
My vision is to lead Saucony with a humanistic, inspirational and real tone of voice and accelerate innovation across our brand, product and marketplace because when we innovate, we elevate our brand, the industry and, most important, every consumer.
How would you describe the state of the overall run business in mid-2021?
If the pandemic has had any positive impact, it got more people to embrace running as a form of activity towards a healthier lifestyle.
How does that translate into good for run specialty?
As the pandemic-driven growth of running continues to evolve with seasoned runners running more and new runners finding their pace, the demand for running technology has never been greater. Trail running is experiencing its own boom as people search for serenity and fresh air, with all signs pointing to continued growth through 2021.
On the product side, what can you tell us about the direction Saucony is headed in late 2021 and into 2022?
In my first two months journey, I am very confident in everything I’ve seen for both the second half of the year and the road ahead. Moving into late 2021 and into 2022, Saucony’s innovation roadmap is stronger than ever before and ready to elevate the game with incredible design and disruptive product offerings that make all runners faster.
Anything specific to talk about at this point?
What we’re most proud of is our continual innovation in sustainable design. Building on what we’ve learned from this year’s 100 percent natural Jazz Court RFG, and coupled with a huge update to one of our core apparel franchises and work across our entire performance line, 2022 will be a year of product intros that speak to our ongoing commitment to sustainability.
What are your personal passions and interests? Are you a runner?
Well, we are all runners! I am reconnecting with running again and started my journey to fully immerse myself in the running community.
How about a typical day?
My typical day begins with a healthy family breakfast. After that, I usually drive my daughter to school while we blast her favorite Disney songs in the car.
Sounds like a great way to start a day. What happens next?
I get back home and make sure I get my “sweat in” Ð either through a run outside or a workout on my home bike. I am a dreamer and passionate about helping people live their best life, whatever that might be. The future of education is one of my big passions; I love staying connected to my alma-mater, Clemson University, through teaching or serving on the board of The Erwin Center For Brand Communications.
Go Tigers! Finally, what would you like Saucony to accomplish next?
There is so much I would love to accomplish at Saucony. We are just starting. My goal is to create a timeless legacy and elevate the brand to a bigger and better place than when I joined the company.
How will that come about?
All of this will come in many forms. My promise is that we will create a more equitable, diverse and inclusive brand for our employees, athletes and the running consumer. Of course, when we reflect back in a few years, the brand will have reached its growth targets in a financial and sustainable way.