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48: It’s all about the climb: Marketing VP Craig Rowley takes REI higher

When Craig Rowley moved over to REI after 25 years on the agency side at creative shops like Carmichael Lynch, Borders Perrin Norrander, and Saatchi & Saatchi, he was already pretty familiar with them — he credits classes he took at REI with helping him summit Mount Rainier.

For him, REI is the perfect fit: a purpose-driven brand that isn’t all about the transaction. “Any company that taps into what people are passionate about in a brand: Is there a higher purpose that they stand for? Are they good corporate citizens? Do they treat their employees well? All these things matter,” says Rowley. He goes on to add: “There’s a tension in that. You’re kind of forcing people to make a choice or take a side. And when you do that sort of thing, I think it gets you noticed and kind of burns you into people’s souls.”

Highlights from this week’s “Marketing Today” podcast include:

  • Rowley talks about creating an agency vibe within a client culture. (3:24)
  • Building brands today: “It’s not just about selling stuff.” (5:28)
  • Purpose-built branding: “It’s not for the faint of heart.” (8:09)
  • Rowley’s take on the experience economy: “People are moving away from buying stuff to buying experiences.” (18:51)
  • “Any brand can have a purpose that is meaningful and matters.” (24:39)
  • How brands win: Sharing values to create customer loyalty. (28:25)