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Paul Beckles is an inspiration to many. His innovative leadership at Nike deserves recognition as a 2024 MTM Marketer to Watch. He joined Nike Inc. in 2019 as the Head of Global Brand Marketing for Converse basketball, where he spearheaded the brand’s revival in the sport after its decade of dormancy.  He then led marketing for Nike’s NBA and WNBA licensed businesses globally and, in the athlete brand space, played an integral role in the brand’s first-ever NIL basketball partnerships. As Director of Global Athlete Marketing, Paul acts as a CMO, leading marketing strategy development and planning for signature athlete brands, including NBA sensations Ja Morant and Devin Booker. Keep reading to learn more about his recent “Nike Book 1” campaign launching Devin Booker’s signature brand.

Family photo of a black father smiling, wearing a hat and tee shirt, a black mother in a white button down smiling, and their two kids, boy and girl smiling next to them

What gives me joy outside of work

Going to the gym with my little man, cheering on Philly sports teams, and discovering a new restaurant with the family.  

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Future of Marketing

Q: What widely accepted “marketing truth” or concept do you wish the industry would do away with or evolve? 

Let’s stop thinking that quantity over quality wins when it comes to content. I believe the right, well-produced, authentic story and culturally relevant piece of content will go further and have more impact. Spoiler alert: accomplishing that takes more time and effort.  

Q: What’s a prediction you have for athlete marketing over the next few years?

Co-creation and collaboration take brands to unfamiliar territory. The player-empowerment era is here to stay, and as athletes continue to mature in their interests and goals outside of their sport, they will continue to push the boundaries of partnership. Athlete insights and innovative thinking will drive ideas we can’t even imagine yet.

For example, imagine a home design inspired by your favorite athlete. It’d be cool to have a smart home that optimizes your wellness the same way elite athletes would and even integrates their personal style. What Will-i-Am did with Mercedes is another good example of how collaborations are evolving. 

Brand Marketing at Nike

Q: What’s something exciting you’re currently working on at Nike?  

Launching the Nike Book 1 and introducing the Devin Booker signature brand to the world. One of the main goals was to innovate the way this has been traditionally done in the past. The brand’s namesake is not your typical athlete, and he has inspired the way we are attempting to rewrite the playbook. I’m excited about the work we are doing with our signature athletes and the broader Nike basketball portfolio to help shape the future of the brand. 

Q: What’s the most pressing business challenge you’ve faced within the last year at Nike, and how have you tried to solve it?  

The most pressing business challenges for me aren’t all that unique. Economic uncertainty and fluctuating consumer demand have us in a daze, personally and professionally. The constant challenge of staying ahead (as best as possible) of the rapidly evolving world our consumers live in and being able to serve their needs while adding value to their lives, communities, and causes is enough to keep me busy. I’ve tried to attack these challenges by rethinking and unlearning how I previously approached serving consumers and, instead, meeting them where they are.  

Career and Leadership Advice

Q: What leadership muscle is most important for marketers to exercise?

Marketing leaders need to continue developing long-term visions and goals aligned with business objectives, keeping flexibility in mind.  It’s one thing to have the ability to adapt to changing market dynamics, consumer behaviors, and technological advancements. However, the ability to pivot quickly in response to emerging opportunities rather than challenges is key.

Q: What’s the most game-changing career advice youve received?

“Think brilliant. A good mind focuses on problems. A great mind focuses on solutions. A brilliant mind focuses on opportunities that lie within the problems – turn a problem into an opportunity” – Que Gaskins (Mentor) 

Marketers to Watch is a recognition series to spotlight highly innovative and forward-thinking marketing leaders in the community. If you have someone you’d like to nominate for the series, apply here.