SBJ/October 8-14, 2012/Game Changers

Game Changers: Kim Brink

Photo: COURTESY OF KIM BRINK
Away from her marketing duties, Brink works
on The Proper Possible Movement, her nonprofit
startup company.
Kim Brink
NASCAR
Managing Director, Brand,
Consumer and Series Marketing

Kim Brink has a track record of transforming brands.

When General Motors tapped her to become director of advertising and promotions at Cadillac in the 1990s, the brand was struggling with an aging consumer base and plummeting sales. She was charged with developing a campaign that appealed to young consumers but didn’t estrange loyal customers.

In 2002, Cadillac unveiled “Break Through,” a series of spots around its XLR, CTS and Escalade lines that featured Led Zeppelin’s frenetic “Rock and Roll.” The campaign is credited with boosting Cadillac sales 16 percent that year and reducing the average age of CTS buyers from 65 to 55 by 2005.

Nearly a decade later, Brink is trying to achieve a similar feat at NASCAR. The sanctioning body last year hired her as managing director of brand, consumer and series marketing in hopes she could help it develop new marketing initiatives that appealed to young and multicultural consumers but didn’t estrange NASCAR’s aging and loyal fan base.

“It’s like trying to thread a needle,” Brink said, “but that’s what I like to do.”

—Tripp Mickle
  • What advice would you give to yourself 10 years ago?: Don’t think you can control your future. You can’t imagine what is around the corner.
  • Person who had the biggest influence on your career in sports: NASCAR CMO Steve Phelps. He embodies the values I admire in effective leaders.
  • Woman in sports business you’d most like to meet: Virginia McCaskey, owner of the Chicago Bears, because I think at age 89 she would have tremendous stories to tell, wonderful perspective and probably some real good advice on how to succeed in the sports business.
  • One attribute I look for when hiring is …: A lack of patience with the status quo and a curious mind.

WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING

“In a way, marketing is like a sport. You’ve got to understand the competitive landscape, your assets, your team, your competition. The best marketers have great situational awareness of the competitive landscape and [are] able to deploy their assets in the best light. Kim is very, very skilled at that. At GM, she could work with the agencies, the dealers, the team at Cadillac and get alignment behind the marketing activities. She’s really going to plus-up the entire effort in terms of visibility and connecting with the fan base at NASCAR.”

  • Mark LaNeve, COO, Global Team Ford, WPP Group
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