After a lengthy search process, Shannon Watkins has been named the new chief marketing officer for Jordan Brand. The former chief brand and marketing officer at Aflac Inc. will begin her term on May 16.
The move to the Nike subsidiary makes Watkins one of the nation’s most powerful black women in sports marketing. Watkins, who joined Aflac in 2018, was instrumental in the insurance company’s partnership with ESPN’s College Gameday while renewing the focus on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
Watkins replaces Sean Tresvant, who is now the global chief brand officer at Taco Bell. Watkins will report to CEO Craig Williams and takes over at a pivotal time for Jordan Brand, as purpose and culture continue to be at the forefront of the brand’s marketing push.
“We need innovative leadership, someone who can lead us into the future by pushing creativity, championing diversity, and bringing our purpose to life,” Williams said. “Shannon’s experience across multiple industries and business sectors will do just that, helping to lead our marketing efforts into the future.”
Williams, who like Watkins is a former Coca-Cola executive, hasn’t been shy about shifting Jordan Brand’s focus to the black community since the death of George Floyd in 2020, which he also believes will pay off financially. Jordan Brand’s revenue grew to $4.7 billion last fiscal year an increase of more than 30 percent. The company will report earnings next in June.
Jordan Brand has been credited with leading Nike’s post-pandemic resurgence, with some of the most notable athletes in the world—including Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott, Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic and New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson—promoting the company. Michael Jordan himself has also been more active in NASCAR, recently taking ownership of 23XI Racing, pegging Bubba Wallace and Kurt Busch as drivers.
(This post has been updated in the final sentence to clarify that Michael Jordan and not Jordan Brand have been active in NASCAR ownership, and also corrected the spelling of Watkins name in the fifth paragraph.)