From athlete to advocate: How Kate Johnson drives brand investments in women’s sports

December 11, 2023

In 1995, Nike released an ad called “If You Let Me Play,” which emphasized the benefits of sports for girls and women at a time when fewer of them were encouraged to be athletes.

Kate Johnson remembers it well. At the time, she was a teenager in Oregon (Nike’s home state), and she had recently taken up rowing. The ad had a big impact.

Now, she’s a member of the International Olympic Committee, as well as the director of global sports, media, and entertainment marketing at Google—perhaps no surprise considering the impact the Nike campaign had on her at such an early age.

Becoming a brand marketing exec wasn’t always an easy path, Johnson said, but eventually, she worked her way into leadership positions that allowed her to make change not only at the companies she worked for, but in the world of women’s sports more broadly. Marketing Brew