Sharon McCarry

Marketing Manager, Benetton Sportsystem Canada (Rollerblade), MontrealSharon McCarry gained her first experience in the marketing world as a marketing co-ordinator with Reebok Canada.McCarry joined Reebok in June 1989, only weeks after graduating from McGill University in Montreal with a bachelor of...

Marketing Manager, Benetton Sportsystem Canada (Rollerblade), Montreal

Sharon McCarry gained her first experience in the marketing world as a marketing co-ordinator with Reebok Canada.

McCarry joined Reebok in June 1989, only weeks after graduating from McGill University in Montreal with a bachelor of arts degree, majoring in history.

In February 1990, she was promoted to marketing assistant, assuming supervisory responsibility for, among other things, three national trade shows.

In March 1991, McCarry accepted an offer from BMW Canada to become the auto firm’s event marketing project manager, responsible for national and regional sponsorship programs and special events.

Eleven months later, Rollerblade Canada, a division of u.s.-based Rollerblade, maker of Rollerblade in-line skates, hired her as its marketing manager.

In January, Benetton Sportsystem Canada bought a 50% interest in Rollerblade Canada in order to acquire the Canadian distribution rights to Rollerblade in-line skates.

McCarry is now employed by Benetton Sportsystem Canada as marketing manager on Rollerblade.

- Managed the BMW Masters Ski Series during the 1991/92 season.

- Overhauled Rollerblade’s product demonstration program in which Rollerblade ‘ambassadors’ travel across Canada in vans demonstrating Rollerblade in-line skates to potential consumers.

We asked:

Q. Are you a believer in marketing by science or intuition?

A. ‘Having had the pleasure of dealing with flagship corporations, I have been exposed to excellent marketers and some great `big ideas.”

However, since the firms were Canadian subsidiaries of global companies, market research resources were limited.

Therefore, manipulating what scientific data was available, along with intuition was the only guidline I have ever followed.

I believe that to instinctively know your product and your market [consumer base and retailer wish-list] really creates the guts of a solid marketing plan.’

Q. Who or what influenced you the most in your marketing career?

A. ‘My first teacher, the director of advertising at Reebok Canada, Robert Young. I followed Robert around to learn all of his talents as if by osmosis.

He is a brilliant marketer who taught me how important it is to `know your product, consumer, and what risks it takes to remain No. 1.’ ‘

Q. What is your favorite ad (not including ads with which you have been involved)?

A. ‘There are two ads from the Royal Ontario Museum’s 1992/93 campaign. They are `Bored Stiff’ and `Bug Your Parents.’ ‘

Q. What do you do in your spare time?

A. ‘Travel, travel, travel! When I am not working, I enjoy the adventure of social culture, history, reading, architecture, art, museums, the outdoors, good food, good wine and good friends.’

Q. What is the most recent book you’ve read?

A. ‘The Firm by John Grisham.’

Q. What do you love most about the marketing business?

A. ‘Execution and the end result – the sale.’

Creative/Strategic Sense

Sharon is charged with making sure Rollerblade’s various marketing programs are consistent with the brand, and I think she does a good job at that.’

‘Her strength was in incorporating her company’s [bmw's] corporate message into her event marketing programs.’

‘She has limited marketing funds to work with, so she has to be creative and innovative at using them. She does everything from hiring the people who do the demonstrations to working with the cities participating in sponsorship events.’

Management Skills:

‘The athletic industry is very much male-dominated, much more so than many other industries, but Sharon is an assertive individual, so that never really seemed to be an obstacle for her.’

‘She’s the kind of person who works with you to develop a concept, rather than pounding the table and saying `This is what we’re going to do.’ She brings you into the process.’

‘Sharon is an excellent organizer. She’s the kind of person who can keep six balls going in the air at the same time.’

Competitive Sense:

‘Sharon was always a go-getter at Reebok. When she joined, she was just starting out in the business, but she was never one to wait for someone else to tell her what to do.’

‘In many respects, Sharon is a classic marketer, but when there is a Rollerblade event taking place, she puts down the presentation folder, rolls up her sleeves, and helps set up the race cones.’


‘Anyone who can hang on, going from Rollerblade to Benetton, which is a huge marketing organization, is on top of her game. She’s still running the marketing show at Rollerblade, which means they must like what they see.’

‘Benetton Sportsystem opens up a whole new world for Sharon down the road. One of the things about Benetton is they are keen to develop from within.’

Next issue: Wayne Arcus, vice-president of marketing, Apple Canada.