Merging passions and creating change
By Stephanie D. Overton
Greg Galbraith ’89 knows the true meaning of being an influencer. He’s been behind the rise of some of the world’s most beloved brands — from Lexus to Nike to Converse, and now Russell Athletic. He was the advertising guru that helped propel the beloved Chuck Taylor All Star to iconic status. He understands how to manage and launch a new brand and, more importantly, how to merge those brands with lifestyles.
“I consider myself lucky,” Galbraith said. “After graduate school, I was able to land a gig with the award-winning Los Angeles agency Team One Advertising. There, I worked on the luxury automotive brand Lexus. They believed in their tag line, ‘The Relentless Pursuit of Perfection,’ and it came to life in everything Lexus executed — product, sales channels, advertising, PR, events, etc. Everything.”
Galbraith has had storied opportunities to merge his passions for advertising and sports in a career that epitomizes advertising excellence. He traces this interest back to his days as a DJ at WVRU, Radford University’s campus radio station.
“One of the best parts of working at WVRU was making public service announcements (PSAs) that we played during our radio shows,” Galbraith said. “Creating those PSAs was like making a traditional radio ad. The creative process hit a chord with me, and I realized advertising was what I wanted to do when I graduated. In hindsight, my undergraduate experience provided a great foundation for me to build on.”
Galbraith’s motto is “Always be prepared, think ahead and ask ‘what’s next?’” His vision prepared him for where he wanted to go in his career.
“When I took a job managing the Airwalk brand at The Lambesis Agency, I worked on one of the coolest, cutting-edge brands on the planet at that time (Airwalk was created specifically for skateboarding), and it was a dream come true. That experience led me to a 15-year-long journey that started at Nike and then to Converse,” Galbraith said.
Nike purchased Converse out of bankruptcy in 2003. When Galbraith left in 2016, he had helped Converse reinvent itself and grow into a globally relevant brand with over $2 billion in revenue.
“That experience allowed me to apply everything that I had learned up to that point — especially how important authenticity and storytelling are to creating demand for a brand that is over 100 years old,” said Galbraith.
Today, Galbraith is again hard at work as a change-maker who is reinventing another iconic brand.
“My Converse experience set me up perfectly for my current role at Russell Athletic. Both brands share a similar heritage and story,” said Galbraith.
In 2022, Russell Athletic will celebrate its 120th anniversary. As senior director of marketing, Galbraith is leading Russell Athletic’s rebranding effort and spearheading an industry evolution for the historic athletic company. He is managing the long-term strategy of the brand, driving brand message, overseeing all social and E-commerce channels, launching new products, etc. — all while inspiring a talented staff of industry pros. They are carving a place for Russell Athletic in a new market with well-known competitors — Adidas, Champion and Under Armour — in the lifestyle apparel market.
“Being able to work with all these amazing brands and doing what I love proves just how lucky I have been,” said Galbraith.
There’s a place for luck, but being a change-maker requires a vision backed by preparation. Galbraith continues to be influenced by the pursuit of perfection. With a focus on what’s next, he is enjoying every moment of merging his passions with a vision for grounding Russell Athletic as the lifestyle brand “designed for the everyday hustle.”