Wheels Up taps former Grey Goose, Patron CMO Applbaum to lead marketing

By Doug Gollan, December 2, 2020

Wheels Up has appointed Lee Applbaum to a newly created Chief Marketing Officer position

Wheels Up has appointed marketing veteran Lee Applbaum to the newly created position of Chief Marketing Officer. Applbaum will lead all strategic marketing and brand positioning for the company as it integrates its multiple acquisitions from the past 18 months. It has also launched a whole aircraft sales group and rebranded its private jet management arm.

“I have known and respected Lee for many years. Anyone who has worked with him knows he is a marketing guru, a branding expert, and a true master of his craft,” said Kenny Dichter, Wheels Up founder and CEO.

He added, “He is a great addition to our Wheels Up team as the addressable market continues to grow, and we make private aviation accessible to more individuals and businesses.”

“I’m energized by the opportunity to join a company like Wheels Up, a trailblazer in the industry with marketing prowess, forward vision, and huge growth opportunity,” said Applbaum. “Kenny is a remarkable leader with an incredibly talented team, and I am excited to expand on what’s been built already and propel the brand forward for the future.”

Most recently, Applbaum served as CMO at Surterra Wellness, a fast-growing wellness lifestyle company. Prior, he was Global CMO for Patrón Tequila and Grey Goose Vodka at Bacardi Global Brands Limited, overseeing the fully integrated marketing and innovation efforts across more than 165 countries. This followed the successful $5.1B sale of Patrón to Bacardi in 2018, where he also previously held the CMO role.

Applbaum has led marketing and sales across various household name brands throughout his career, including Target Australia, Federated Department Stores, and The Coca-Cola Company. He received a BBA from The University of Texas Austin and his MBA from The University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Adweek Brand Genius honored Applbaum in 2015, and he was named Business Insider’s “Most Innovative CMO” in 2017. He will be based out of Dallas and New York, reporting to Wheels Up Founder and CEO Kenny Dichter.

In an interview with Cambo News, Applbaum said, “I’ve been blessed to work with brands that are both iconic and disruptive, and those are two words I would absolutely use to describe Wheels Up…It established itself very quickly as a real disruptor and innovator in space and as a brand that has a real boast.”

Speaking about his plans, he said, “What (Wheels Up does is) technologically complex, but the customer experience is deeply analog…We are in a digital world, and the shift from analog to digital business is a crucial factor in democratization.”

He added, “We want to open up the industry and create a space for how Uber and Amazon have taken an idea and woven it into the fabric of our society…It should be as easy to get a private plane as it should be to order a Domino’s Pizza or an Airbnb.”

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