Wheels Up's Applbaum named to Forbes' top CMO list

By Doug Gollan, April 26, 2022

Wheels Up CMO Lee Applbaum joins peers from Adidas, AT&T, Cadillac, Gucci, McDonald’s, NBA, NFL, Salesforce, and UPS on Forbes’ pick of top marketing leaders

Lee Applbaum, the CMO for Wheels Up, is one of the 50 Most Entrepreneurial CMOs, according to Forbes.

The list includes top talent from Adidas, AT&T, Cadillac, Gucci, McDonald’s, NBA, NFL, Salesforce, UPS, and others.

It’s the first time the business publication has published the list.

Describing the criteria for its picks, Seth Matlin, Managing Editor of Forbes CMO Network, said, “The Entrepreneurial CMO is one who recognizes that the greatest risk sometimes lies in not taking one. They are beholden neither to the status quo nor to disrupting it for disruption’s sake. They are resilient, adapting to change and driving it, fueled by curiosity, creativity, and an ability to test, learn and connect dots in real-time.”

He added that the CMO picks have “an appreciation for the power of the three Cs that are community, creators, and culture, which they deploy as strategic levers in service of the fourth C that is commerce. At a time when the biggest threat facing most brands is irrelevancy, these marketers are fighting for brand relevancy and business growth with an unwavering commitment to making sure their marketing matters more.”

Wheels Up CMO

Forbes said it chose the Wheels Up marketing chief for its “because Applbaum brings the mindset of a consumer marketer to the world of private aviation.”

It noted, “The former CMO of David’s Bridal, RadioShack, Patron, and medical marijuana company Surterra Wellness, Applbaum has piloted pop-ups at events such as the Masters, Art Basel and the Super Bowl, and partnerships with American Express and Porsche, among other brands.”

According to Forbes, “By growing and diversifying the company’s customers and pilots, he’s sought to ensure Wheels Up does for flying what Uber and Airbnb did for ride-and home-sharing.”

Applbaum joined Wheels Up in December 2020. He helped oversee the refresh of its membership program last November. The changes enabled existing customers to protect preferred terms when other companies were making unilateral changes.

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