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Jan Runau has spent more than two decades at the sporting apparel giant and has been chief corporate comms officer since 2006. He did leave adidas briefly to work at Hugo Boss, but soon returned. His only other absence from adidas since 1991 was to take nine months parental leave.
In his current role, he oversees and directs the external and internal communications of adidas, and sits on the core leadership group.
A committed athlete who has completed an Iron Man triathlon, run marathons and cycled up mountains, Runau brings a similar level of dedication to his work for adidas. He helped the German firm navigate its way to the number two position in the global sports market after its blockbuster merger with Reebok in 2006. In 2021, he was named Best Company Spokesperson of the Last 20 Years by German PR publication PR Report, and has scooped Best Company Spokesperson of the Year four times.
A journalism graduate, Runau worked at several German newspapers before joining adidas.
Can you share a moment in your career when you saw PR's direct impact on business performance?
Luckily, in our industry we have the opportunity to drive PR around sport events, athletes and partners and products. Last prime example was the FIFA World Cup 2022, where we generated record sales.
What are the communications industry's biggest challenges and opportunities in the year ahead?
Biggest challenge: to communicate global businesses or global brands in a consistent way in a fragmented world. Biggest opportunity: to switch from story-telling to story-doing.
What have you most admired about the communications industry over the past year, and what has disappointed you?
I have admired its resilience and creativity. I see still a lot of potential to bring our company’s and brand’s respective purposes to life.
What work from your team are you most proud of over the past year?
I am most proud that as a team we could keep the reputation of our company up internally and externally, despite all challenges.
How have you switched off from work and maintained wellness over the past year?
By spending time with family and friends, preferably in the mountains or at the sea.
Which book/movie/TV show/podcast/playlist/other cultural source has helped you get through the past year or provided inspiration?
A great playlist including Coldplay, Sting and The Beatles always helps.
If I wasn't working in marketing/communications, I would be...
Teaching tennis to kids (which I already do on a voluntary basis).
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