All shots Courtesy Justin Andrews
ASB MAGAZINE: If the effects of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions are beginning to weight on you, spare a thought for those Aussies working from home in the USA, particularly those in New York City, the city that never sleeps. Say ‘New York’ and the mind conjures up crammed subway cars and swarming sidewalks, shared taxi rides and shoebox cafes. Eight million movers and shakers live in an area totalling 480 square kilometres. And 55 million more visits annually from faraway places, carrying faraway contagions. At the time of writing, more than 51,810 people had tested positive for COVID-19 in New York City. More than 1,375 had died, which accounts for nearly a quarter of the 6,055 total deaths in the United States. Compare that result to all of Australia, where the total cases (time of writing) was 6,695 and 80 deaths with 5,372 recoveries. They call Australia ‘The Lucky Country’, with lockdown restrictions in full force here, the ‘luckiest’ of the ‘lucky’ are surfers who (depending on your local council laws) are still allowed to surf for ‘essential exercise’.
Justin Andrews is no stranger to many readers of ASB Magazine. When we interviewed Rip Curl Founders Brian Singer and Doug Warbrick for our Professional Edition subscribers HERE they spoke of Justin as a ‘a bit of a star’ employee and seemed genuinely pleased to have observed JA’s stellar career at Oakley after coming up the ranks at Rip Curl very early in his career. “Justin was the son of a really close friend of mine and he’s now running Luxottica and Oakley, the whole show, over in New York,” Singer told ASBMAG.
Justin Andrews is the Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Oakley North America and Costa globally. The Oakley executive team is split between Milan, New York City and Foothill Ranch (California) – with the North America executive team sitting in New York City where Justin and family are in full lockdown. We reached out to JA with a few quick questions to see how he’s holding up and the impact of Covid-19 across the company.
ASBMAG: I just watched a film produced by a bunch of Aussies called ‘NY Tough’. Have you seen it ?
JA: Yes, it is amazing and puts a lump in my throat every time I see it. As an Aussie, I am beyond proud to have been adopted by the amazing city of New York two+ years ago.
ASBMAG: Can you describe the scene in New York right now?
JA: New York is surreal at the moment. The city known as the city that never sleeps, feels so different – people are really rallying behind the stay home mandate and the streets are empty. New Yorkers have been through adversity before and the response from the people here is inspiring.
The entire Luxottica New York City organization is working from home and has been for the last four weeks. I am in an apartment with my wife and three kids (12, 10 and 6). And let’s just say I have added teacher and physical education supervisor to my resume in the last few weeks. But my wife Amanda is the true champion as she does much more than me.
ASBMAG: Do you sense ‘complacency’ in Australia either in business or in government response to COVID-19
JA: No, but I do sense that there will have to be some hard decisions made in the next few weeks and months. The world is going to be a different place from now on.
ASBMAG: How many Oakley staff have been furloughed? What is the current state of Lux retail arm worldwide?
JA: At Luxottica and Oakley, our people define our success and business – we do not take any decisions that relate to our employees lightly. As have many companies, we have had to make some difficult short term decisions in order to protect our employees and business on a long term basis. We have a goal to get everything up and running with a full team back on board, as soon as we are able to do so safely. I do believe the businesses that can get through the short term without impacting the long term too much will bounce back quicker than most. This is our plan.
ASBMAG: Olympics play an integral role in Oakley’s marketing. What strategies are being used to mitigate that loss?
JA: We have quickly pivoted and are now planning for the Olympics being held in 2021. We already had some amazing plans for Japan this year, and with more time to plan we will be able to dial these up even further and create more impact.
Since the launch of the NFL partnership in North America, the brand is really starting to gain heat. We were substantially up on PY at the end of Feb (and 2019 was well up on 2018) and then it all stopped due to the pandemic. We are treating this as a pause that will be followed by very big brand push into H2.
The plan is to return bigger and better with the launch of our Love of Sport Campaign, NFL partnership, snow season, golf and heritage sport initiatives and more.
We will come into 2021 and the Olympics in a big way.
ASBMAG: Can you tell us about the #fortheloveofsport campaign?
JA: Despite the uncertainty that we are all facing, many are inspired to safely stay healthy and fit, so the Oakley Family has launched a new socially led brand moment #ForTheLoveOfSport. Over the last three weeks, we have posted a range of at home workout videos from Team Oakley athletes – from Bubba Watson and JuJu Smith-Schuster to Mark McMorris and Mikaela Shiffrin. We are encouraging our followers around the world to do the same and share their videos using #ForTheLoveOfSport.
Together, we can overcome adversity and stay game ready for when it’s GO TIME.
ASBMAG: Any plans to return to Australia?
JA: Australia is home for us but we do love the size, challenge and entrepreneurship of America. The life experiences our children have had in this country has been amazing. From going to school and making friends, to attending birthday parties in all five boroughs and riding the subway to school by themselves. It has been incredible.
There are so many work opportunities here however my family is the boss – I just work here!