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Breakthrough with Julian Leeper article image - text on screen Innovate, Achieve, Inspire

'Breakthrough' with Julian Leeper - Innovate. Achieve. Inspire.

In this new series, we ask our people to define what 'Breakthrough' means to them, both from a career standpoint and a personal note.

Our next issue features Julian Leeper, Global Strategy and Product Lead at EssenceMediacom (adidas group).

What does ‘breakthrough’ mean to you?

Cracking a solution that both your granny (and board members) would say WOW.

That solution must be simple to describe, clearly solving a need with a lasting tangible benefit.

The breakthroughs that grannies admire the most have a positive impact on people’s lives.

Check out adizones. Still hugely popular today.

What’s been the most inspiring personal breakthrough in your life?

Realising that I don’t need to smoke.

And that it was a major source of stress.

Throughout 25 years of unwavering commitment I tried everything to escape.

Neither scaremongering nor alternatives worked, it was a simple reframing that did the trick.

I will always love smokers, but I feel reborn since.

What was the breakthrough moment in your career?

Moving to Shanghai to run a sportswear brand’s media across Greater China.

I was taking a massive punt. I’d only been to China once before.

It turned out to be a springboard career move. I loved the people, the culture, learnt a tonne and had a great time. An amazing experience.

Tell us about a piece of work you were involved with that you would define as a breakthrough.

Helping runners run safely in China via a simple tech solution. In cities, runners check a pollution app before exercising. We added indicators to alert runners when it was OK to run outside or better to workout inside (linked to training apps). It’s been used hundreds of millions of times.

What breakthrough in this industry - achieved by someone else - do you really admire? What do you admire about it?

The disruption of the fitness industry by community powered brands.

Like Peleton x TikTok, rebranding by jumping into #fitness with 401BN views.

Think Lululemon. Or Gymshark x creators, building a $1.45BN brand.

This type of community powered cultural energy is subverting marketplaces previously thought impossible to break into at scale.