Publisher Time hired executive Sadé Muhammad as its chief marketing officer Monday, making Muhammad the first person to fill the role since the publisher was acquired from Meredith Corp. in 2018 by Salesforce founder Marc Benioff and his wife Lynne Benioff.
In her new role, Muhammad will oversee the integrated marketing, customer success, branded content and communications efforts of Time, as well as its newly created impact division. She will report to chief executive Jessica Sibley, who joined the company in November from Forbes.
“Time is the world’s greatest storyteller, so there is an incredible amount of responsibility that comes with that,” Muhammad told Adweek. “With our centennial this year, we also get an opportunity to reimagine how we are speaking to our audiences.”
Prior to joining Time, Muhammad worked for seven years at Forbes, where she finished her tenure as the vice president of its representation and inclusion practice, which she founded.
The practice, a business-to-business advertising division, encouraged marketing partners to broadcast DEI as an underpinning to the growth strategy. As vice president, Muhammad led its business development, sales and marketing strategy, client relations and sponsorship execution.
Before Forbes, Muhammad worked for three years at NBC Universal, whose ranks she joined as part of its page program, and Black Enterprise News, where she worked as a freelance writer.
Muhammad will step into a newly created role, taking on areas of business that were previously led on an interim basis by Maya Draisin, the chief brand officer of Time, who had overseen its business-to-business marketing and branded content efforts.
Muhammad will now assume those responsibilities, while Draisin will return her focus to consumer marketing and brand development, where she will report to Ian Orefice, the president and chief operating officer of Time and Time Studios.
Navigating executive shuffle, a centennial and a recession
Muhammad joins Time at an inflection point for the publisher.
In November, president Keith Grossman announced he would be leaving the company. Grossman, who championed cryptomedia while leading Time, joined the cryptocurrency exchange MoonPay on Dec. 31. The cryptomedia division at Time will now report to Draisin.
Time’s centennial also falls in 2023, a pivotal branding and marketing opportunity that will fall to Muhammad. The publisher wouldn’t outline its specific programming plan for the occasion, which will kick off in March.
Time, like its legacy publishing peers, has struggled over the last decade to adapt to the digital transformation, changing hands in 2014, 2017 and 2018.
But under the Benioffs’ ownership, it has fast-tracked its digital transformation and branched into or expanded its presence in complementary lines of business, including an expanded events portfolio, a television and film studio and a website-building platform.
Now, facing a downturn in advertising spend and a wave of closures across the media industry—as well as 8,000 layoffs at Salesforce—Muhammad points to the brand equity of Time as an advantage in a challenging market.
“Brand trust is a precious commodity in this sort of environment,” she said. “Time has it in spades, which is critical in terms of winning in times like these.”