Rocket Companies hires former Airbnb, Coca-Cola executive as its first-ever CMO

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Detroit-based Rocket Companies, parent of Rocket Mortgage, has named Jonathan Mildenhall to its newly created chief marketing officer position, responsible for the marketing and communications teams for all the company’s brands.

Mildenhall will create and unify a “compelling voice for all businesses under the Rocket Companies umbrella,” the company said in a statement.

He will start on Monday, Jan. 8.

A veteran with more than three decades in promoting large brands, Mildenhall served as the first CMO of Airbnb and led Coca-Cola‘s marketing as vice president of global advertising strategy and content excellence. 

In 2018, Mildenhall co-founded the branding and marketing consulting firm TwentyFirstCenturyBrand to increase the visibility of several brands, including LinkedIn, PepsiCo, NextDoor and Walmart. Mildenhall will remain chairman of the business. He is also a board member of GoFundMe and Fanatics.

As the first-ever Rocket Companies CMO, Mildenhall said, “It will be our mission to create integrated marketing campaigns that live up to the extraordinary social impact that Rocket makes every day.”  

Varun Krishna, CEO of Rocket Companies, said in a statement, “I have been highly impressed by the number of incredible stories we have to tell. Countless customers, team members and vendors have told us how working with Rocket changed their lives.” 

“I am looking forward to Jonathan and the team creating new and innovative ways to share these inspiring narratives with the world.”

Krishna, who started at Rocket in September 2023 to expand its fintech-focused strategy, was appointed to a newly created board position in late December. The company expanded its board of directors from seven to eight members to allow him to serve as a Class III director. Krishna succeeded Jay Farner, who announced his resignation in February 2023. Farner is known as the marketing whiz behind the groundbreaking “Push Button. Get Mortgage” campaign.

Like all mortgage lenders, Rocket has had its share of struggles in the downturn of 2022 and 2023. It lost money several quarters, but returned to profitability in the second quarter of 2023. Rocket then delivered a GAAP net income of $115 million in Q3, lower than the $139 million in Q2 2023 but better than the $96 million in the same period of 2022. 

In Q3, the company saw an increase in margins for its direct-to-consumer and TPO channels compared to the previous quarter. 

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