Engineering Education Helps Bob Jacobs Land Marketing Success

Tuesday, June 14, 2016
Bob Jacobs1

Brand new: Alumnus Bob Jacobs has directed successful marketing campaigns for some of America's best-known products, including Crest, Scope, and Duracell. "You have to continue to reinvent yourself. That's what marketers do," he says.

Whether running a marathon or tackling a grueling Ironman competition, Bob Jacobs relishes a challenge.

That's why the 1990 chemical engineering alumnus is the perfect person to carry the marketing banner for Sheraton and Westin hotels as their parent company, Starwood Hotels and Resorts, merges with Marriott to become the largest hotel chain in the world.

"I really just love business management and marketing," says Jacobs. Marketing involves both data analysis and creativity, he says. "It's the perfect balance of right brain and left brain."

Starwood named Jacobs Vice President of Brand Management for Sheraton and Westin's North American properties-more than 300 hotels-in 2011. Since then, his hotels have experienced increased market share and greater revenue.

Despite new competition from accommodation-sharing websites, hotel industry revenues have rebounded steadily since 2009 and observers expect record profits in 2016. To keep his brands strong, Jacobs has established new customer loyalty programs, including RunWESTIN which offers special services and amenities to the more than 50 million runners in the U.S., and also a partnership between Sheraton and Major League Baseball, catering to die-hard baseball fans.

"You have to continue to reinvent yourself," he says. "That's what marketers do."

Jacobs, whose track and field prowess brought him several school records and a spot in the Rose-Hulman Athletic Hall of Fame, cut his marketing teeth during 21 years with Procter & Gamble, which he joined as a manufacturing/production manager fresh out of Rose-Hulman in 1991. After attending business school at the University of Iowa, he joined P&G's brand management team in Cincinnati. Once there, he quickly helped the company become an early adopter of digital advertising and was part of the award-winning Scope "Send a Kiss" campaign.

Jacobs also directed marketing for Head & Shoulders, Crest, Pampers, and other P&G brands. He was also behind the successful use of human-powered bicycles to charge Duracell batteries to illuminate "2010" at midnight during New Year's celebrations in Times Square.

"That's one I'm very proud of," Jacobs says.

Although not working as a professional engineer, Jacobs says Rose-Hulman got him where he is today. A science, engineering, and math education teaches you to use logical thinking to solve a host of problems, he says.

"I wouldn't do it any other way," Jacobs says. "It's a great foundation."