Lululemon's Irreverent Pose Gathers Buzz

The search for a new CEO at Lululemon has commenced with the same sauciness that propelled the brand into our consciousness over the past decade in the first place and with the same decisiveness that saw it through its see-through-luon-pants crises more recently. And it is, of course, generating lots of buzz in the process.

Everyone from Ad Age to CNNMoney to the Associated Press is covering the Vancouver, B.C.-based company’s irreverent posting on its website and Facebook page for a new leader to fill the shoes of departing CEO Christine Day. 

The job description reads: “You report to no one, you are the CEO (duh). You are passionate about doing chief executive officer type stuff like making decisions, having a vision and being the head boss person.”



Among the activities in “a day in the life” of a Lululemon CEO the ad cites:

  • You are disciplined, focused and can hold headstand for at least 10 minutes …
  • You break all the rules like getting your OM-on (loudly) whenever the urge arises …
  • You wear The Mansy to lead our company-wide morning chant and kombucha ritual.

And then there are a baker’s half-dozen “finer points” such as “You actively live and breathe the Lululemon culture -- on Friday afternoons you hit up wheatgrass and tequila shots (it’s called work/life balance).”

“So far, 160 people have applied for a joke job posting for Lululemon's recently-vacant CEO spot,” Emily Jane Fox reported on CNNMoney yesterday. But it’s covering it bets through traditional channels as well.

“The company also announced ‘the Board has formed a search committee and enacted its CEO succession plan,’ which doesn’t bode too well for those who throwing their hat in the ring via the company’s careers portal,” writes Francesca Donner in the Wall Street Journal’s “Corporate Intelligence” blog.

As Marketing Daily’s Sarah Mahoney observed last week in her coverage of Day’s resignation after five-and-a-half years as CEO, effective after a successor is found, the company still managed to beat expectations last quarter despite the product. And as Day herself pointed out in a conference call with analysts, “the silver lining is that this caused us to take a big leap forward in owning our technical expertise.”

Time’s Christopher Matthews writes that not only did Day handle the luon fiasco astutely –- recalling the product immediately and firing the Chief Product Officer summarily -- “the company’s stock has risen in value from under $4 per share in March of 2009 to a high of more than $80 before Day’s resignation.” And, tellingly, it dropped 12% on the news.

“With this kind of track record it would seem very odd if Day is leaving under anything but her own accord,” Matthews says, pointing out that “it’s critical to the firm’s fortunes going forward that whoever replaces Day will be able to continue her winning formula.”

The equation, like E=MC2, looks deceptively simple and just about everybody strives for it: “Lululemon has succeeded by not just selling yoga pants, but an image, a lifestyle, and a unique shopping experience. Yoga enthusiasts are drawn to the discipline for its spiritual and physical benefits, but also for the sense of community it provides.’

But Lululemon has succeeded where others have only copied and pasted the tenets into their business plans.

Day tells Fortune in an email that “there is no difference in strategic vision for the company” between her and the board going forward but reporter Colleen Leahey writes that “there’s certainly more to the story.” Day continues in her email:

“My values include discretion. While I know everyone would like to know 'the reason' [I'm leaving] there are some things that should remain private because the truth is the good things outweighed the bad and by being respectful and grateful one can remember that.”

There is no public timetable for the transition but one had to assume it will be sooner rather than later if the board heeds the advice of its own manifesto: “The world moves at such as rapid rate that waiting to implement changes will leave you two steps behind. Do it now do it now do it now!”

Meanwhile, RBC Capital markets analyst Howard Tubin tells the AP’s Mae Anderson that Lululemon's pose in the employment ad “should not be taken too seriously.” Quoth Tubin: “It's in keeping with the fun and irreverent way they like to approach their business. It's a quirky way of them addressing the situation.”

(Duh), as Lululemon would have it.

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