Former NAB marketer Michael Nearhos joins Virgin Australia as marketing director

Michael Nearhos has joined Virgin Australia as marketing director.

Nearhos is currently general manager of brand experience at NAB, but he will leave as part of a marketing restructure announced last month. He joins Virgin Australia after it too underwent a shake-up which saw the departure of CMO Inese Kingsmill.

Nearhos on stage at Mumbrella360

Nearhos told Mumbrella his return to the airline sector was exciting, but said it was too early to elaborate on his plans for the brand.

“It’s a very exciting brand that’s got enormous opportunity ahead,” he said. “It’s a return to airlines for me. Airlines and the customer experience are something I feel really passionate about. Being able to work with that and with such an exciting and dynamic brand makes the role very appealing.”

Virgin Australia’s relationships with agencies won’t be under immediate review, he said, noting incumbent DDB “has been doing a really great job”.

Nearhos noted Virgin Australia has a flatter structure than some competing organisations, with no CMO role since the departure of Kingsmill in November last year.

The marketing team will report to Nearhos, while he will report to Danielle Keighery, group executive of brand, marketing and public affairs.

Keighery said she was pleased to welcome Nearhos to the team.

“Virgin Australia is one of the most well-respected and loved brands and I look forward to having Michael on board to support our marketing efforts,” she said.

“Michael has extensive experience with implementing a range of major brand and marketing initiatives and generating significant results across traditional and digital channels.”

Nearhos has an extensive career history spanning both the airline and banking sectors.

He joined Qantas in 1993 as general manager of legal, before shifting across to business planning and then strategic marketing in 2000.

From there, he became head of customer strategy at insurance giant IAG for three years.

Nearhos then had a three-year stint in London as strategy director of Interbrand, before returning to Australia to take on marketing roles with the Commonwealth Bank and CommSec.

Next up was a contract gig as director of marketing strategy at News Limited, followed by another one-year contract with Virgin Australia as general manager of brand strategy and performance.

Nearhos then launched a boutique brand and innovation consulting company, Curious & Co.

He returned to the corporate world in 2013, as general manager of wealth marketing at NAB. He was briefly acting CMO for the banking brand, and then became general manager of brand and product marketing, followed by general manager of brand experience.

Nearhos begins his new role in September.


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