I'm James Cruz
With a career in entertainment and marketing spanning over 25 years, James Cruz has lived the life of a talent manager, brand marketer, content producer and family man. Cruz is currently CEO of the cultural influence agency Think123, which fuses Cruz’s marketing and branding experience with his expertise in reaching the urban, Latino and youth markets to create high-impact marketing and branding campaigns in both experiential and traditional formats. Prior to launching Think123, Cruz served as President of Bad Boy Management and head of Strategic Partnerships for Sean Combs Enterprises (SCE), where he led Sean “Diddy” Combs’ team, including serving as Mr. Combs’ exclusive manager since 2009. During his time at SCE, Cruz was responsible for elevating the Sean Combs brand from a well-known music artist to a luxury lifestyle brand and tastemaker in fashion, media, spirits and sports beverages. Cruz played a key role in bringing the Aquahydrate
high-performance water and Deleon tequila brands to the Sean Combs Enterprises portfolio, and he also oversaw all Hispanic marketing for both Deleon tequila and Ciroc vodka.
Cruz’s expertise in multicultural marketing led him to launch Cruz Control Enterprises, a standalone consulting firm which provides brand marketing and consulting services throughout sports, media and consumer products, including Brand Jordan, 1-800-Flowers, Showtime Sports and Amaras Mezcal. Cruz Control also supports all marketing efforts for SCE brands, including Ciroc, Deleon, Aquahydrate and Revolt Network. In his capacity as President of Bad Boy Management, Cruz played a key role in building the careers of numerous global superstars, including 50 Cent, Nicki Minaj, Rick Ross and French Montana. Cruz also partnered with film and music video director Jessy Terrero and secured a partnership with Google to launch the “1-2-3 Uno Dos Tres” YouTube channel, which developed, produced and distributed custom content geared specifically to the Latin community. Prior to SCE, Cruz served as President of SRC Marketing Group, which provided brand management, marketing execution and content creation for corporate clients, including Sandisk, UFC and Fila’s baseball brand Verdero. Pursuant to a joint venture with Universal Records, SRC also handled marketing for Universal Records music artists, including Grammy Award-winning artist Akon and rising stars Asher Roth and Melanie Fiona. Cruz previously served as Senior Vice President of Marketing and Promotions for Violator Management, where he helped advance the careers of superstars LL Cool J, 50 Cent, Busta Rhymes, Missy Elliott, Mobb Deep and Sean “Diddy” Combs, among others. During his tenure at Violator, Cruz launched Violator Marketing Group and helped to secure brand partnerships for 50 Cent with Pontiac, Vitamin Water and Reebok; for Missy Elliot with Adidas; and for Busta Rhymes with Mountain Dew and Courvoisier. Cruz began working in the music industry as an intern at Mercury Records. Shortly thereafter, he joined Reebok as a marketing manager and worked on projects for Reebok’s lifestyle and sports divisions, including Reebok’s most successful endorsement relationship, NBA Hall of Famer Allen Iverson. Cruz was also part of a unique Reebok division known as the “Drop Squad,” which successfully reinvigorated urban sales for the sneaker brand.
Cruz was subsequently promoted to Global Entertainment Director, joining Reebok International’s global marketing team and helping to revitalize Reebok’s brand presence outside the United States. Cruz was recently awarded the prestigious Art for Life Award from the Russell Simmons Foundation. He has been voted as one of the 100 Most Powerful Latinos in Entertainment and landed on Source Magazine’s prestigious Power 30 list, recognizing the most powerful and influential individuals in the music industry. Cruz is actively involved in his community through ongoing charity work, the mentoring of aspiring industry executives and speaking engagements throughout the country. Cruz also sits on the Board of Directors of the NYC LGBT Center. Brooklyn-born and of Puerto Rican decent, Cruz originally eyed a career in Major League Baseball, before an injury forced him to give up the sport. He is a huge sports fan and an avid fisherman. He resides in New Jersey, and he considers having raised two strong, intelligent and ambitious daughters as his greatest achievement.