SBD/December 8, 2010/People And Pop Culture

Catching Up With Hornets VP/Marketing Matt Biggers

The Hornets have been in the news for a variety of on-court and off-court reasons of late, ranging from the NBA's purchase of the franchise earlier this week to the team's fast, and somewhat unexpected, start to the season. Seeking to capitalize on the on-court success is Hornets VP/Marketing MATT BIGGERS, who joined the team in '07 after 11 years with the Magic. Biggers recently took time to speak about New Orleans and the unique challenges of marketing the Hornets with Staff Writer William Cooper.

Favorite thing to do in New Orleans: Taking my kids to City Park.
Favorite basketball memory: Our whole playoff run in '07-08, the first year the Hornets were back in New Orleans. It was a magical run through the playoffs, watching the city get behind the team and taking the Spurs to Game Seven. That whole run was just a great memory.
Favorite app: NBA GameTime. That's the one app I use.

Q: Who have been some your mentors throughout your career?
Biggers: Our president here, HUGH WEBER, is a phenomenal leader. I've learned so much from him. And then my boss for my entire time in Orlando, CHRIS D'ORSO. Both of those guys have been very influential in my career.

Q: New Orleans is still recovering from Hurricane Katrina. What are your impressions of how much the recovery has progressed in your three years there?
Biggers: This city and its people are extremely resilient. Everything that's been thrown at them, whether its been Katrina, the hurricanes following that, to the oil spill, this city continually bounces back. It has a spirit unlike any place I'd ever been before. This city is up and running and thriving, and is a great place to be.

Q: What challenges have these circumstances presented?
Biggers: There's always challenges, no matter what situation. We've had fairly unique ones, one with coming back to the city post-Katrina and getting the city to recognize that we were back full time. Probably our most recent challenge is the oil spill disaster and the effect that's taken on industry here in south Louisiana, which trickles down to all businesses here, including us.

Q: You have experience marketing both the Magic and Hornets in relatively small markets. What have been some major differences for you between the two?
Biggers: Probably a major difference is Orlando is much more of a transient city, there's a lot of people in Orlando who aren't originally from Orlando and Florida. People in New Orleans have been here for generations and are extremely proud that they're from the city of New Orleans, and support anything that's positive in New Orleans. That's really reflective in our marketing. This city has its own look, style, rhythm that is extremely unique to itself. A lot of times it's referred to almost as a country within a country because things are so unique and so distinctive. That's a wonderful thing to market toward.

Q: How has the success of the Saints over the last two years affected the Hornets and your marketing?
Biggers: Anything that's good for New Orleans is good for the Hornets. The success that the Saints have had really just rallied the city and brought out more community spirit toward their sports teams. There's some competition in the sense that it's another sports team and another entertainment dollar. But ultimately if it's good for the city, then it's good for us.

Q: Is there a sports business story that you are following closely right now?
Biggers: Digital media and its application and evolution. How it affects our marketing from a day-to-day standpoint, whether that's been Facebook or Twitter, or what's coming next, has been a real big focus of ours, trying to understand it and leverage it to its fullest.

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