SBD/March 27, 2013/People and Pop Culture

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  • Minding My Business With MLS Fire Senior Dir of Marketing Linda Connors

    Connors embraces the creativity inherent in branding a relatively young franchise

    Chicago Fire Senior Dir of Marketing LINDA CONNORS spent most of the past decade as a marketing exec with the NFL and the Bears, and considers her role in launching "NFL 101" among her greatest accomplishments while working in the league. Now in her first year with the MLS club, she finds herself forming the identity of a new brand for a younger demographic. Connors talked with THE DAILY about collaborative marketing efforts between team and league, her most trusted medium to sell tickets, and even her favorite online music site.

    Best advice I've ever received... 
    It was from my mentor (former Sonics VP/Marketing) PAM MALONE. Marketing decisions take creative liberties. It’s not like ticket sales or sponsorship where you’re up against hard numbers, and I think it can be a little bit nebulous at times because everybody has an opinion. She sort of taught me her thought process every time she made big decisions. Everything really came down to the criteria of four things: Is it going to drive revenue? Is it going to match the brand? Is it going to deliver a quality experience for the consumer? Is it going to go to press? Whenever we came up with creative concepts, it had to meet that criteria. I’ve used that throughout my career.

    MLS vs. NFL...
    With the Bears, they are in a different situation. The challenge there was creating touch points for the fans. We created training camp, did things around the Draft, and things with marquee events that made sense around the football calendar. The difference with the Fire is it’s an opportunity to mold a new brand because it is such a new league. I get to be a lot more creative and have more flexibility to do so, and there’s a lot of grassroots that takes place in the MLS. The demographics are a lot younger in the MLS versus the other leagues. It’s the first generation really that grew up with MLS and became fans, so they grew up playing soccer and then become soccer fans.

    Teamwork with MLS marketing...
    I used to work with (MLS CMO) HOWARD HANDLER when I was at the NFL. They are very, very accessible. I work with them every week on things. They launched their first national campaign, “This is Soccer,” and they put together tool kits for the teams so that we had the opportunity to use it locally, which we did here in Chicago, and it’s called, “This is Soccer. This is Chicago.” They’re always there to give advice and guidance on so many levels.

    Best medium to sell tickets...
    I come from radio, and I think radio is a great medium for selling tickets.

    iPhone or Blackberry...
    I love an iPhone. I used to have a BlackBerry a couple years ago, and when I stepped up to the iPhone, it was like going from a black-and-white TV to a color TV. I just love the technology, and how easy it is to use, and that everything is right there.

    Latest music download...
    BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN, and I’m dialed in to Pandora.

    Stress reliever...
    Racing sailboats and golfing.

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  • Executive Transactions

    Xavier Univ. named Bowling Green State Univ. AD GREG CHRISTOPHER to the same position. Christopher, who will begin May 6, was "chosen to lead Xavier into" the new Big East less than a week after the school formally announced it would depart the Atlantic 10. He said starting anew in a freshly formed conference was "almost the best of both worlds" (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 3/27).

    EXECS: Univ. of North Carolina-Greensboro AD KIM RECORD has "agreed to a one-year contract, extending her tenure through at least June 30, 2014, and bumping her annual salary" up $10,000 to $185,000 (Greensboro NEWS & RECORD, 3/27)....SUNY-Oswego named Hilbert College AD SUSAN VISCOMI to the same position (SUNY-Oswego)....Fairmont State Univ. named former PGA Tour Greenbrier Classic Tournament Dir TIM MCNEELY AD (Fairmont State)....U.K. Sport Chair SUE CAMPBELL said that she "will retire this month" (LONDON TIMES, 3/26)....F1 team Williams promoted CLAIRE WILLIAMS to Deputy Team Principal. She also will "continue as commercial director" and be part of the company's BOD (AP, 3/27).

    Do you have an executive announcement? If so, please send to: editorial@sportsbusinessdaily.com.

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  • Names In The News

    Roberts was diagnosed with breast cancer in '07 and a blood disorder in '12

    ABC's "GMA" co-host and former ESPN anchor ROBIN ROBERTS will be presented with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the '13 ESPY Awards. Roberts, diagnosed with breast cancer in '07 and a rare blood disorder last year, said, "ESPN will forever be my home and when I got the call (about receiving the award) I was speechless. Arthur was a dear friend of mine ... and to now receive that award, it's totally surreal." She added, "It would have been a lot easier for me not to (go public), but when I know that it can bring greater good it just brings you so much comfort and it gives you purpose and I feel now, more than ever, that my life has purpose" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 3/26). Roberts received congratulations on Twitter. ESPN’s Stuart Scott wrote, “SO Proud of my friend @RobinRoberts Receiving Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the 2013 #ESPYS.” Roberts’ “GMA” co-host Josh Elliott wrote, “So happy and proud for @RobinRoberts, who'll receive the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at this year's ESPYs on July 17th. A wonderful honor....”

    BIRDS OF A FEATHER: TIME magazine’s list of the best Twitter feeds in sports included Grizzlies G TONY ALLEN, Saints QB DREW BREES, college blogger SPENCER HALL, Clippers F BLAKE GRIFFIN, U.S. hurdler LOLO JONES, Vikings P CHRIS KLUWE, Deadspin.com columnist DREW MAGARY, CBS Sports Network’s JIM ROME, U.S. women’s national soccer team G HOPE SOLO and tennis player SERENA WILLIAMS (TIME.com, 3/25).

    PLAYING POLITICS: The NHL Kings and MLS Galaxy yesterday visited the White House to celebrate last year's championships. President BARACK OBAMA "accepted jerseys" from both teams. Kings coach DARRYL SUTER "had planned to press Obama to allow the construction of the Keystone oil pipeline from Canada through the U.S." It was "unclear whether the coach brought the issue up" (LATIMES.com, 3/26)....U.S. Senate lobbying disclosures show that the Livestrong Foundation has registered to lobby on a number of different issues. Livestrong Government Relations Dir CAMERON KRIER "will be lobbying" on health care reform, tobacco control, sequestration, funding for cancer research, prevention and survivorship initiatives, insurance coverage and reforms, and global health funding and programs for noncommunicable diseases, including cancer. Podesta Group "lobbied on behalf" of Livestrong in '12, when it spent $160,000 on its efforts (POLITICO.com, 3/26)....Ravens WR TORREY SMITH "has worked as an intern" for U.S. Rep. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D-Md.). Ravens Player Development Dir HARRY SWAYNE helped "secure" the internship for Smith, who studied criminal justice at the Univ. of Maryland (BALTIMORESUN.com, 3/26)....Patriots DT VINCE WILFORK joined U.S. Sen. JEANNE SHAHEEN (D-N.H.) and medical experts at Hood Middle School in Derry, N.H., and “preached the importance of living healthy, active lives now to lower the chances of developing diabetes later” (BOSTON HERALD, 3/27).

    HOOP DREAMS: Former President GEORGE W. BUSH was “among the packed crowd” attending Baylor C BRITTNEY GRINER’s final home game against Florida State in the NCAA Women’s Tournament. Bush visited the teams “in their respective locker rooms” before last night’s game (AP, 3/26)....Vice President JOE BIDEN attended Delaware's NCAA Women's Tournament win over North Carolina last night at the Bob Carpenter Center (PHILLY.com, 3/26).

    ON SCREEN: UFC fighter GEORGES ST-PIERRE has been cast as villain Batroc the Leaper in “CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER” (LATIMES.com, 3/26)….Dodgers CF MATT KEMP filmed a segment for PBS’ “SESAME STREET” that will air tomorrow (FOXSPORTSWEST.com, 3/26)….NASCAR driver KYLE BUSCH will appear in an upcoming episode of FX’ “ANGER MANAGEMENT” (FOXSPORTSWEST.com, 3/26).

    CHARITY STRIPE: NASCAR and IndyCar team Owner ROGER PENSKE is among a group of donors who pledged $8M to "cash-strapped Detroit" to help pay for new emergency vehicles (AP, 3/25)....Heat G DWYANE WADE "donated 20 iPads and $75,000 for an iPad reading lab" in the "By The Hand Club" center in Chicago (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 3/27)....ESPN's DICK VITALE said that he "is hoping" to have Michigan State Univ. F ADREIAN PAYNE and his friend, 7-year-old LACEY HOLSWORTH, as guests at the Dick Vitale Gala to benefit the V Foundation on May 17. Holsworth is "battling cancer and is scheduled to have a bone-marrow transplant soon" (FREEP.com, 3/26).

    NAMES: Steelers Chair Emeritus DAN ROONEY in June will be inducted into the Irish American HOF (POST-GAZETTE.com, 3/26)....Former Bowling Proprietors' Association of America President JACK MORAN will receive the '13 Victor Lerner Memorial Medal on June 26 (BPAA)....The L.A. Times' T.J. SIMERS wrote while recovering from a mini-stroke he found out "a lot of people were ... rooting for me to recover," including UCLA football coach JIM MORA, who "emailed best wishes." Simers: "Never heard from JIM BUSS, and I thought I was his only supporter" (L.A. TIMES, 3/27)….SAC Capital Advisors Founder and Mets investor STEVEN COHEN has bought PABLO PICASSO’s painting “Le Reve” for $155M from casino developer STEVE WYNN. Sources said that figure is the “highest price paid by a U.S. collector for an artwork” (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 3/26)….Construction is underway in Cambridge, Mass., on Hit Wicket, a cricket-themed restaurant and bar created by restaurateur SHUBHA RAMESH KUMAR. Hit Wicket will “serve popular food from major cricket-playing nations and broadcast live cricket matches,” and will be the country’s first restaurant “dedicated to the ball-and-bat sport” (BOSTON HERALD, 3/26).

    Print | Tags: People and Pop Culture
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