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'13 CSE Sports Marketing Symposium: Capitalizing On Entertainment, Sports Crossover

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Panelists discussed the good and bad from the intersection of sports and entertainment
"Connecting with Consumers through Sports and Entertainment Platforms" was the theme of the final session of the '13 CSE Sports Marketing Symposium. Discussing the success and pitfalls of the intersection of sports and entertainment were Time Inc. Sports Group President Mark Ford, Gillette Global Sports Marketing Dir Greg Via, WWE Senior VP/Global Sales & Partnership Marketing Michael Pine, and NASCAR VP/Entertainment Marketing Zane Stoddard. "Entertainment is a vehicle to deliver new audiences to our story," said Stoddard. "What was happening with Jeff Gordon around the track five years ago was adequate. Now people want to see him around his house. We're seeing more stuff happening off-field and off-track. You want stories that are appealing to general audiences." Stoddard shared one example of how merging pop culture with NASCAR could go wrong and right. "We had 50 Cent at the Daytona 500 and he tweeted a few things that we would not have scripted," said Stoddard. “There are inherent risks, but there is upside. He followed up with a few tweets about how amazing the race is and how there was more diversity than he expected. It got more than 10 million views." Ford said that the desire to merge sports and entertainment led to the creation of Extra Mustard, the pop culture section of Sports Illustrated and SI.com. "We need new franchises," Ford said. Asked how he would decide if any new initiative was not working, Ford said, "If they're not sharing it, it doesn't stay very long." Citing Gillette's association with athletes such as NFLers Victor Cruz and Clay Matthews, Via said, "We wanted people that appeal to general audiences. We do 360 degree activation. It's on TV, digital, it's in-store, it's everywhere. We don't sit on the sidelines with it. We need guys with a bigger personality that are willing to come along with us."

QUICK HITS:

--Pine, on pro wrestling's seamless integration of entertainment: "We control our own story lines. It's scripted! Sorry, for anyone who didn't know. Entertainment and sports comes together for us in one nice package."

--Ford, on the annual SI Swimsuit Issue: "There's no question that swimsuit is a great franchise for this legendary franchise. It reaches 70 million people and has generated a billion dollars in revenue. "

--Stoddard, on the aftermath of the limited appeal of Ron Howard's F1-themed movie, "Rush," which cost $30M to make and grossed $10M in the U.S. in its opening weekend of wide release: "It's doing okay, not great. (NASCAR) has a project at Universal. If our movie was ready to come out now, they might be in more of a wait-and-see mode."

--Via said that the company's agreement with Capitals LW Alex Ovechkin calls for his facial hair to be, "well-trimmed, not Grizzly Adams." During the NHL playoffs, when growing beards has become a tradition for players, Ovechkin is entitled to go grizzly. Via also said that Gillette has some endorsement deals with a few international soccer players that will be announced soon.
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