SBJ/November 10 - 16, 2003/Forty Under 40

Jacqueline Parkes

Jacqueline Parkes wasn't ready to leave her job marketing Jim Henson's Muppets the first time she was pitched a position at Major League Baseball.

That first job, a position in MLB's licensing department, just wasn't the right opportunity, Parkes said, especially since she was moving up in the Henson ranks.

Several months after the first MLB opportunity came and went, league officials approached her again to discuss a spot as a director in advertising and promotion. This time she accepted.

Parkes said it was a difficult decision to leave Henson. She loved the company and working in entertainment. Still, she couldn't be more pleased to work in baseball.

The sport has been a passion for Parkes since childhood. Her dad was the New York Mets' team doctor from 1973 to 1991, so she "spent many a day and night happily" attending games.

"My parents always told me, 'Whatever you do, make sure it's something you enjoy and it's something you'd be able to do well,'" Parkes said. "Baseball is my passion and it's so much a part of the social fabric of this country. To me the sport demonstrates the principles and values and ethics that I believe in, so I feel good about promoting it day in and day out."

Since she joined the league in 1995, Parkes has steadily risen in the league's ranks. She was promoted to senior director in 2000, then in 2002 was promoted to vice president of advertising and marketing.

"She has a ton of energy and she has the right balance between having a clear vision and being forceful, yet being open-minded and being able to get a group on board with that vision," said Bob Gamgort, former president of Major League Baseball Properties. "She's able to deliver great results because of that and that's propelled her to the position she's in now."

Gamgort, who left MLB to join Masterfoods USA where he's now president, pointed to Parkes' ability to pick up on opportunistic advertising and marketing, such as her work during the 1998 home run chase.

Parkes, now as MLB's senior vice president of advertising and marketing, oversees advertising, marketing, research and design services. She also works with other league department heads on sponsorships, community relations and special events.

This past year she had her hand in the development of efforts such as the "This Time It Counts" marketing campaign during the All-Star Game and the "Ultimate World Series Pass," a promotion designed to drive viewership of the World Series by giving fans a chance to watch and win World Series tickets for life.

Parkes also is a member of a staff that works in support of MLB Commissioner Bud Selig's Commissioner's Initiative: Major League Baseball in the 21st Century. The group, which comprises top baseball execs as well as top marketing and television execs, is charged with putting together a blueprint for the future of the game.

Although she's only been in her current role for a little more than a year, Parkes' work in enhancing the league's relationship with its agency and the subsequent work that's come out as a result of their combined efforts "has been nothing short of revolutionary," said Tim Brosnan, MLB's executive vice president, business.

"[Parkes] is a terrific addition to our senior team," Brosnan said. "She's been very instrumental in bringing a strategy to the advertising and marketing of Major League Baseball that I think has been absent for many years. She is always looking to advance baseball's agenda and, perhaps more importantly, baseball's bottom line."

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