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SBJ/March 20 - 26, 2006/Forty Under 40
Published March 20, 2006
MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL
• Age: 33 (turns 34 on March 28)
• Title: Senior vice president, corporate sales and marketing division
• League: Major League Baseball
• Education: B.A., political science, Tufts University, 1995
• Family: Wife, Gayle; son Michael, 2, and a baby due in May
• Career: Began career with Young & Rubicam, New York, from 1995-98; started first stint in corporate marketing with MLB in 1998; served as executive vice president and chief marketing officer of the Boston Celtics from 2002-04; returned to MLB in April 2004.
• Last vacation: Nantucket
• Last book read: “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” with my son; “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini
• Last movie seen: “Crash”
• Pet peeve: I would make a motion to remove the statement “I don’t know, we have never done that before” from the business world. When looking for new sources of revenue or marketing exposure, this one statement has killed more inspired ideas than any other.
• Greatest disappointment: Not having my father with me anymore to share my (and my family’s) life experiences.
• Fantasy job: Governor of Maine. Helping turn around the fiscal and political landscape in my home state would be a worthwhile challenge.
• Executive most admired: Howard Schultz
• Business advice: We are all our own brand … protect it, cultivate it and think long term.
By Eric Fisher
It's no doubt easy to sell sponsorships in good times. But when Congress was heatedly sparring with Major League Baseball last year over steroid use in the game, John Brody kept the money coming into baseball.
In a four-week span in February and March 2005 that surrounded Commissioner Bud Selig's embattled St. Patrick's Day appearance before the House Government Reform Committee, Brody, senior vice president of sales and marketing, played a key role in signing a quartet of corporate sponsors committing more than $125 million to MLB.
Not only did Brody and MLB get General Mills, Chevrolet, DHL and The Home Depot to sign on the bottom line, but they also held flashy press conferences at MLB's Park Avenue headquarters to trumpet the deals. The clear public message MLB sought to convey: We're still open for business, and the sport of baseball, as it always has, will survive the dark hours.
"There certainly was strategy there in what we did. But at the core of it was the simple fact we were able to work with these companies and help them leverage our brand to find a marketing solution that works directly for them," Brody said. "It's what we do for everybody, and a primary reason why we don't really churn through sponsors."
Since the white-hot intensity of last spring's steroid debate, Selig pulled off a historic coup, brokering with the players' union a second significant revision to the drug policy in less than a year. That, along with record leaguewide attendance, provided Brody with more ammunition to generate corporate sales and promotions. Last summer and fall Brody spearheaded the Chevy-sponsored Latino Legends program. He is nearing closure on renewals with seven corporate sponsors and could add Citgo to MLB's corporate mix.
With MLB again soaring toward record revenue and attendance this year, Brody faces plenty of operational challenges. Baseball's upper hierarchy is filled with strong and sometimes difficult personalities. And the separate existence of MLB Advanced Media, while producing its own financial success story and groundbreaking levels of league-generated content, presents a less-familiar sales structure to corporate America.
But Brody is widely seen as a peacemaker who deftly navigates through these issues.
"Major League Baseball is not as cohesive as perhaps some of the other leagues when it comes to rights," said Tom Fox, Gatorade senior vice president of sports and event marketing. "But John has such a calm, rational and focused manner about him, it makes a huge difference. He's an extremely bright marketer, and it would be difficult to do a deal without him."