SBJ/March 20 - 26, 2006/Forty Under 40

Peter Murray


By Daniel Kaplan
Staff writer

Peter Murray
Age: 38
Title: Vice president, partnership marketing and corporate sales
League: NFL
Education: B.A., Iona College, 1989
Family: Wife, Terri; daughters Amanda, 8, and Grace, 1
Career: Started out as an account executive with Young & Rubicam, New York from 1989-1993; moved to Bates USA in 1994 as account supervisor overseeing advertising for Miller Brewing Co.’s flagship brands; began career with the NFL in 1995 managing NFL Films’ marketing and sales efforts; promoted to vice president of NFL corporate media sales in 2000; assumed current position in 2003, with the addition of NFL International sponsorship sales in 2005.
Last vacation: The Bahamas
Last book read: “The Tender Bar: A Memoir” by J.R. Moehringer
Last movie seen: “The Pink Panther” with Steve Martin (it’s not the same without Peter Sellers)
Pet peeve: Settling for mediocrity
Greatest achievement: Becoming a father to Amanda and Grace
Fantasy job: Feature film director
Executive most admired: Jack Welch, former CEO of GE, and Paul Tagliabue
Business advice: Foster innovation and build a management team that has diverse bench strength.

Sometime this coming NFL season, the first journalist with a purist bent is sure to pen a diatribe against the latest alleged commercial excess in football: selling sponsorships to items such as the first-and-10 line and the red zone.

Known as enhancements or entitlements in marketing jargon, the NFL in its latest media deals secured those rights, meaning coming soon is something like "Instant replay brought to you by company X." Charged with selling those deals, and finding that perhaps impossible balance to appease the purists, is Peter Murray, the NFL's vice president of partnership marketing and corporate sales.

Enhancements are just the latest evolution of the NFL as a media company, according to Murray. It is simply selling content.

"You will continue to see a significant amount of … new content offerings beyond trademark rights that the NFL will be extending and delivering to these corporate partners," Murray said.

Sprint's recent sponsorship with the league was as much about the content rights that the wireless company received in terms of text-messaging as slapping its logo next to the NFL's. And new sponsor Burger King used NFL Films footage to have its mascot, the King, appear in ads designed to look like real games.

Murray started with the NFL in its NFL Films unit after a career in the advertising business. Ironically, selling the enhancements that have him so focused today was one of his first tasks with the sport. The 1998 media deals ended the practice.

He promises the league will avoid clutter by limiting the enhancements to only three categories a game, and then restrict how many times they can be used within the contest. If companies aren't satisfied with the existing technologies or areas of the field to sponsor, however, the NFL is working on new technologies that companies can latch their names onto.

Sorry, Murray won't reveal what the league has up its sleeve.

"Peter has done a great job of taking his media background and understanding and coupling that with a marketing savvy," said John Tatum, chief executive of Genesco Sports Enterprises, a marketing agency that counts NFL sponsors Pepsi and Coors as clients.

In terms of sponsorship deals, Murray also has been very busy. In the last three years, NFL sponsorship revenue has grown 70 percent, he said. In the past 12 months, the league has renewed with Coors, General Motors and MasterFoods, while adding Burger King, Prilosec, Sprint and Samsung. The next two categories Murray wants to fill are a financial services company as well as a packaged goods company that focuses on marketing to children.

Murray also has been a leader in creating new league marketing platforms, such as the NFL Kickoff weekend. This season, his focus will be on jazzing up the NFL draft and the tired Pro Bowl. Finding a presenting sponsor of the game is on the horizon, he said, something that will cause some purist somewhere to no doubt pick up his pen.

Back to 2006 Forty Under 40 list.

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