• SMS 2014: One-on-one with Vice Sports publisher Will Kiersky

    Kiersky: “The best way to grow is by telling really great stories and sharing good content and videos that people will want to share.”

    Even in a crowded sports media marketplace, Vice Sports still sees a clear lane of opportunity ahead. Will Kiersky, publisher of the fledging Vice Sports, was featured in a one-on-one interview to start the second day of the 2014 CSE Sports Marketing Symposium.

    “On one end of the sports media spectrum, there’s a lot of live event coverage and highlights of that, and on the other side, especially in the digital space, there’s a lot of opinion,” he said. “We saw a lane where we could focus on the athletes and storytelling.”

    Launched in June 2014, Vice Sports has already drawn the interest of some of the biggest names in sports, such as New York Knicks player Carmelo Anthony, which has come as a surprise to Kiersky. “We try to give athletes a platform to be as honest as they’d like to be, and give them a comfortable place to speak,” he said. “Carmelo’s people actually hit us up and told us he’d like to get involved, and it led to a different conversation about free agency than having a camera in his face in the locker room.”

    The new venture has attracted another audience that surprised Kiersky, as well: female readers. As with most Vice Media brands, the typical reader has fallen into the 18-35 demographic, but numbers that Vice Sports’ viewers are roughly 55 percent male and 45 percent female, which Kiersky said speaks to the strength of its female writing staff.

    While the site is still new, Kiersky said that Vice is already discussing what is the next big step While some plans include new initiatives, such as a short film series and an international look at the world of sports, he said Vice wouldn’t forget the one key that will continue to make it successful. “The best way to grow is by telling really great stories and sharing good content and videos that people will want to share,” he said.

    Other quick takes from Kiersky:

    On Derek Jeter’s new website, The Players’ Tribune: “I think it’s fantastic that there are new ways for athletes to tell their story. Often we forget they’re regular people thrust into extraordinary situations.”

    On his biggest concern about the launch: “Vice has a great reputation, but we don’t have a lot of currency in the mainstream sports world. We weren’t sure what reaction we were going to get from athletes, but it’s been great so far.”

    On bringing an established personality to the brand: “We like to develop young talent, so I don’t know if right now if that sort of thing would work.”

  • SMS 2014: SAP Spotlight: Using data to maximize performance

    Wheeler: "It’s all tied to financials, all tied to P&L reporting, all in real time.”

    In a presentation on Day 2 of the 2014 CSE Sports Marketing Symposium, Frank Wheeler of SAP Media and Sports Entertainment outlined how his company uses data technologies to help clients maximize performance. Wheeler pointed to three main areas of focus: The fan, the player and the business.

    On the fan: Wheeler highlighted his company’s engagement tools, such as the NFL Player Comparison Tool and the NBA Stats website, as well as fan databases to help target individual interests. “It starts with a transaction history. They go into surveys. They go into web. They’re collecting more and more mobile information… How can they leverage that data to gain more insight on the fan and engage with him on more of a one-to-one basis?”

    On the player: “Wearable technology is big. I know the NFL is looking at sensor data for the players. The NBA is currently using the SportVU camera system in every arena across the league. Capturing that information and sharing that information with the team, with the coaches, with the players, with the fans, working with those types of organizations on how they can better visualize that data and get the best out of that data.”

    On the business: Wheeler highlighted the tools that SAP has running in SAP Arena in Mannheim, Germany, as an example of the how analytics can help a sports franchise. “The manager of the arena can be sitting in a suite tied into a management dashboard where it’s changing real time on revenue he has for tickets, what type of tickets – season tickets or individual tickets. He can look at how many beers he’s sold, how many schnitzels he’s sold. All of that data is available through the systems that they’re using through POS and the backend solutions. It’s all tied to financials, all tied to P&L reporting, all in real time.”

  • 2014 SMS: Faces in the Crowd

    Here are some of the people we spotted during the reception at the end of Day 1 of the 2014 Sports Marketing Symposium.

    Tags: CES, ING
  • SMS 2014: Ideas that move us forward: Cross-Cultural Marketing

    Cross-Cultural Marketing

    Tony Harris, Al Jazeera English, moderator
    Jennifer Jones, AT&T Mobility
    Kenny Mithell, NASCAR
    Roberto Ruiz, Univision Communications
    Marc Strachan, Diageo

    The central theme of the Cross-Cultural Marketing module on Day 1 of the 2014 CSE Sports Marketing Symposium was that the whole notion of cross-cultural marketing is a thing of the past.

    “Multicultural marketing or diverse marketing or cross marketing, whatever you want to call it, is just Marketing 101, ladies and gentlemen,” said Marc Strachan, vice president of multicultural marketing for Diageo. “Let’s get rid of the titles. Let’s get rid of the silos. If you are a marketer, there’s money in them there hills and you’d better go after it.”

    Kenny Mitchell, managing director of brand and consumer marketing for NASCAR, cited the change in broad demographics as reason to reject marketing specifically to individual ethnicities. Mitchell: “If you look at a world where one out of two babies that are born are [people] of color. If you look at marketing to millennials, 40 percent of them are of color. If you are doing that in a silo you are doing yourself a disservice. We are marketing to the sports world. We are marketing to fans. We are marketing to the U.S., and the U.S. is diverse.”

    “What is important is that you are inclusive and that you think about multicultural consumers from the get-go,” said Roberto Ruiz, senior vice president of strategy and insights for Univision Communications. “You do this holistically. You think about this as a comprehensive package, not as an afterthought.”
    Jennifer Jones, AT&T vice president of diverse markets, said that a diverse audience will inevitably be included when marketers tap into the things consumers care about. “Everyone has passions, and sports is a passion,” she said.

    “Look at millennials now, in particular,” said Mitchell. “If something doesn’t look the way that they’re used to the world being shown, they’re going to feel uncomfortable. You’re actually disinviting them by showing a world that doesn’t reflect who they are, who their friends are and what their world looks like.”

    While there is progress in this area, said Jones, it is still a challenge to create top-down, companywide support. “It remains a journey,” she said. “It’s a journey against the inertia of how we’ve always done things.”

  • SMS 2014: Ideas that move us forward: LGBT Community

    Reaching the LGBT Community

    Kate Fagan, ESPN, moderator
    Robert Boland, NYU
    Patrick Burke, You Can Play
    Layshia Clarendon, Indiana Fever
    Kristine Friend, Marriott International
    Hilary Shaev, WNBA

    Brands that fail to market sincerely to the LBGT community are missing out on serious growth opportunities, according to a group of panelists on Day 1 of the 2014 CSE Sports Business Symposium.

    The panel, which focused on the LGBT community as one of “Ideas That Move Us Forward” discussions at the conference, was moderated by ESPN writer Kate Fagan and included Robert Boland, professor of sports management at New York University; Patrick Burke, the co-founder of You Can Play; Indiana Fever guard Layshia Clarendon; Kristine Friend, senior director of segment marketing for Marriott International; and WNBA Vice President of Marketing Hilary Shaev.

    “I think there’s three ways brands can [interact with the LGBT community],” said Shaev. “One is do nothing, two is market to, and the third and the best would be to engage with.”

    Friend said she takes this point of view when forming Marriott’s Love Travels campaign. “When you can kind of get at the core of what the sense of belonging means to somebody, regardless of who they are, I think you can really engage,” she said, “and that person just aspires to be a part of your brand, be part of what you’re doing.”
    The panelists cited the Love Travels campaign, the WNBA’s pride initiative and Nike’s social media success with its Be True campaign as successful examples what can be accomplished by properly engaging with the community.

    “The only reason left why you would not be diving in head-first is because you don’t get it and you’re not paying attention to what’s going on,” said Burke. “There’s no risk involved. Any metric will show you that. There’s billions of dollars being left on the table by [the marketing] industry.”

    Added Boland: “There will be people who will be left on the sideline because they don’t think they need to be there. It never hurts to push the envelope.”

    The panel also discussed a change in the way that women, both straight and gay, are portrayed as representatives of brands and organizations. The traditional notion of selling the sex appeal of an attractive female athlete is in decline, according to Shaev.

    “Sex sells sex,” she said. “It doesn’t sell tickets to sporting events. What becomes sexy is authenticity. It’s about athletes portraying themselves on the court as exactly who they are.”

    When asked about the broad attention given to gay male athletes like Michael Sam and Jason Collins, Clarendon spoke of how the lack of coverage for lesbian athletes hurts the community. “It speaks to the assumption that if you’re an athlete and you’re a woman, you’re a lesbian, because you would never play sports because you like them,” she said. “We have to give [gay women] the same publicity. We have to make it just as big of a deal.”

    Tags: ESPN, Indiana Fever, Marriott, WNBA
  • 2014 SMS: Faces in the Crowd

    Here are some of the people we spotted during the afternoon networking break on Day 1 of the 2014 Sports Marketing Symposium.

    Tags: CES, ING
  • SMS 2014: Panelists say there's no question the college sports business model will change

    Changes in College Sports

    Ed Desser, Desser Sports Media
    David Greenspan, Winston & Strawn
    Ramogi Huma, Nat'l College Players Assoc.
    Michael McCann, Univ. of New Hampshire

    The momentum to pay college basketball and college football players has become so intense that it’s likely to happen soon, according to every panelist in an afternoon session at the CSE Sports Marketing Symposium titled “College Sports: The Changing Relationship with Athletes and the Implications on Sports and Sports Marketing.”

    SMS 2014 Podcast:
    College writer Michael Smith and Executive Editor Abraham Madkour discuss the hot-button college panel from Day 1 of the 2014 CSE Sports Marketing Symposium in New York.

    The panelists agreed that there’s no question that the college sports business model will change based on the O’Bannon and Jenkins antitrust court cases. The only question is how much it will change. Ed Desser, president of Desser Sports Media, predicted that 30 years from now, people will look on this era of college sports as being as quaint as the way that people view the college sports era of the early 1980s. Saying that paying athletes will hurt college sports "is more of a visceral reaction to change than anything based in fact," Desser said. “It’s almost amusing that we’re debating what players should get. College sports has been so successful, there’s a bounty of money that was unthinkable 30 years ago.”

    Desser, who was called as an expert witness during the O’Bannon case, said a review of court documents showed how the NCAA is operating as a professional sports league. Desser: “There’s no pretense at the NCAA that the revenue side of college athletics is anything but a professional operation.” Ramogi Huma, president of the National College Players Association, said college football and basketball “are not amateur sports. They are pro sports… Amateurism [in college athletics] is not a moral issue...it's a financial issue.”

    Huma said NCAA rules need to be reformed, pointing to Louisville player Kevin Ware, who broke his leg during a Final Four game in 2013. Huma said Louisville had the option to not pay for the player’s medical expenses and could have stripped his scholarship. "We've been fighting for basic protections for [college athletes] for over a decade." Huma said colleges could find money to pay athletes by putting a portion of media revenue in a trust fund until athletes complete their degree. He dismissed criticism that paying college basketball and football players would hurt women’s sports and non-revenue sports. He predicted women’s sports would wind up with more funding. "Title IX is the law of the land,” he said. Huma also suggested that college athletic departments have plenty of areas where they can cut costs, from paring travel for non-revenue sports to pulling back on construction plans. "Don't build facilities with waterfalls, trap doors and slides,” he said.

    David Greenspan, partner with Winston & Strawn, said players should be compensated in some way. "Revenues are being generated,” he said. “Games on TV are being watched largely because of the kids playing the games." Desser suggested that relaxing some NCAA rules, like allowing players to do local endorsements, would boost interest in the game.

    Tags: Basketball, Football, Media, NCAA
  • SMS 2014: How cause marketing helps corporations win beyond the playing field

    Winning beyond the playing field

    Tom Brasuell, MLB
    Flo Bryan, CSE
    Michael Robichaud, MasterCard
    Chad Royale-Pascoe, Boys and Girls Clubs of America

    When cause marketing is authentic and is not simply the result of a transactional relationship, it can be a huge win not only for non-profit organizations and the communities that the cause supports, but for the corporations that are involved, as well. A panel of professionals from both sides of the marketing table agreed that when organizations and corporations partner with causes that they both care about and share similar goals with, the result can be a huge success.

    “You can’t just take a check and say, ‘Fine, use my logo,’” said Flo Bryan, senior vice president of cause and diversity marketing at CSE. “It has to be authentic, and it needs to be a story that is integrated well. It’s all about being able to hit multiple passion points for the consumer.”

    There also has been a shift in thinking among the causes in the industry, as well, said Michael Robichaud, senior vice president of global sponsorships at MasterCard. “It used to be the case that when the one person who cared about the cause left a corporation, that’s when the check stopped coming,” he said. “Cause-based organizations now understand that the partnership has to be mutually beneficial over time.”

    Chad Royale-Pascoe, national vice president of corporate and cause partnerships at
    the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, said that one of the most important steps on the road to that beneficial relationship is to be very clear on the goals of each party. “Each partner we work with has different goals and results in mind regarding our relationship, and it’s much better when we’re up front and honest about what sort of goals we have in mind,” he said. Royale-Pascoe highlighted his organization’s relationship with Buffalo Wild Wings, in which the restaurant chain is measuring the success of its partnership by the number of kids who sign up for team sports.

    Quick takes from the panel:

    On interest in partnering:
    Tom Brasuell, vice president of community affairs at MLB, said that while the league has even more interest from sponsors in being aligned with the league for a cause, as well as from the causes themselves, it’s now choosing those relationships carefully. “We actually have a lot fewer than we used to have, as we have decided that we wanted to go with partners that are really interested in the specific causes,” he said.

    On the extended reach of cause marketing:
    Robichaud noted that MasterCard’s sports cause marketing partnerships have resonated with the female audience, a result that wasn’t necessarily intended but proved to be something the company is proud of.

    On shared success between company and cause:
    “You can do good by doing good, and there’s nothing wrong with that,” said Bryan.

    Tags: MLB
  • SMS 2014 Podcast: Analyzing the college panel

    College writer Michael Smith and Executive Editor Abraham Madkour discuss the hot-button college panel from Day 1 of the 2014 CSE Sports Marketing Symposium in New York.

    Among the comments:

    "The bottom line is that the model is going to change. Is it going to change somewhat, is it going to change drastically, that's what's to be determined."

    "That's frightening. If you're a commissioner or if you're an athletic director and you've done business one way for the last 20 to 30 years, and now what's being proposed is an open-market system — free agency, players with agents — that's a completely different model. And I think that's what frightens the administrators now and has them so much on the defensive. That takes them in a direction where they're not sure how to operate."

    "I think it's probably naive to think that Olympic sports and women's sports will not be impacted somewhat. … It's going to have an impact."

    Tags: Colleges, SBJSBD Podcast
  • 2014 SMS: Faces in the Crowd

    Here are some of the people we spotted during the luncheon networking break on Day 1 of the 2014 Sports Marketing Symposium.

    Tags: CES, ING
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