• Podcast: NFL 'Behind The Headlines'

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    NFL writer Daniel Kaplan, sponsorship reporter Terry Lefton and TV writer John Ourand talk about the NFL in crisis, whether it's affecting the league's business and what's next in this week's NFL "Behind The Headlines" podcast.

    Among the comments:

    "This is really just posturing. These brands want to let the public know, and the politicians, that they're on the right side of the domestic violence issue."

    "All these companies kind of rattling their sabers a bit, which is unusual, are all public companies, so they saw some exposure there and wanted to take care of that. What most of the media misses on this whole thing, while this is the worst NFL PR black eye in memory, all their business metrics are at or near an all-time high. … So I don't think they should worry from a business perspective yet."

    "It's interesting to see these marketers say anything at all in the court of public opinion because generally marketers are a timid lot."

    "(The NFL has) to realize, they're all but a government entity now. … They need to realize they're going to be held to a higher standard, whether that's fair or not."

    Tags: NFL, SBJSBD Podcast
  • Goodell speaks to media; additional hiring part of NFL’s expected changes

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    The NFL next week plans to announce a high-profile female hire, the second such hiring in as many weeks as the league looks to add more gender diversity in the wake of the domestic violence scandal that has roiled the league in the last two weeks.

    The development comes after Roger Goodell’s 43-minute-long press conference today, in which he outlined cooperation with the NFLPA on crafting a new personal-conduct policy. That is a sea change for Goodell, who appeared willing to cede some of his ultimate authority in deciding punishment for player misbehavior.

    Goodell not only admitted the Ray Rice suspension of two games was an error, but also that the process of considering punishment was broken.

    Before the press conference, Robert Gulliver, the NFL’s executive vice president of human resources, said next week the NFL would be making another high-profile announcement about a female hire. The position will be at least a senior vice president. The only rank higher at the NFL, other than commissioner, is executive vice president.

    This week, the NFL hired Cynthia Hogan, a former deputy assistant to President Obama, as senior vice president of public policy and government affairs.

    Many of Goodell’s executives attended today’s press conference at the New York Hilton in midtown Manhattan, including Gulliver, Joe Siclare, the league’s chief financial officer, and Mark Waller, the new executive vice president of international. Waller is the outgoing chief marketing officer.

    Asked about Anheuser-Busch’s statement this week expressing strong disapproval of the NFL’s performance, Waller responded he had not heard from the beer maker.

    Goodell, when asked in his press conference about whether he had heard from A-B or talked to its representatives, did not answer directly.

    Tags: On The Ground
  • Getting To Know The Game Changers: A Great Day

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    We asked the members of this year’s class of Game Changers to complete the following sentence:

    It’s a great day at the office when ... ?

    Here are their responses.

    Alex Baldwin: Deals get done.

    Renee Baumgartner: I know I have made a difference in a student athlete’s life.

    Kim Bohuny: I can be proactive and not reactive.

    Christine Brown: My dog isn’t barking; I work from home.

    Mary Byrne: We break a story.

    Stephanie Cheng: We help a client close a sponsorship or naming-rights agreement.

    Sandy Cross: I’ve made a positive impact on someone’s life.

    Stephanie Druley: We’ve created something memorable on the screen as a team.

    Donna Fiedorowicz: The team is smiling and enjoying the journey.

    Kelly Flanagan: I leave knowing that I helped make somebody’s day better.

    Karen Forgus: We’re serving Skyline Chili in the press dining room.

    Erleen Hatfield: We issue construction drawings.

    Sue Hunt: The team is positive and everyone is talking about all the new ideas they have.

    Gail Hunter: We successfully execute a cross-department initiative.

    Beth Hutter: During the final round of a golf event, several players are all tied for the lead. While it’s exhilarating, it presents a challenge in trying to figure out the best way to broadcast it since, in golf, all those players could be hitting their shots simultaneously. I love having that challenge!

    Julie Kikla: We get a note from one of our partners thanking us for our support or teamwork.

    Heidi Massey-Bong: We won on Sunday.

    Bernadette McGlade: Everyone’s happy.

    Michelle McKenna-Doyle: I get to visit with our clubs or fans.

    Kimberly Meesters: I can get out of the house and to the office by 7 a.m. Early morning is quiet and a great time to focus.

    Marla Newman: We are not in the office and are out meeting with clients learning how we can help achieve their marketing goals.

    Anne Occi: Energy is flowing and plans are falling into place.

    Jay Parry: I feel the hum of activity and enthusiasm from my team.

    Kristen Rose: I spend time with clients. It is all about the relationships for me.

    Jennifer Sabatelle: There is no drama and we get to take a minute to realize how fortunate we are to be working in the sports industry.

    Heidi Sandreuter: Someone on my team gets recognized for their creativity and contribution.

    Meredith Starkey: I get to leave before 7 p.m.

    Maribeth Towers: One of our projects comes to fruition exactly as planned.

    Ali Towle: I solve a problem that seemed unsolvable.

    Ronnie Tucker: My team is in sync working to achieve a common goal and they know they have made an impact.

    Alyson Walker: Teamwork is proven to be successful.

    Alison Weber: Our team lives up to one of our mantras: “Nobody is as smart as everybody.” It’s all about great collaboration and inspired work.

    Pamela Wheeler: Everyone is smiling.

    Andrea Williams: The staff is engaged and excited about an upcoming event. The air is electric.

    Tags: On The Ground
  • Staff writer John Ourand, radio host Dan Patrick discuss controversies swirling around the NFL

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    SBJ/SBD media reporter John Ourand went on The Dan Patrick Show Wednesday to talk about the implications of the NFL’s domestic violence and child abuse controversies in the wake of Anheuser-Busch’s statement that the longtime league sponsor was “increasingly concerned” about the incidents. “That’s the first sign of any kind of commercial erosion. Basically, now there’s like a scintilla of a notion that it might hurt the business.”

    Tags: NFL, Media, ING, Ally
  • TV Timeout: Feeling Minnesota

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    ESPN's Pablo Torre said, "A corporation, like the Vikings or Nike or Anheuser-Busch, they don’t have consciences, they have cost/benefit analysis and what they are seeing is that the marketplace of ideas is shifting. We're finally getting enough noise to make it unprofitable to support a player like Adrian Peterson" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 9/17). NFL Network's Mike Silver said of the Vikings’ Wednesday press conference, "Left unsaid was, 'We faced a tremendous amount of pressure from sponsors, from our business partners … and from fans" (NFL Network, 9/17). ESPN's Jason Whitlock said, "These corporations associate their brands with the NFL and pay hundreds of millions of dollars and so (the players) have a responsibility to uphold themselves and to present a great image for the league so the corporations want to remain attached to that NFL brand and clearly Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, Greg Hardy and some other NFL players have damaged the brand" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 9/17). ESPN's Keith Olbermann said, "Even with its track record on child labor, Nike thought Peterson was toxic" ("Olbermann," ESPN2, 9/17).

    FRONT AND CENTER: SNY's Marc Malusis said of Roger Goodell, "His league is under an utter state of barrage each and every day" ("Daily News Live," SNY, 9/17). ESPN's Michael Wilbon asked, "Why is Roger Goodell simply issuing more policy or statements but not answering any questions?"  ("PTI," ESPN, 9/17). CBSSN's Jim Rome, on Goodell: “Owners are paying him an excess of $44 million a year to prevent things from happening. Come out of your bunker, get in front of a camera and own this disaster that this shield is becoming” (“Rome,” CBSSN, 9/17).  

    AGENTS OF THE SHIELD: Former NFLPA President Kevin Mawae said of owners hiding from the media, “My personal feeling is it's your team. Suck it up, stand up there and take the hit. You are the face of the franchise, not the quarterback. Get out there and take charge of this” (“The Herd,” ESPN Radio, 9/17). Comedy Central's Jon Stewart said the NFL ‘s handling of its current off-the-field issues, “It's the kind of firm decision-making we've come to expect from people who don't know what the (EXPLETIVE) they're doing” ("The Daily Show With Jon Stewart," Comedy Central, 9/17). ESPN’s Mike Greenberg said of Panthers Owner Jerry Richardson, “This is difficult stuff and it’s above the pay grade of someone like (GM) Dave Gettleman and frankly he shouldn’t be answering these questions. Jerry Richardson should be answering these questions” ("Mike & Mike," ESPN Radio, 9/18).

  • Getting To Know The Game Changers: Causes/Charities You Support

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    We asked the members of this year’s class of Game Changers:

    What are the causes or charitable endeavors you actively support?

    Here are the responses that were provided.

    Alex Baldwin: My husband and I actively support Golf Fights Cancer.

    Renee Baumgartner: Susan G. Komen, United Way, Syracuse athletics, Central Catholic (Ore.) High School.

    Kim Bohuny: UNICEF, Habitat for Humanity.

    Christine Brown: I’m commissioner of the Princeton (N.J.) girls softball league, and I support the EOD Warrior Foundation.

    Mary Byrne: Interlochen Arts Camp in Northern Michigan, and the Missouri student newspaper, The Maneater.

    Stephanie Cheng: Reading to Kids, and the Hydrocephalus Association (for all the great work that Matt and Jennifer Pope do to support this organization in honor of their son Charlie).

    Sandy Cross: Brides Against Breast Cancer, PGA Reach, EWGA Foundation.

    Stephanie Druley: St. Jude, Texas Children’s Hospital.

    Donna Fiedorowicz: Humane Society, ASPCA.

    Kelly Flanagan: The Players Championship at Sawgrass; St. Joe’s and Columbia alumni associations; and the Jags Foundation.

    Karen Forgus: Reds Community Fund.

    Erleen Hatfield: Cancer research, University of Nebraska, Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation.

    Sue Hunt: USTA Foundation.

    Gail Hunter: Boys and Girls Clubs of San Francisco, First Tee of Oakland, YMCA.

    Beth Hutter: Breast cancer initiatives.

    Julie Kikla: High Fives Foundation, Women 2.0.

    Heidi Massey-Bong: CSTEM, United Way, Houston Food Bank.

    Bernadette McGlade: Earlier.org is a great organization committed to finding an early test to diagnose breast cancer. And, there is an annual Theresa McGlade memorial scholarship fund (named after my mom) awarded to a high school female basketball athlete through the Basketball Club of South Jersey.

    Michelle McKenna-Doyle: Mentoring high school girls to “lean in”; youth sports; Public Theater (New York).

    Kimberly Meesters: Conquer Paralysis Now.

    Marla Newman: Team Ethan, Robin Hood, City of Hope.

    Anne Occi: Habitat for Humanity.

    Jay Parry: I’m on the board of Arizona Women’s Education & Employment, which helps women prepare for the workforce, from coaching through to job placement. It’s all about restoring people’s dignity through work. I’ve been fortunate with various mentors helping me along the way, and this is one way I can tangibly make a difference.

    Kristen Rose: St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Make-A-Wish, various food banks, education-related charities.

    Jennifer Sabatelle: The Boomer Esiason Foundation and the Big Daddy Celebrity Golf Classic to benefit St. Jude.

    Heidi Sandreuter: Culture Relay, started by my amazing friend Tracey Abbott. CR’s mission is to empower high school girls with life skills by cultivating a cross-cultural virtual exchange and teaching the principles of running.

    Maribeth Towers: I am a big believer in the power of education. I serve on the board for Learning Rights Law Center in Los Angeles. They do terrific work advocating for low-income, special-needs children to ensure they receive appropriate access and/or assistance within the public school system. I am also a big supporter of the ASPCA. I got Alejandro, my best four-legged friend, from them.

    Ali Towle: Special Olympics.

    Ronnie Tucker: NYRR is a not-for-profit organization, and I work to support our youth and community initiatives including Team For Kids, Mighty Milers and Young Runners every day.

    Alyson Walker: Ride to Conquer Cancer, Ride for Heart, Right to Play, Rotman School of Management.

    Alison Weber: Second Harvest Food Bank — Kids Café. And, in 1996, it was an honor and privilege to launch Levy Cares, the organization’s charitable arm that guides our team member and locations’ community outreach across the country.

    Pamela Wheeler: Women’s Sports Foundation, Alpha Kappa Alpha scholarship funds, Greyston foundation, church.

    Andrea Williams: Anything supporting dogs. I hosted my first-ever dog rescue fundraiser this past June, and we raised more than $9,000 for the Soi Dog Foundation.

    Tags: On The Ground
  • New NBPA leader Michele Roberts on dealing with crisis, loving basketball and her new job

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    Roberts: "[The players] deserve my coming to them and earning their respect. They deserve an executive director that works for them.”

    Incoming NBPA Executive Director Michele Roberts said traveling to meet her players will be a key early priority as she officially begins her work on Monday.
    “Frequent flier miles,” she said Tuesday afternoon. “I will be going all over the place to meet my players. They deserve my coming to them and earning their respect. … They deserve an executive director that works for them.”

    Roberts made the comments during a one-on-one interview session that closed the 2014 Game Changers Conference at the New York Marriott Marquis at Times Square. It was one of her first public appearances since she was elected in July to succeed Billy Hunter, who was fired in February 2013.

    Among other subjects discussed during the interview:

    What drew her to the position: “I really do love basketball, but not so much the game as basketball players. … I loved the stories that the players had in their backgrounds. … The minute that I learned that there was a need for help because of the circumstances that led to my predecessor’s ouster, I could not stop thinking about how I wanted to be part of that rebuilding.”

    Addressing her gender during the election process: “I told [the players] at the outset, ‘We’re going to talk about this girl thing.’ One day, it should not be an issue, but today, it is an issue.”

    How she addressed it: “There was this sense that I had no prior experience dealing with men. The question I would get pretty often was, ‘Michele, you’re about to find yourself in a meeting, and you’ll be the only woman there. You might be the only black woman there. What are you going to do?’ And I said, “What do you think I’ve been doing for the last 25 years of my life?”

    Drawing from her youth, as one of five children with a single mom: “She was really a no-nonsense kind of girl. It was clear that our poverty, our race, and for me my sex was not going to be an excuse to fail. … She said, ‘I will feed you, I will cloth you, I will keep you safe. But if you come in my house with anything less than an A, you have to deal with me. And so, that seemed fair. I got all As.”

    Commenting on some of the current negative storylines in sports: “The first thing we should do … is to calm down and figure out what happened, and why it happened, and not have a knee-jerk reaction to what happened. ... What we need to do is figure out ways not only to react to it, but ways to proactively prevent it. I’d much rather get a phone call from someone who is telling me that ‘I want counseling’ as opposed to a phone call from a police officer saying that ‘One of your guys has been arrested.’”

    How to formulate responses: “You can’t immediately go for the torches. What we need to do is at least allow the public to know that ‘We’re having a conversation about this,’ and be completely transparent. As long as the public believes that we’re trying to address the problem, they’ll give us some time.”

    About NBA Commissioner Adam Silver: “Nice guy, very gracious, very smart. I have not had extensive conversations, but I’ve been very impressed with him.”

    Initial plans of action: “I’m putting together my senior management team, my ‘team of gladiators’ as I call them. … We are doing a lot of hiring. The work we do is important, and we need to have enough people to do it.”

    Tags: ING, bp, Ally, GE, Game Changers, Marriott, CES, Basketball
  • Game Changers panel: How properties, agencies and sponsors are engaging women

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    Tailoring marketing campaigns to women, brand misconceptions about female roles in the family and the early strategy of Under Armour’s “I Will What I Want Campaign” were hot topics during the “Reaching Women Through Sports” panel at the 2014 Game Changers conference in New York.

    Reaching women through sports

    Elizabeth Lindsey, Wasserman Media Group
    Tracie Rodburg, NFL
    Heidi Sandreuter, Under Armour

    “A lot of what we’re doing right now, we’re targeting both boys and girls from a participation point of view,” said USTA Chief Marketing Officer Sue Hunt. “We’re looking at women a lot differently. We’re trying to educate moms, and dads, of course, but mom, primarily, about how important activity is and participation is. Again, boxing them into the idea that they’re the person that only has a small role in activities, we think is really shortsighted. [Among] the things we’re doing right now for tennis is, we’ve changed the rules of the sport. For kids eight and under, we now use a red ball. Ten and under, we use an orange ball. For that yellow ball, we’re waiting until maybe you are as tall as Sloan Stevens or Roger Federer. What we’re encouraging moms and dads to with their kids is go out and play with them and be the example of activity.”

    Wasserman Media Group Co-Managing Director of the Consulting Division Elizabeth Lindsey said, “We did a campaign very recently for a brand that came to us and said, ‘Help me figure out how to target moms.’ It was all about working mothers — how to get to them, and how to get to their children though the working mothers. Looking across their competitors and brands in the marketplace, we were a little shocked at the very one-dimensional role that a lot of brands were putting women in when it came to sports. Big secret: Women are not one-dimensional animals. They were casting women in this role as team manager ... when in reality the three dimensionalized woman that you should be targeting is team manager, coach, captain, cheerleader, and, for the record, teammate, mentor and example.”

    Under Armour’s “I Will What I Want” creative was shown to the audience, with Under Armour VP of Women’s Marketing Heidi Sandreuter sharing the company’s early vision for the campaign. Sandreuter: “During my interview with my now boss, the Click Clack poster was behind him. That’s like 50 years old. Guys kind of think, ‘I can be that guy.’ They never graduate from the team. I admire what Alex Morgan does, but I don’t think that’s me. This is where I give Kevin Plank, our founder and CEO, so much credit. He built this brand. For 18 years it’s been so successful, but he realized, after making some mistakes -- ‘pinking it and shrinking it’ -- that he needed to pivot. He needed to think differently about this. … He needed a different point of view, because if he relied on himself and the internal creative agency that they had, we’d come out with the feminine version of Click and Clack, which we’d already done for years.” Sandreuter added that the brand strove to show the inner strength of women, a concept she believes resonates with women. 

    Tags: GE, Game Changers, ING, AIG, Under Armour, Target, USTA, Boxing, Ally, Media, Wasserman Media Group, SEC, MMA
  • Research shows opportunities for sponsors in the way female fans consume sports

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    Wardle: "The opportunities for fans to engage and feed their passion for sport is almost limitless."

    Octagon chief strategy officer Simon Wardle presented new research at the 2014 Game Changers conference that focused on fan interactivity and how female fans consume and interact with sport through digital, social and mobile platforms. We caught up with Wardle to discuss misconceptions about female fans and how “interactive” is the new “avid.” 

    SBJ/SBD: There’s long been an emphasis on the loyalty of avid fans, but your research shows that interactive fans are even more loyal than avids. What does that tell us about the way that sports and brands should be marketing?

    Wardle: The fact that the level of interactivity is more strongly correlated with predisposition to supporting sponsoring brands makes it very appealing to brands who are trying to change purchase behavior. Unlike self-reported ability, behavioral markers like level of interactivity means you can actually target those consumers who have a predisposition to supporting a brand and potentially feel more loyal than would trying or switching as a result of your brand’s investment in that sponsorship. From my perspective, a key takeaway is to make sure that brands are actually focusing on these digital and social platforms, not just as an add-on, but as a very important component of your communications plan, because it is a very target rich environment for consumers who are predisposed to supporting sponsors’ brands.

    SBJ/SBD: Where do female fans fit in? Are they as avid and as interactive as male fans?

    Wardle: Across the board they are surprisingly interactive, and I think part of that has to do with the fact that they’ve embraced the digital and social platforms in the all the facets of their life, and that carries over into their fandom. One of the key takeaways from my perspective is the high level of interactivity we see amongst those female fans. So, again, when you’re thinking about the importance of interactive fans for brands, female fans are no exception. There’s a lot of interactivity there -- a lot of potential.

    SBJ/SBD: What does your research show is the biggest misconception about female fans?

    Wardle: That’s a tough one. I think there is this perception that a second screen and these alternate channels are the male domain. The research finds that female fans are just as interactive as the male fans. So, a lot of opportunity for, not only the rights-holders, but also athletes and personalities who are trying to build their own brands through these social media channels. It’s a great way for them to engage with female fans for the vast majority of product categories as the household business decision-makers. There’s a lot of opportunity for rights holders, teams, players and brands to connect with those interactive female fans.

    SBJ/SBD: What has your research shown about the behavior of female fans, both at games and while watching at home?

    Wardle: It’s not a minority activity anymore. When you look at TV viewers, now the majority – over 50 percent – of female fans are engaging in second screen activity, be it their mobile device or laptop. Likewise with in-stadium behavior, about three-quarters of fans are using their mobile devices to help supplement the fan experience and share it with family and friends. I think the days of the coach potato are numbered. We’ve done this segmentation where we’re going from, basically, coach potato to super fan. Nowadays there are only about 30 percent of fans who are in that couch potato fan mode. Everyone has gradually migrated down that continuum as technology and these social, digital platforms have become even more integrated into the fan experience. It really is a great way for fans to supplement the exposure that sports are getting through mainstream media and tailoring it to our own personal needs and desires.

    SBJ/SBD: Your conclusion is that “interactive” is the new “avid.” What’s the most important thing to learn from that?

    Wardle: Knowing that level of interactivity is a predictor of consumers who are going to be predisposed to sports-sponsoring brands, these social and digital platforms are a target-rich environment for brands to engage and connect with fans who are willing and able to support those sponsor bands. Because it’s behavioral-based, it’s easy to target consumers rather than rely on self-reported ability.

    SBJ/SBD: Taking a broader look at all of your findings, what would you say is the biggest takeaway?

    Wardle: Life is complicated. Back in the day it was very easy to be a fan. You could watch, read about, attend [or] play [a sport]. Now the opportunities for fans to engage and feed their passion for sport is almost limitless. That’s part of the reason why we set out to do the research. It is so complicated, and you really do have to understand all the different dynamics to figure out, how are fans fans in the modern world? We set out to map out behavior and along the way we found out some interesting facts about these interactive fans that make them so appealing to brands based on that level of predisposition to support them.

    Tags: Octagon, GE, Game Changers, ING, Ally, Target
  • Faces in the Crowd at 2014 Game Changers

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    Here are photos of some of the 2014 Game Changers attendees during the afternoon networking breaks:

    Tags: GE, Game Changers, ATT, ING
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