• Behind the scenes on the movie 'Draft Day'

    Inside 'Draft Day'

    Ali Bell, Producer
    Tracy Perlman, NFL
    Ivan Reitman, Director

    Movie director Ivan Reitman took the ‘13 Sports Marketing Symposium audience behind the scenes of his new film, “Draft Day,” as part of a Hollywood-focused panel on Day 2 of the conference. Reitman said the first step in making the movie was “to find out if the NFL was interested, because to really make it the way it had to be, we needed their cooperation.” He added, “We couldn’t make up team names the way certain films have and create our own league or our own draft, because then the film really wouldn’t have any power. It wouldn’t have the energy that the story had.” Convincing the NFL to be fully invested in the project was not an easy task. NFL VP/Entertainment Marketing & Promotions Tracy Perlman said, “When we got the script originally, there were some things in it that made me a little bit nervous and we weren’t sure where it was going.” But a meeting with Reitman allayed those concerns. Perlman: “I could see that he wanted to make an authentic film about the NFL and about what the Draft was truly about. After we spoke, I brought it around the building and said Ivan’s the right partner, he wants this to be exactly what it is. He wants to show the drama of being on the clock and the humanity of having to save your job on this day, the humanity of being a football player and trying to wait to see what’s going to happen to you.” She added, “I realized if we brought everyone together to make this film it would be about what the Draft, the league and life is really about.” The script had to go through a long list of NFL departments for approval, including legal, PR, marketing, events, football operations, NFL Films and the individual teams that would be involved. Reitman said, “It was a really difficult process finally to get all the pieces together – actors, money, distribution - in time to make the film. And we just made it by the skin of our teeth to be able to shoot with the Draft.”
    It was important to both Reitman and the NFL that the league and the Draft be portrayed in an authentic way. All of the NFL’s sponsors – include Gatorade, Pespi, Frito Lay and GMC – are represented in the film, without any kind of separate deal. Perlman said, “All of our partners are in the film because it’s authentic to who we are. It’s authentic to what happens at the Draft.” The NFL Network and ESPN also play large roles in the film. Reitman said, “They are the great commentators of sports events, particularly football. They are the Draft as it’s portrayed on television and so they had to be a very big part of this film.” Lionsgate next week will begin pre-screening “Draft Day,” and the hope is the film will come out sometime between Super Bowl XLVIII in February and the ’14 NFL Draft in April.


    *Producer Ali Bell on NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s role in the film: “There’s nothing more credible than having the actual commissioner show up.”

    *Reitman on Texans RB Arian Foster, who has a role in the film: “I think he’s got a future as an actor. He has this lovely quality. For a guy who pounds it up the field, he has extraordinary sensitivity in a close up. I actually moved him up to a larger part after I saw it.”

    *Bell on getting other teams to participate: “It was sort of hard to get the other teams involved because one of the key plot elements of our script is that there’s a quarterback in the draft that’s ‘the best since Andrew Luck.’ There were teams that really wanted to be in the movie but were like, ‘We have quarterback issues we can’t do it.’ It was funny because everywhere we went life sort of imitated the script.”

    *Reitman on Browns fans: “We filmed the opening day of the Cleveland Browns and … it was the first time I was ever on a professional football sideline. I got caught up in, and I could see, the emotionality of the Cleveland spectators who are well known as a remarkably rabid fan base that have been greatly disappointed over the last 20 years or so. You could see that there was a great hope this year, and they were in fact ahead at halftime and then they lost the game, and ... I suddenly felt that as if I was a Cleveland fan living in that city and what that really felt like.”

    Tags: NFL, Football
  • Morning networking at #sbjsms

    Lots of networking, both in the halls and in the speaker room. Click any photo to launch a slide show.

  • 'Embrace the winter': Super Bowl XLVIII Update

    Super Bowl XLVIII Update

    Adam Harter, Pepsi Beverages Co.
    Alfred Kelly, NY/NJ Super Bowl Host Committee
    Frank Supovitz, NFL

    Plans for activation and engagement around Super Bowl XLVII – the first cold weather Super Bowl – in New York/New Jersey on Feb. 2 was the focus of the opening panel of the second day of the ’13 Sports Marketing Symposium. While the weather could pose challenges, NFL Senior VP/Events Frank Supovtiz said the league “wanted to make sure we’re prepared for winter, but we also want to put our arms around it and really embrace the winter.” The most unique attraction of Super Bowl Boulevard, which will stretch down Broadway Ave., will be toboggan rides. Supovitz said it was important to find a way “to break through the clutter of this incredible marketplace.” It also was important to the NFL to involve the local business along Broadway. Supovitz said the league “made a decision very early on that we were not going to sell retail merchandise or sell food and beverage on the boulevard so the local business could do that.” In addition, the local Macy’s is going to have a full-scale Super Bowl retail store on its fourth floor. In terms of sponsorship, New York/New Jersey Super Bowl Host Committee President & CEO Alfred Kelly said the roster as of this morning boasts about 106 partners, and the committee has raised “in the neighborhood” of $60M for the event.
    Pepsi is sponsoring the Super Bowl halftime show again this year, and Pepsi Beverage Co. VP/Marketing & Consumer Engagement Adam Harter said, “We decided with the NFL – because it is such a huge investment for us – that we need to leverage that even more.” He added, “Part of our discussion around the NFL was how do we make sure halftime isn’t just 12 minutes that happen on the day of the game, but is an event that we can create anticipation and excitement for all the way from kickoff right through the game itself and hopefully create a conversation after the game that is a positive one.” The company this year was able to announce Bruno Mars as its halftime performer more than three months ahead of last year’s announcement, and that has allowed it to launch an “Are You Fan Enough” campaign as a leadup to the event. Harter added that the company is in the process of building a global brand identity, and one of the challenges for the Super Bowl will be involving the Frito Lay, Gatorade and Tropicana brands to “make sure this comes together as a true Pepsi Co. event.”


    *Harter, on the importance of the halftime show: “The Super Bowl is not just about having the largest sports event in the country, but this is also the single largest music event. So we use that as a great example of how we can bring those music and sports platforms together. ... The two things that help grow our brand equity is being part of the music culture and part of the sports culture. This is the one chance to bring them together. “

    *Kelly, on easing transportation concerns: “We are creating - the NFL and the host committee - bus programs for all of our big sponsors. That’s going to take care of 15,000 people that go there, and we’re creating something we’re going to call the Fan Express, which is going to be where we’re going to set up scheduled bus stops in Manhattan and different parts of New Jersey where people can pick up the bus.”

    *Supovitz, on what will make the Super Bowl successful: “Full stadium at the end of the game; great ratings; competitive game; a little light snow during the course of the game, falling and caught by the lights that have stayed on the whole time.

    Tags: Super Bowl, NFL, ATT
  • Day 1 ends with networking reception

    Day 1 of the 2013 Sports Marketing Symposium ended with a networking reception in the exhibit area outside the Crowne Plaza ballroom. Here are a few photos from the reception. Click any picture to launch the slideshow.

  • The social, cultural and media challenges facing sports marketers

    Social, Cultural and Media Trends Changing Sports Marketing

    Barry Blyn, ESPN
    Anthony DiCosmo, Nickelodeon Networks
    Heidi Sandreuter, Pepsi Beverages Co.
    Adrian Williams, CSE
    Mark Wright, AT&T

    Finding new ways to reach the youth, Hispanic and female demographics was a focus during a ’13 Sports Marketing Symposium panel that looked at the “Social, Cultural and Media Trends Changing Sports Marketing.” Pepsi Head of Sports Marketing Heidi Sandreuter said, “We’re talking about Hispanics and thinking, Do we have the right assets to connect in a more relevant way with Hispanics? How are we leveraging what we already have to speak to those Hispanic fans in a more relevant way? What can we do together to do something unique and really break through?” CSE VP/Multicultural Adrian Williams added, “We’re really starting to think about that multicultural teen and how they are evolving into the trendsetters, being early adopters, and how does that apply to the general market across the board.” In terms of reaching a youth market, Nickelodeon VP/Sports Marketing Anthony DiCosmo said leagues tend to come in on the perimeter and try to create positive experiences around sports. He said of the NFL Play60 initiative, “It’s not about playing football, it’s just about being active, and they use their athletes as a vehicle to promote this.” DiCosmo also cited a promotion Nickelodeon did with select MLB teams to reintroduce the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles brand at ballparks. He said, “You want to have an experience that transcends just being here and introducing your son to baseball. How can you entertain them in a way that keeps their attention in between innings? Having us there adds value to the experience. ... We give access to our brand in a way that’s meaningful and also touches on sports and allows us to be organic to who we are without losing who our brand is.” Finding a way to connect with a female audience was an issue that the panel admitted posed some challenges. ESPN VP/Consumer Insights Barry Blyn said the problem is, “To what degree do you want to shine a light on women’s sports and to what degree do you want to shine the light on female sports fans for the major sports? You have to manage it very closely to get the coverage to the right tone.”

    STAR POWER: When asked about athletes that are trending in sports, Heat F LeBron James was cited as someone who was able to evolve his image from a marketing standpoint. Williams said, “With LeBron, what we’re seeing with Sprite is he’s not only remade his image, but he’s also expanded it into lifestyle. Now you’re able to see what his self-expression is really about. Whether it’s the clothes he’s wearing, his style, to the way that he’s interacting with his kids, to getting married. You’re seeing that evolution of a star athlete, and that’s really appealing to the young audience.” DiCosmo added, “You connect with him beyond being an athlete. You connect to that other side, and that’s what makes him interesting.”


    *Blyn on sports that are trending up: “We’re trying to serve a lot of niches and grow sports like cricket and soccer, but at the same time the core sports are the core stars of sports. An interesting and dynamic challenge for marketers is, Do I want to be on every platform but possibly not have an impact, or do you want to focus on the big sports for the big bang?”

    *AT&T VP/Media Services & Sponsorship Mark Wright on a change in sports that would alter marketing strategy in a disruptive fashion: “The international competition of what we call mainstream sport in America. If that were to take place – if the NFL, for example, were to have three teams playing in Europe – then you would have to be cognizant of that and market to it. It’s not out of the question.”

    *DiCosmo on an untapped market: “Teen and tween girls are let down in that there really isn’t a destination for them to see sports that they’re interested in or participate in. … So what we’ve seen as a tremendous opportunity with a number of our partners is how can you fill some of that void? How do you enhance these experiences for a teen girl?”

    Tags: Media, Nickelodeon, NFL, Football, MLB, Baseball, ATT, ESPN
  • Afternoon networking at the 2013 Sports Marketing Symposium

    Here are some of the people we caught on camera during the afternoon of Day 1 of the 2013 Sports Marketing Symposium. Click any image to launch the slideshow:

  • 20 Minutes with Nets and Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark

    Yormark: "When we think about programming, we think about what makes sense for Brooklyn. We don’t really think about the other guys in town. This market is big enough for us all to be successful.”
    Photo by Marc Bryan-Brown

    Nets and Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark sat for a quick-hitting, one-on-one interview at the ’13 Sports Marketing Symposium, where he touched on a range of topics including the impact of the Nets’ move to Brooklyn, what he has learned from Twitter, and whether advertising belongs on NBA jerseys.

    When did you know the Brooklyn rebrand was going to be a success? “Our merchandise during the first three days of our launch was over $5M gross. That compares to what we did our last year in New Jersey, which was practically nothing.”

    On the thought process behind the team’s black-and-white theme: “It was an evolution. Obviously we worked with Jay-Z on it and he was pretty much the author of the black and white. We work very closely with Adidas. We wanted a color palate that was global and something that would resonate with our borough. One of the things we did in our launch period was we didn’t really launch as a performance brand, we launched as a lifestyle brand. Not knowing what kind of team we were going to have in Brooklyn, it was important we gave people many reasons to like us.”

    What’s changing at the Barclays Center in Year 2? “From a building perspective I think it’s a period of refinement versus change. We want to build on some of the things that truly defined us – our programming mix … our local taste platform, which is our food and beverage …. Lastly, we want to continue to differentiate customer service.”

    On whether there’s more pressure to win this year: “Last year at this time they were asking, ‘Will we make the playoffs?’ and now they’re asking, ‘Can we win a championship?’ I like that kind of pressure. It raises the bar for our fans. We’re part of the conversation, which is truly an indicator that we’re relevant, and we weren’t relevant a couple years ago.”

    On season-ticket sales: “This year we’re at about 13,000 right now. I’m not sure how much more we’re going to go. We’ve got to have product for the borough, for that individual buyer, for that group buyer. Our building capacity is 17,700, and rolling up to that number with a base of 13,000 is pretty easy at this point in time.”

    What are your new corporate deals? “We’re going to announce shortly an expansion deal in the financial services category that we’ve been working on for a couple years, and we’ll also announce a great airline deal. But what we’re very proud of is really breaking into new fields. So last week we announced a CBS radio deal. As I’ve often told people, we’re in a content business now. How can we modify that and truly take it national? [With] our Brooklyn Hoops franchise, which is our college basketball platform, we had 34 games last year, many of which we controlled. We’re going to partner with FS1. We will be the first arena to truly launch a national college basketball platform that originates in-arena, and they will promote our brand no different than any other major brand that they work with, or major property.”

    On whether he pays attention to competition within the market: “I don’t. We compete against ourselves. We think Brooklyn is a uniquely positioned market. We think of our program as an example. College basketball has an incredible history in Brooklyn … Boxing is another example to be a programming mix for us. We’re doing some special things there, too. When we think about programming, we think about what makes sense for Brooklyn. We don’t really think about the other guys in town. This market is big enough for us all to be successful.”

    What Twitter has taught him: “For me, it’s a lot about fact finding. For example, there was a big debate: Should we change the Islanders when we move to Brooklyn? And I went to Twitter and fans responded. And I became a little sensitized to their position. Initially, it was all about, let’s turn them black and white and truly embrace the borough. Because the main thing about Brooklyn is, if you’re all in, so are they. And I thought that would be the case with the Islanders, but I’ve changed my position a little based on the feedback we received on Twitter.”

    What was your best deal? “I think by far it was the Barclays Center. It truly enabled us to move to Brooklyn and in many respects it’s defined me and our organization.”

    On marketing to the hockey fan: “I think the Islanders present a challenge in that we need to appeal to the hardcore fan, which is obviously coming from the suburban areas of Long Island, and that needs to sync up to that new fan in Brooklyn. And it presents some marketing challenges, but I think in the end we’ll be able to track both demographics and consume both segments. But it’s a little different, that’s for sure.

    Will fans follow the Islanders to Brooklyn? “We’re tracking that right now. Every new season ticket holder has to check the box, ‘Do you intend to go to Brooklyn?’ and right now 70% of the new buyers say they want to go and this isn’t just a two-year buy. Our goal is to maintain 50% of that base and bring it to Brooklyn and then grow what we have in Brooklyn.”

    On putting nicknames on NBA player jerseys: “I think it’s terrific. I’m a big a supporter of it. I think it’s a new way to connect with fans. Nicknames today are really how we reference many of the players, so seeing that come to life on the court and then leveraging it at retail I think is just another opportunity to get people to engaged with the brand.”

    What about ads on NBA jerseys? “I’m for it. I think it’s an incredible opportunity to truly align a team with a brand.”

    Can you sell on-court, apron advertising? “We’d like to. But we have rate card integrity and we’re looking for a big number, north of seven figures. Our goal is to sell it to an international or global brand.”

    What did you learn working for the France family? “How to manage up and how to conduct yourself in a family run business. As big as NASCAR is … it’s still a family owned and run business. They expect you to understand that balance and I think it taught me a lot.”

    How do you manage up better? “What my guys want me to do is keep them informed, and to some degree maybe I over-communicate, but it’s really selectively using it and tapping in to what matters most.”

    What can you do better as a CEO? “Probably not micromanage so much. Let people fail and learn and the next time they’ll do it better.”

    What will be the biggest difference when Adam Silver takes over for David Stern? “Adam is a little bit more warm and fuzzy than David is, and he returns my calls a little quicker. That being said, both of them are visionary, both of them have done a terrific job and I think each have their own unique management style.e

    Will there be any tangible differences in the NBA when Silver steps in? “I don’t think so. The foundation for the league has been set. We know where we want to go from a global perspective to a domestic perspective, and I think Adam builds on all those platforms and reaches new heights. And there might be different approaches that he takes to get there than David, but I think we’re on a great path right now for growth and success in the long term. I’m not sure that anything needs to be reinvented. Maybe it needs to be redefined, and I think under his leadership we’ll see that.”

    On the next big event: “We’re going for the next Mayweather fight. We want the Super Bowl of boxing to be brought to Brooklyn, so that’s what we’re working on right now.”

    How will you activate around Super Bowl XLVIII? “We are going to kick off a campaign in the next couple of months, ‘Kickoff In Brooklyn,’ that we’ll draft behind the Super Bowl here in the marketplace. Thursday night we’ll do a huge boxing event, Friday night we’ve got the Nets and Oklahoma City, and on Saturday night we have a big concert.”

    What sports business stories are you watching? “I’m interested to see what [Tim] Leiweke does up in Toronto. I’m interested to see if football ever gets to L.A., and I’m also interested to see about new venues in Golden State and Sacramento.”

    Tags: One-on-One, Twitter, NBA, Adidas
  • How baseball helped T-Mobile bounce back

    Belcher: "This has been a complete turnaround. Baseball gave us that high profile to shout from the rooftops."
    Photo by Marc Bryan-Brown

    T-Mobile's large-scale sponsorship of MLB and MLB Advanced Media has played an instrumental role in the company's improved earnings, subscribership and brand recognition this year, said Mike Belcher, company vice president of media and sponsorships.

    Making a featured presentation at the CSE Sports Marketing Symposium, Belcher said T-Mobile's brand was badly battered at the end of last year, following a failed merger with AT&T and stiff competition in the wireless market. But beginning with a high-profile presentation in early January at the International Consumer Electronics Show, one that included the announcement of the baseball partnership, T-Mobile has found new energy around its brand strategy to be the "Uncarrier."

    "This has been a complete turnaround," Belcher said. "We gained over a million customers in [our fiscal second quarter, ended June 30]. Baseball gave us that high profile to shout from the rooftops."

    In addition to the top-level subscriber gains, T-Mobile used its sponsorship of the MLB All-Star FanFest to tout its Jump program, which allows consumers to upgrade mobile devices without a contract. Within days, Verizon and AT&T rolled out similar programs. T-Mobile is now planning to make another major announcement during the MLB League Division Series, for which T-Mobile has a presenting sponsorship.

    T-Mobile has also supplemented its league-level partnership of baseball with team-level deals with the Rays, Twins, Nationals, Pirates, Dodgers and Mariners, and player deals with Dodgers 1B Adrian Gonzalez, Dodgers OF Matt Kemp, Nationals OF Bryce Harper and Pirates OF Andrew McCutchen.

    "We needed to drive a radical reappraisal of the brand, and baseball has helped us do that," Belcher said.

    The complex deal, estimated to be worth about $125 million over three years, gave baseball its first league-level telecommunications deal in 15 years.

    Among other quick hits:

    * Efforts to use T-Mobile technology to improve wireless connectivity for fans remain a work in progress. "We're still testing,” he said, “but it's something we want to get right. We hope to be more out of the gate next year."

    * T-Mobile measured more than 58 million brand impressions on social-media during the All-Star break. Seventy-four percent of FanFest attendees could recall the brand.

    * "We don't have a lot of sponsorships, but we go deep on the ones that we have."

    Tags: Baseball, MLB, Media, ATT, International
  • NBC's Mark Lazarus on Sochi Games issues, EPL ratings and what rights deal he's watching

    Lazarus: "What we did in London made advertisers comfortable that an alternate time zone Olympics still works in the United States."
    Photo by Marc Bryan-Brown

    In a rapid-fire, one-on-one discussion on Wednesday at the 2013 CSE Sports Marketing Symposium, NBC Sports Group Chairman Mark Lazarus did not shy away from any topic. Among on the highlights:

    The Sochi Olympics, in a far-away time zone: "What we did in London made advertisers comfortable that an alternate time zone Olympics still works in the United States." Lazarus added that the programming from Sochi will be live whenever appropriate and on tape when it best serves the needs of the viewer.

    Is Sochi ready for the Olympics? "It's going to be a race against the clock, but they will get done. There is some pretty important infrastructure to be done."

    Will legendary NBC executive Dick Ebersol be at the Olympics? "Dick Ebersol will not be in Sochi. We talk on the phone a lot. He is still a friend to the network and the Olympics games. I will be in the (International Broadcast Center) and in our control room throughout."

    Will NBC Sports report on events surrounding Russia's anti-gay laws during the Olympics? "If there is a demonstration, if an athlete speaks out, we will cover it from a sports perspective. NBC News will also be there to cover it."

    On the ratings success of the English Premier League: "We're pleasantly surprised. It has out-delivered our expectations. "

    On Michelle Beadle 's public, negative reaction to the cancellation of "The Crossover": "She's an important part of what we do. That show wasn't, for us, what we wanted it to be. (The decision to cancel) was simply about the show and not about Michelle."

    On not being able to renew a rights deal with the USGA: "We were disappointed. We were very forward and aggressive in our approach. We would rather have it than not have it. But like everything, life goes on. We believe that we are still an important voice in golf."

    His reaction to the USGA saying it partnered with Fox because Fox was innovative: "For the USGA to disparage us for the sake of a press release, I was offended by it."

    On the sports business rights story that he's watching closely: "What's going to happen with the NBA."

    Tags: NBC, One-on-One, Sports Group, Olympics, International, Russia
  • Morning Networking at the 2013 Sports Marketing Symposium

    Here are some attendees we spotted during the first networking break of the day:

    Tags: ATT
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