• Kentucky Derby Case Study: Ram trucks and Stella

    Kentucky Derby Sponsor Activation

    Corey Christanell, Anheuser-Busch
    Marissa Hunter, Chrysler Group
    Kristin Warfield, Churchill Downs

    Four years ago, Chrysler had a problem with its Ram truck brand in the Kentucky market. It’s market share lagged far behind Ford, and its trucks struggled to get consideration from horse trainers, jockeys and others who use trucks every day.

    Chrysler took a big step to correct that problem in 2010 by signing a deal with Churchill Downs and activating against the Kentucky Derby. In the negotiation, Chrysler secured space for its brand on jockey pants and branding in the winner’s circle at the Derby and stables at Churchill Downs.

    The brand launched a new campaign around the 2010 Derby using the tagline, “Guts. Glory. Ram.” In subsequent years, it added a “Horsemen’s Lounge” staffed by Ram Truck ambassadors who served owners, trainers and jockeys. This year, it added a Ram Longhorn truck on the red carpet and loaded it with red roses, which made it a popular photo opportunity for spectators.

    Marissa Hunter, head of Chrysler Group’s Ram Truck brand communications and advertising, said local dealer leads grew more than 350 percent as a result of the Churchill Downs sponsorship.

    “This for us is a huge win,” Hunter said. “Louisville has long been Ford country. We basically had no presence there. From a marketshare standpoint… that place has been owned by Ford for years and years and years. So we’re very excited that what we’re doing there at Churchill Downs seems to be paying off.”


    When Anheuser-Busch’s sponsorship of the Kentucky Derby and Churchill Downs came up for renewal in 2011, the company decided to shift its brand from Budweiser Select to Stella Artois.
    It was a leap for the brand, which historically sponsored film festivals and food festivals and avoided sports. But Anheuser-Busch marketers saw a fit for the brand with the Derby that they believed could boost sales and brand affinity.

    “The beautiful people, the beautiful horse, the beautiful facility – all of that lends favorably to the brand image of Stella Artois,” said Corey Christanell, director of sports and entertainment marketing for Anheuser-Busch.

    The fit was so right, Christanell added, that Stella, which uses the tagline “She’s a thing of beauty” in advertising, was able to sub out the image of a woman serving one of its beers in print ads with the image of a thoroughbred coming down the front stretch.

    But it took more than a print campaign to boost Stella sales and make the sponsorship pay off in 2012 and 2013. Anheuser-Busch marketers added a series of events in 2013 to boost Stella’s visibility and sales at the event. It partnered with GQ to host a Derby Style party on Friday night with model Chrissy Teigen. It signed on as the presenting sponsor of a Taste of the Derby event in which 18 high-end chefs served some of their best dishes to 1,500 guests. And it partnered with NBC to create a sweepstakes on NBCSports.com that awarded winners a Derby party at their home catered by Stella-endorsed Chef Daniel Joly. The party was featured during NBC’s Derby broadcast.

    Collectively, the efforts helped boost share during the week of the Derby by 1.8 percent, Christanell said. It also helped the brand go from serving 42,000 chalices at track and in market in 2012 to 65,000 chalices this year.

  • Experiential Marketing panel: Plan well, stay true to your goals

    The Future of Experiential Marketing

    Erik Bahr, Facebook
    Will Bortz, Taco Bell
    Shannon Dan, Intersport
    Greg Skasko, AT&T
    John von Stade, USA Today Sports Media Group
    Eric Winter, Yahoo! Sports and Entertainment

    Experiential marketing is more sophisticated and complicated today than it was only a few years ago, and it’s important not only to have a solid plan, but to be true to your goals, said a group of panelists on Day 2 of the 2013 Intersport Activation Summit.

    “You used to do a pop up and throw out some balls and allow consumers to interact with the brand and sample,” said Facebook Client Partner Erik Bahr. “Experiential in the digital age is everywhere. It’s caused us to be more creative and be more intuitive with how we drive back to this experience.”

    USA Today Sports Media Group VP/Properties John von Stade talked about the changing nature of the relationship between brands and the agencies they hire to activate their digital platforms. “In today’s experiential, you’ve really got to make sure that both the client and the multiple agencies that are working on these brands have some understanding.” AT&T Sponsorships Director Greg Skasko took that a step further to stress the need to have a plan in place far in advance, especially in the case of real-time activation. “It’s best when you set up a task force,” he said, “an onsite war room, to say we’re going to attack this thing together and have the conversation with each group internally.”

    Will Bortz, Taco Bell senior manager of brand partnerships and sponsorships, added, “Whether you’re a brand or an agency or a league or another entity, stay true to what you want to do and follow that principle in how you engage that audience. If you’re trying to force fit it, you might not get the return or you may get some backlash.”
    Bortz, on responding to mobile callouts: “It’s a simple gesture back, personifying the brand and making it more of a one-on-one discussion and that you’re an actual person on the end of the other line is a powerful connector for anybody’s brand to be able to engage. Something very small can become something big.”

    Skasko, on having a plan and taking a risk: “A lot of times if you’re too contrived, then you’re missing out on these intimate relationships, these intimate moments that can be important.”

    Bortz, on interacting socially with consumers: “Be witty. Be fun. Ask questions back to them. Make it open ended. Don’t close down the conversation. Choose to respond to some stuff – some negative stuff, some positive stuff – and then leave some positive and negative stuff open. Let the community organically facilitate itself.”

    Intersport VP/Digital Shannon Dan, on getting the message out: “Distribution and making sure that that content you’re spending so much money on and time on, making sure that the distribution is right and getting to the right audience on the right platform, is often overlooked. We need to make sure that that’s at the forefront of our strategy.”

    Tags: Facebook, Media
  • Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel on sports as economic driver

    Emanuel: “This is a great sports town. It promotes, supports and embraces its teams."

    Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel opened Day 2 of the 2013 Intersport Activation Summit by talking about the city’s sports facilities and emphasizing the importance of sports to Chicago’s economic development.  Emanuel’s comments came a day after the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Detroit Red Wings in overtime in Game 7 of the NHL’s Western Conference semifinals and during the Crosstown Classic baseball series between the Cubs and the White Sox.  

    “It is a great time to be here in Chicago," Emanuel said. "I see what you all do as essential to the city’s economic development, whether it is at Wrigley [Field] or whether at the United Center, where the [Bulls] ownership is bringing their practice facility down to the city. And we are also going to make sure that DePaul has a facility in the city.”

    Emanuel said that both events and facilities are “essential to the city’s quality of life and economic development,” noting that that Big Ten basketball tournament will come to Chicago every other year. He said the city is making a big effort to land “those types of events.”

    “This is a great sports town,” Emanuel said. “It promotes, supports and embraces its teams, but it doesn’t just stay at the professional level, it goes from college down to high school.”

    Tags: Facilities, Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, NHL, Baseball, Basketball
  • Cubs' Ricketts talks Wrigley renovations, life as an owner

    Ricketts: "I like to say that even the problems are fun, and until recently I really believed that."
    Photo by David Durochik

    Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts sat down with SportsBusiness Journal Executive Editor Abe Madkour for a one-on-one interview prior to yesterday’s Cubs game against the Chicago White Sox as part of the 2013 Intersport Activation Summit. Ricketts addressed his controversial proposal for a $500 million renovation of Wrigley Field and what he has learned since his family bought the team in 2009. The interview took place during a luncheon at John Barleycorn near Wrigley Field.

    On the renovation:
    “When people get to their seats, it is where they want to be, so we are not going to fix what isn’t broken. A lot of the charm, the intimacy, the vibe is all going to be there. We are going to build a video board in left field. We are going to expand the concourse and dramatically increase the food options, the restroom facilities, and make the whole game day experience be better in the park.”

    On the pace of the city’s approval process of the proposed renovation:
    “Anytime you see something, you want to get it done yesterday. We understand there is a process and we keep our eyes on the horizon. We are making a lot of progress and are anxious to keep it rolling.”

    On the team putting up box signs yesterday at Wrigley Field to simulate the proposed new video board and signage: “We had a couple of cranes come out and put up box signs just to make sure we really understood what the impact would be. It gave us a lot of information.”

    On what he has learned since owning the team: “There have been a lot of learning curves at a lot of different levels. The steepest curve is on the political side of things. It wasn’t a focus of any part of my life. I like to say that even the problems are fun, and until recently I really believed that.”

    Tags: Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Facilities
  • Targeting the Hispanic sports market

    Marketers see the potential to grow their brands through targeting the Hispanic demographic, but stressed that the focus can’t be solely on soccer, but must include other sports, depending on the geographic region. During a discussion at the 2013 Intersport Activation Summit entitled, “The Shifting Paradigm of Hispanic Sports Marketing and Sponsorship Activation,” panelists talked about not only appealing to the Hispanic market, but also knowing the market. The panel was moderated by Michael Rodriguez, senior vice president of incito!, a division of Intersport.

    ESPN Deportes GM Lino Garcia said, “Soccer is a big big driver in sports for Hispanics. Two-thirds of the U.S. Hispanic population is Mexican; their number one sport is soccer. South Americans, their number one sport is soccer. However, when you look at the Caribbean and their top sports, soccer is not even one of them. It’s baseball, basketball, NFL. You can’t get the whole marketplace if you’re only focusing on soccer. There is a lot of diversity within the Hispanic market. There’s diversity in terms of geography. While soccer is a big driver, it’s not the only way.”

    Allstate Insurance Integrated Marketing Manager Kenneth Harley said that multicultural consumers want an invitation to participate. “Some of that is asking, some of that is the type of content that you’re surrounding yourself with,” Harley said. “But a lot of it is sort of cultural nuance. At Allstate, for example, that means people know that we speak Spanish and you can get a quote in Spanish. We have other resources available, too. But that signal of letting multicultural consumers know that we’re open for more business... At times, it’s a little bit obvious, but it needs to be there.”

    The panel discussed U.S. sports leagues focusing on the Hispanic marketplace, including the NFL with its Hispanic heritage month celebration, the NBA with its Spanish website, and NASCAR targeting markets that have a heavy Hispanic population. Garcia said, “We see that leagues and teams are realizing that their growth is going to come from the Hispanic market. Fifty percent of the growth in the U.S. in the last 10 years has come from the Hispanic market. Same thing applies to businesses and, obviously, leagues and sports teams.”

    Marlins Marketing & Event Booking Senior VP Sean Flynn talked about his team catering its Hispanic marketing appeal to the South Florida region. “Our message has to be very targeted,” he said. “There’s not a one message fits all. Talking about the development of our creative, 50% of our budget is spent on Hispanic marketing as opposed to general marketing. It’s very distinctive. Miami is much different from the rest of the markets. Every day is Hispanic Heritage Day.”


    Harley, on companies activating around the ’14 World Cup in Rio De Janeiro: “The fact that it’s in Brazil means that there’s going to be a lot more coverage at times when people can actually watch it.”

    Garcia, on advertisers being proactive in creating Hispanic marketing: “The folks that get it right really understand that it’s about the whole market. Also, on the marketing side, they’re putting together plans and strategies where the Hispanic (strategy) is up front, it’s not on the back end. It’s not like retrofitting, where all of a sudden you translate the spot for a creative or you’re going to stick in an Hispanic face for a commercial.”

    Flynn, on being disconnected after former GM Ozzie Guillen’s comments last season about Fidel Castro: “The biggest thing was to get out in front of it, show some transparency, and show whatever the apologies are.”

    Garcia, on what not to do to market to Hispanics: “Sometimes you have to do something that is tailored. It’s the same general campaign. What not to do is to kind of force something that has been created for the general market and force it into the Hispanic market. It might work sometimes, but you have to watch that you don’t do that and lose the effectiveness of the campaign, and maybe, even worse, it could be offensive.”

    Tags: Soccer, Marketing and Sponsorship, ESPN, South America, Baseball, Basketball, NFL, NBA, NASCAR
  • Two-Minutes With ESPN's George Bodenheimer

    ESPN Executive Chairman George Bodenheimer was interviewed by Intersport founder and CEO Charlie Besser as part of a featured one-on-one at the 2013 Intersport Activation Summit. Click on the video for highlights from the interview, and read a summary of Bodenheimer's remarks.

    Tags: One-on-One, ESPN, OTG Video
  • ESPN's Bodenheimer on leadership, sports rights and new competition

    Bodenheimer: Competition is "not only good for our company, it’s good for all sports fans.”

    ESPN Chairman George Bodenheimer sat down with Intersport CEO Charlie Besser for a one-on-one interview this morning at the 2013 Intersport Activation Summit. The two discussed a range of topics, from leadership to ESPN’s rights strategy to the new competition that the company faces from upstarts like Fox Sports 1. Here are some of the highlights:

    On SportsCenter: “I consider SportsCenter the flagship, the backbone of ESPN. It’s been on the air literally from the first five minutes of our existence. SportsCenter itself is our biggest sub fan under the ESPN brand. We produce 18 to 20 live hours of SportsCenter a day, up from 2 to 3 when we first kicked off. It’s a lot harder to do that … than put out a press release saying you’re going to do that.”

    On competition: “People all the time say, ‘You don’t have any competition.’ It took a long time for us to figure out why they felt that way. We had plenty of competition in television, radio, online and mobile, but none of the competitors had the breadth we had. But each one of those segments were terribly competitive. It will be more competitive now, and it’s not only good for our company, it’s good for all sports fans.”

    On rights acquisitions: “We always say to ourselves, you’re never going to go wrong with world class programming. It’s expensive, but whether you’re talking Wimbledon, the Masters, the BCS, Monday Night Football, US Open tennis, US Open golf… that’s world-class products. We’re only as good as our event product and … these acquisitions set the foundation for the company for the next eight to 10 to 15 years. We feel we’re on very firm ground by virtue of the acquisition strategy we’ve employed. Fortunately, we have a business model where, knock on wood, we’ll be able to finance that.”

    On the SEC Network: “It’s about as passionate as anything you can get in the world in terms of fan base. We obviously think there’s an opportunity to expand our relationship with the SEC. We’re bullish on it. We think the fans are going to want the product and enjoy the product.”

    On leadership: “Passion is probably at the top of the list (of traits for good leaders). All of the great leaders, whether you’re running Intersport, the SEC Conference, the Big 10 or the NFL, are passionate about their company and their product. People with passion over-deliver. There are so many examples of that throughout business and life. Beyond that, those folks are always curious, good listeners ... I like to use the term student-of-the-business. You’re always learning something new every day. I find them all to be curious about their business. There are various expertise people have in the various jobs they are in, but I really respect the people who want to learn about the areas they’re not expert in.”

    On making mistakes: “It is okay to make a mistake, because if you don’t make a mistake you’re not out there trying hard enough. But it better be an honest mistake … and you better not make the same mistake over and over again.”

    On the ESPN phone’s failure: “I always get put to me, ‘You were in charge of the ESPN phone and it was a huge failure.’ The first time I met Steve Jobs was a month after we launched the new phone. I was at a breakfast meeting. I’d never met him before. I went over and said, ‘Steve, I’m George Bodenheimer with ESPN.’ He said, ‘I hate your phone.’ …You know what? He was right. We really were on the wrong model, but what I credit ourselves with is that we got out of that model four months in. We got a lot of credit from Wall Street, a lot of credit from our employees. The point of the story is that we hired all these fantastic people (to make the phone product and) all we did was switch the model. We decided we’re not going to own the inventory, but we went full bore and now we have (the best phone content product in the business). It was a great lesson for all of us not to get too wedded to what we’re doing. It’s business. Get on the right model and move.”

    On hiring great employees: “It’s really hard. If it was a science, I suppose it would be easier, but it’s an art. There’s no easy answer. At the risk of coming across with passion as the answer to every question, I do look for that. We have so many people who look to work for us. By the time they get to the couch, I’m looking for something. I’m looking for passion. I’m looking to see that you’ve done your homework and see what you’re going to bring to ESPN.”

    Tags: ESPN, Fox
  • Two-Minutes With Taco Bell President Brian Niccol

    Taco Bell president Brian Niccol gave attendees at the 2013 Intersport Activation Summit an insider’s view of the company’s efforts to create marketing that is exciting, innovative and culturally relevant. Click on the video for highlights from his presentation, and read a summary of Niccol’s remarks.

    Tags: OTG Video
  • Taco Bell's Brian Niccol on creativity, cultural relevance

    Taco Bell president Brian Niccol talked about the importance of being part of the cultural dialogue.
    David Durochik

    In his first public remarks since being named president of Taco Bell, Brian Niccol talked to the crowd at the 2013 Intersport Activation Summit about the importance of authenticity and being culturally relevant.

    “If you go back a while ago, we were trying to figure out how we activate the mark,” said Niccol, who was recently promoted from his job as the company’s chief marketing officer. “Now I think we’re trying to figure how we activate the experience.”

    As an example, he pointed to the “Steal A Base, Steal A Taco” campaign during the MLB postseason, which was a taco giveaway keyed to a base being stolen during a game. Niccol said it was crucial that the campaign be timely, and that when the Giants’ Angel Pagan stole a base to activate the promotion, Taco Bell used immediate advertising and social media to take advantage of something that was already being talked about. “We literally had the ad on the air the next morning,” he said. “It has to be topical. At the same time we’re trying to activate this on television, we’re activating it on digital, social, mobile, radio. We literally tried to activate everything simultaneous to when the event actually occurred. It was powerful because instantly we amplified the idea.”

    Niccol talked about how a lot of marketing is not on point. “I actually think that a lot of the marketing that is going on right now is just flat-out bad,” he said. “Bad and antiquated. We have a real tendency to take a pendulum and swing it one way or the other. Very rarely do we operate in the space where we say, ‘You know what, I’m going to treat this like a fan member. I’m going to treat this in such a way that people want to talk about it again and again and again.’ As opposed to just logo slapping or making a bad ad and bad marketing that people will not want to see again.”

    On brands remaining true to their consumers: “Authenticity is now the absolute minimum cost of entry. If you’re not authentic, you’re going to hear about it on Twitter, Facebook. You’re going to hear about it because consumers are tired of the shill. If you keep the authenticity, people will engage with your brand in a very big way.”

    On an ideal partnership with teams and leagues: “Sometimes you like to get into the nitty gritty of the pennies and dollars of what it’s going to cost. But I think if you can start the conversation around how am I going to build sales and how are we going to build the brand over time, you’ll find that usually you can come up with much more powerful ideas than working through the Excel spreadsheet.”

    On activating through sports: “We uniquely have the power of sports or these platforms or brands to truly influence the way people talk and connect.”

    Tags: MLB, Media, Advantage, Ping
  • NFLPA looking at CAA Sports/Roc Nation relationship

    Photo by: NBAE / GETTY IMAGES
    The NFLPA has asked CAA Sports about its relationship with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation Sports and how it relates to the representation of NFL players, said George Atallah, NFLPA assistant executive director for external affairs.

    The NFLPA has already completed an inquiry into what role, if any, Jay-Z played in restricted free agent wide receiver Victor Cruz firing his previous agent and hiring CAA Sports. “Our investigation into CAA Sports’ representation of Victor Cruz concluded that Jay-Z had no role in the selection of a CAA Sports agent to be his contract adviser,” Atallah said. Cruz is represented by CAA Sports NFL player agent Tom Condon for playing contract work.

    Atallah, in a telephone interview today, addressed recent speculation surrounding Roc Nation Sports, including its hiring of an NFLPA-certified agent and its signing of New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith, as well as other issues that have been raised in the media.
    “Of course we are aware of the new relationship between Roc Nation and CAA,” Atallah said. The NFLPA is also aware, he said, of Roc Nation Sports hiring Kim Miale, an NFLPA-certified agent who will be representing Smith in contract talks.

    “We will be reaching out to all of the parties involved to get a better understanding of the nature of those relationships,” Atallah said.

    Atallah also disclosed today that CAA Sports informed the NFLPA that it was forming a relationship with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation Sports prior to the public announcement of that relationship in April.

    The NFLPA recently informed agents that it had passed new regulations, including one that requires player agents to have degrees from accredited universities. There has been speculation and reports that this regulation was passed to prevent Jay-Z from becoming an NFLPA-certified agent. However, NFLPA player reps passed those regulations before it was known that Jay-Z was entering the business of representing NFL players.

    Asked about the regulations, Atallah said, “The board of player reps passed a new set of agent regulations and there are no exceptions for individuals or entities following those regulations.”

    Tags: NBA, NFL, TES, NTRA, TRAC, New York Jets, Media
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