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Volume 24 No. 115

Events and Attractions

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel opened the second day of the '13 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 Blackhawks' 2-1 OT win over the Red Wings in Game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinals and during the Crosstown Classic baseball series between the Cubs and 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 the Big Ten men's basketball tournament comes 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.”

RICKETTS TALKS RENOVATION: Cubs Chair Tom Ricketts yesterday sat for a one-on-one interview as part of the Intersport Activation Summit prior to yesterday’s White Sox-Cubs game. Ricketts addressed his controversial proposal for a $500M renovation of Wrigley Field and what he has learned since his family bought the team in ‘09. He said of 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 videoboard 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." Ricketts, when asked about the pace of the city’s approval process of the proposed renovation, said, "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." The Cubs put up box signs Tuesday at Wrigley Field to simulate the proposed new videoboard and signage, and Ricketts said, "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." He said of 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."

Experiential marketing is more sophisticated and complicated today than it was only a few years ago, said a group of panelists on Day 2 of the ‘13 Intersport Activation Summit. Facebook Client Partner Erik Bahr said, “You used to do a pop up and throw out some balls and allow consumers to interact with the brand and sample. 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.”

ENGAGING EFFORTS: USA Today Sports Media Group VP/Properties John von Stade discussed the changing nature of the relationship between brands and the agencies they hire to activate their digital platforms. He said, “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 Dir Greg Skasko stressed the need to have a plan in place far in advance, especially in the case of real-time activation. Skasko: “It’s best when you set up a task force, an onsite war room, to say we’re going to attack this thing together and have the conversation with each group internally.” Taco Bell Senior Manager of Brand Partnerships & Sponsorships Will Bortz 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 a 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.”

Marketers see the potential to grow their brands through targeting the Hispanic demographic, but stressed that the focus cannot be solely on soccer, but must include other sports, depending on the geographic region. During a discussion at the '13 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.

Execs discussed the importance of reaching out to multi-cultural consumers
MORE THAN SOCCER: 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. He said, “Some of that is asking, some of that is the type of content that you’re surrounding yourself with. 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.”

TARGETED MESSAGE: 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-language 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 Senior VP/Marketing & Event Booking Sean Flynn discussed his team catering its Hispanic marketing appeal to the South Florida region. He said, “Our message has to be very targeted. 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 Brazil: “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 the team being disconnected after former manager 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.”

ESPN Chair George Bodenheimer sat down with Intersport President & CEO Charlie Besser for a one-on-one interview yesterday morning at the '13 Intersport Activation Summit. The two discussed a range of topics, from the new competition that ESPN faces from upstarts like Fox Sports 1 to ESPN’s strategy for rights acquisition to leadership. 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 two to three 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, U.S. Open tennis, U.S. 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 fanbase. 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're 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: It always gets put to me, “You were in charge of the ESPN phone and it was a huge failure.” The first time I met (late Apple co-Founder) 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.

Taco Bell President Brian Niccol spoke yesterday at the '13 Intersport Activation Summit, giving attendees an insider’s view of the company’s efforts to create marketing that is exciting, innovative and culturally relevant. In his first public remarks since being named to the position, Niccol spoke about the importance of authenticity and being culturally relevant. See his full remarks below.