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Volume 20 No. 42
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Forty Under 40

Dan Keats didn’t have to look far to find a role model for hard work and perseverance. He grew up in Morristown, N.J., across the street from Brett and Michael Yormark.

As a young boy, Keats remembers Michael Yormark getting hit by a car while delivering newspapers and breaking his leg.

“The next morning, he was back on the paper route,” Keats said. “I’ll never forget that. Those guys are so driven.”

(Both of the Yormark brothers are past Forty Under 40 winners. Michael is now in South Florida, with Sunrise Sports & Entertainment; Brett is in Brooklyn, with the Nets and Barclays Center.)

Much of that same drive rubbed off on Keats, who now oversees one of the most recognizable marketing programs in all of sports: the Allstate field goal nets program. As director of integrated marketing communications at the Chicago-based insurance company, Keats has the opportunity to work on something that also fulfills a passion: college sports.

His playing days as an offensive tackle at Division III Kenyon College were cut short when he suffered a broken neck. He tried coaching but didn’t care for the lifestyle that came with it. So his mother, recalling her old neighbors across the street, suggested that Keats try sports marketing. Brett Yormark helped Keats land a marketing assistant position with the then New Jersey Nets.

His next 15 years were spent on the agency side, directing sponsorship for General Motors and more recently working with State Farm at The Marketing Arm. That provided the avenue for Keats to learn the marketing angles of insurance.

Keats left The Marketing Arm in 2011 to join Allstate and run its expansive college sports portfolio, most notably the Allstate Sugar Bowl and its NCAA corporate partnership, in addition to the field goal nets program.

“For a guy who ended his football career on the field with an injury, to now overseeing one of the top brands in the college space, it’s really amazing,” Keats said. “It’s such a fantastic medium to reach consumers, and I don’t know if there’s ever been a more exciting time in college football [with the playoff coming]. To be at the forefront of all that makes this an exciting time.”

— Michael Smith

Age: 39
Title: Director, integrated marketing communications
COMPANY: Allstate Insurance Co.
EDUCATION: B.A., Kenyon College
FAMILY: Wife, Sarah; sons Jonathan (3) and Gabriel (8 weeks)
CAREER: Marketing assistant, New Jersey Nets (1995-96); manager, corporate marketing, Integrated Sports International (1997-99); regional promotions manager, regional promotions director, then director of sports/entertainment alliances, General Motors R*Works (1999-2007); vice president, strategic account leader, State Farm, The Marketing Arm (2007-11); Allstate since November 2011
BEST BUSINESS ADVICE RECEIVED: Build and protect your relationships, especially the important ones.
WORST ADVICE RECEIVED: Don’t worry: No one will ever see that.
IPOD PLAYLIST: All Jersey, all the time (Bon Jovi, Springsteen) with some Whitesnake, Journey, Def Leppard and Poison sprinkled in
PERSONALITY, IN A TWEET: Pretty even keel with a sharp twist of East Coast sarcasm
STRESS RELEASE: Insanity workouts and karate
PET PEEVE: Casual Fridays. I’m a little old school.
GUILTY PLEASURE: Homemade chocolate chip cookies
FANTASY JOB: Tight end for the N.Y. Giants
FAVORITE MOVIE LINES: “Don’t think. It can only hurt the ballclub.” (“Bull Durham”); “Now you see that evil will always triumph because good is dumb.” (“Spaceballs”)