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Volume 20 No. 41
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NBA’s investment in marketing brings new CMO

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver continues to put his stamp on the league, last week announcing the creation of a chief marketing officer position to be filled by industry veteran Pamela El amid a new marketing strategy.

El, who comes to the NBA from Nationwide Insurance and 11 years previously at State Farm Insurance, begins her job Aug. 18. She will report to NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum and will help direct what Tatum calls a new 365-day approach to marketing the NBA’s brand.


“We think there is an opportunity to grow our fan base, and a way to do that is strategic marketing where we are marketing the brand every day,” Tatum said. “What is different is that we are going to invest in marketing and go out and identify opportunities to grow our sport. We will market every day of the year, and it will be very targeted.”

One particular area of focus, Tatum said, will be for El to beef up the league’s CRM effort. “We will use data to identify the people we need to go after, and she brings that as well,” he said.

The NBA has cycled through several senior marketing executives in recent years. Jamie Gallo, former NBA executive vice president/marketing, served from June 2012 until leaving the league in January. Carol Albert was NBA senior vice president of marketing from 2008 to 2009 before joining Madison Square Garden, and Gary Zarr worked as executive vice president of marketing and communications for the NBA from 2007 to 2008. Greg Economou worked as senior vice president of marketing for the NBA in 2006.

El has a familiarity with the league: While at State Farm, she played a key role in the company’s sponsorship deal with the NBA and its endorsement deal with LeBron James.

“She has been on the other side doing marketing with the NBA,” Tatum said, “so she has that credibility.”