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Volume 20 No. 42
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Kenyatta Bynoe, Spalding

Photo by: DRAE BROWN
hen Kenyatta Bynoe was promoted to vice president of global brand marketing at Spalding last year, she was met with an empowering, yet daunting, mandate: Remake an iconic brand that had fallen behind in the spaces that were most relevant to the young consumers who should represent its core, turning awareness into engagement.

Kenyatta Bynoe
Spalding // Vice president, global brand marketing and partnerships

“It starts with being present where they are,” said Bynoe, who came to Spalding three years ago after spending most of her career marketing automotive brands. “When I started the job, we weren’t present. We were relying on exposure we get through our partnership with the NBA, but we weren’t present where young athletes were consuming content.”

Bynoe attacked that shortcoming on two fronts. She augmented the long-standing relationship with the league, which was badly lacking flesh and blood, by signing a half dozen NBA players, including Chris Paul, Damian Lillard and DeMar DeRozan, to represent the brand at clinics and in digital content. And she radically redesigned the website, creating a basketball hub that hinges on the idea that Spalding can help you become a better player, pegged to the hashtag True Believers.

“It was overwhelming at first when you think about everything you wanted to do and knew needed to be done,” Bynoe said. “But it’s about developing a road map and then implementing it. I took almost a year to develop that road map. You really want to fit with the strategic imperatives of the business, but at the same time you’re learning the business, figuring out who the right partners are and what the right resources are.

“It was a big adjustment personally and professionally.” 

— Bill King

  • Where born: Flint, Mich.
  • Education: Central Michigan, B.S. in public relations; Eastern Michigan, M.S. in integrated marketing communications.
  • Attribute I look for when hiring: Courage. I think in marketing there is a degree of fearlessness that you need. You can overanalyze. You need to have a level of trust in yourself and the consumer.
  • Networking tip I’ve learned: A smile goes a long way. Networking is hard for me. I feel like it requires making conversation when you don’t necessarily have something to say. But when you smile, it lightens up the mood and creates an opportunity for dialogue that may have felt awkward before that.
  • Best advice I’ve received for career development: Never stop learning. Every time you graduate or achieve something, you want to feel like: I’m there; it’s over. But the truth is it’s just the beginning of the next step. I’ve followed that mantra through my career. I can always learn.
  • If I had it to do over again, I would: Start my career in the sport industry. It’s what I wanted to do in college and I sort of got sidetracked from that, being from Michigan and with automotive being the dominant industry. It took me a while to get around to being what I always wanted to be.
  • Woman in sports business I’d most like to meet: Doris Burke. I think she does an incredible job of connecting with athletes when she does an interview. She’s able to connect with them, understand them and bring the best out of them in the interview process.
  • Is discussion about challenges women face working in sports necessary or played out? I think it’s necessary. But not limited to sports. The challenges we face as women in business is the conversation that needs to be ongoing.
  • Cause supported: The Jalen Rose Leadership Academy in Detroit, a charter school founded by Jalen. I’ve been working with them since it was founded … mentoring students there. I started with a mentee in ninth grade who is now at U of M.