Forty Under 40: Joe Smith
What’s the best way to gain some street cred when marketing the Chicago Marathon?
Senior Vice President, Global Sponsorship Marketing, Bank of America
Education: Gonzaga University, BBA, marketing, and B.A., public relations; University of Massachusetts, MBA and M.A., sport management
Family: Wife, Erica; children, Sofia (7), Max (6)
You wish you knew 10 years ago: What goes on behind the scenes when a client makes a decision.
Guilty pleasure: Chocolate chip cookies and ice cream.
You could not go a day without: Running.
Cause supported: Apparo. My wife is a member of the board of directors here in Charlotte.
Person in the industry you’d most like to meet: Phil Knight.
Sports industry needs to do a better job of … : Hiring more women in positions of leadership.
Most thrilling/adventurous thing you’ve done: Completing the 2010 Florida Ironman.
We’d be surprised to know that … : My friends from home referred to me as “Darren the Intern” (Seinfeld reference) because of all my sports marketing internships in undergraduate and graduate school.
For Bank of America’s Joe Smith, it was simple: Just run it yourself. Amid posting a personal best time of 2 hours, 54 minutes, Smith last year led the operational execution and administration for the race in the Windy City. That event, along with the International Chicago 5K and the Shamrock Shuffle (8K), helped to collectively deliver around $330 million in economic impact and raise over $18 million for both local and national charities. Having friends and family greet him at the finish line was icing on the cake.
As part of leading the bank’s long-standing relationship with MLB and seven partner clubs, in 2017 Smith oversaw the evolution of the #MLBmemorybank program in which fans shared their favorite baseball memories across all social platforms. Later, select participants were rewarded with unique MLB experiences and prizes, including tickets to the World Series. The program was a home run for Bank of America, helping take its social benchmarks to new heights and resulting in 27.2 million video views across social channels.
Smith, a former soccer player at Gonzaga, was like most young kids in that he knew he wanted a career in sports at an early age. As his college career came to an end, he accepted it wasn’t going to be on the playing side.
“I needed to find another way to realize that dream. That’s when I really fell in love with all my marketing and PR classes,” he said.
He also credits several early career mentors with helping him develop his skill set. The dedication and focus from being a college athlete didn’t hurt either. While at Gonzaga, Smith knew he wasn’t the most talented player on the team. But he might have been its hardest worker.