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Volume 23 No. 13
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NFL makes new hire, eyes influencers to improve local marketing

The NFL is taking two further steps to help its 32 teams with local marketing — hiring a new staffer to coordinate between CMO Tim Ellis and clubs, and buying software that helps teams recruit social media influencers in their regions.

Prior to training camp, Ellis hired Taryn Hutt as senior director of club marketing. Hutt, who worked with Ellis at the video game publisher Activision, is supposed to keep clubs informed of, and aligned with, league-level marketing initiatives and bring back ideas for other ways the league might help teams. 

She will work closely with both Ellis’s staff and account directors inside the NFL’s club business development division, who work directly with certain teams to improve their business operations. The club business development division has been around for many years, but the league has expanded its duties, and in 2018, assigned staffers to specific teams.

Sources said they’re hopeful Hutt can bridge the gap that’s often present between the league, which is more likely to be focused on broad brand initiatives, and clubs, which are more focused on day-to-day revenue generation and activations.

The Chargers have used Blake Wynn, shown with LaDainian Tomlinson, to reach younger fans.
Photo: twitter
The Chargers have used Blake Wynn, shown with LaDainian Tomlinson, to reach younger fans.
Photo: twitter
The Chargers have used Blake Wynn, shown with LaDainian Tomlinson, to reach younger fans.
Photo: twitter

Separately, each club will soon get access to new artificial intelligence software, licensed by the league, that claims to help find the most important online celebrities in any given city. Teams can then use that to recruit and hire influencers to help spread the team’s identity to young and digitally savvy fans, like the Chargers have with YouTube star Blake Wynn. Ellis told teams it will be useful in all markets.

After joining the NFL one year ago, Ellis named influencer marketing as one of his three pillars in a reorganization he instituted. He’s put another former Activision colleague, Ian Trombetta, in charge of that.

Influencer software still requires individual expertise, said Greg Goldring, vice president of Cogent Entertainment Marketing, a veteran of athlete and celebrity scouting for brands. The “right” influencer is not just the best-followed celebrity in any given market, but the one that carries true fandom with a broad reach and a good brand alignment. 

“It’s a great tool and a great headline, but again it comes down to how the teams are going to use it,” Goldring said. “It’s only going to be as efficient as the people using the tool, and how well they know how to execute influencer marketing.”