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Volume 26 No. 25
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SBJ All-Access: Brand Engagement Summit Wraps Up

Another Intersport Brand Engagement & Content Summit is in the books. Our eighth iteration of the event wrapped up on Thursday, so we want to thank all of you who made it out to Chicago for another great event. Also a big thanks for our speakers, panelists and sponsors.

Day 2 on Thursday began with our first live "Deep Dish" morning show, where Intersport's Charlie Besser and Brian Graybill joined SBJ's Abe Madkour and Terry Lefton to chat for 30 minutes about the state of sports business, sponsorship and marketing (check it out here if you missed the live version).

"Deep Dish" aired live from Chicago to open up the second day of this year's conference
  • The panel discussed Heineken USA CMO Jonnie Cahill's remarks to open the conference on Wednesday, where he impressed upon the execs in the audience to not focus so much on impressions. Lefton said of his takeaway from Cahill: "The focus on metrics and analytics has pushed it. I think ideally, it's a blend of black magic and science. And we're still trying to find the equilibrium. And with the advent of the analytics guys, we're sort of being pushed and we're finding somewhere in the middle." Besser believes analytics can "become a crutch and it can be a reason to not do things." Besser: "Trying to create joy, that's the fun stuff and that's where the art meets science and that is what separates the great marketers from the pretenders."

  • A panel on Wednesday looked at the success of the Browns and the Bud Light Fridge this past season, and Graybill during "Deep Dish" said of the effort from A-B InBev, "It was fun, because obviously it leveraged their partnerships and their IP with the NFL and the Browns, which is important. Not every brand -- despite having the use of the marks or the access to the marks -- does a particularly good job of developing them. But it was a great idea and something that would never pencil out theoretically on paper." Besser said of the industry becoming too stat-focused: "That would clearly be no fun."

  • Lefton said he is watching CBD/pot and jersey patches. He said of the growing CBD sponsorship category: "There are deals with people like Martha Stewart. Is that mainstream enough for you? Three PGA [Tour] golfers, three cars in the Indy 500." Besser added, "We have unleashed our sales force to make sure that they're talking to all of the CBD manufacturers." Besser also noted he's watching compensation for college athletes. Graybill is still watching the rollout of sports betting and how legislatures continue to move on the issue.


(l-r) NASCAR's Tim Clark, Xenith's Tammy DeMarco and Allstate's Dan Keats talk breaking through the noise
  • The first panel discussion on Thursday revolved around tips for driving brand value through authentic and engaging experiences (i.e. breaking through the noise). NASCAR's Tim Clark discussed how his sanctioning body is moving away from one title sponsor to a multi-sponsor approach at the premier level. Clark: "I don't want you to have to go make a phone call to a broadcast partner and then make a phone call to the track and then make a phone call to the brand department and the partnership marketing department or the team. ... Our new sponsor model is designed to attack that." 

  • Allstate has been using ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit as an endorser, and the brand's Dan Keats said while having the longtime college football analyst deliver content is great, "how do we get him doing more things showing off his expertise?"


  • One of the better moments from Day 2 came during a discussion with around Sleep Number's partnership with the Vikings. At the end of the session, the NFL's official sleep and wellness partner surprised attendees announcing it would be giving away one of their beds, and did so by putting a sleep number tag under a chair. The big winner? Blue Jackets Partnership Activation Specialist Victoria King, who was kind enough to share her excitement on Twitter. Congrats Victoria!
    (l-r) Sleep Number's Kevin Brown, the Blue Jackets' Victoria King and the Vikings' Kevin Warren


  • We've been keeping an eye out on the #SBJEngage during the last few days. Some of our favorite Twitter engagements:

    • USA Swimming's Kara Raney brought up the moment from Tuesday night's Royals-White Sox game, where the first pitch went a little awry and hit a cameraman standing near the mound (most attendees were likely listening to owner Jerry Reinsdorf give a great talk on baseball and leadership). But Raney tweeted, "Oh the irony of being at this game to kick off the #SBJEngage conference (aka 48 hours of talking about engaging social/marketing content." Needless to say, Raney was right on the money, as the clip of the wild pitch has gone viral and is now NBC Sports Chicago's most-watched clip ever.

    • Opendorse's Sam Weber was a fan of Jonnie Cahill from Heineken USA and the message he delivered on Day 1. Weber tweeted: "Think first. Count second. Great brand lessons." POV Sports Marketing's Molly Arbogast was also a fan of Cahill's remarks, tweeting, "Impressions are good, but driving connection and joy moves the brand forward. Well said."

    • Daktronics' Justin Ochsner tweeted of both a panel on increasing the value of social media and Baron Davis' Q&A to close Day 1: "Fantastic discussions about #socialmedia use and betting on yourself."