Branding, Market Research, New Revenue

Hands Off that NFL Intellectual Property!

When the National Football League retained me in the late 1990s as an expert defense witness in its extended litigation regarding intellectual property, licensing and marketing best practices issues with the Oakland Raiders, Holly House (Anti-trust and general litigator with Bingham McCutchen LLC) was my point person in the process which lasted into the early […]

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Market Penetration, Organization Effectiveness, Technology/Sports Equation

Our Silicon Valley Roots Give Clients an Advantage

Since 2003, magnified by our presence in Silicon Valley, my partners and I have been retained by Boards, venture capital and angel investors, founders and CEOs of early stage tech companies seeking our guidance and assistance to gain footholds in the sports industry or with sports fans/consumers. They have run the gamut from mobile, tablet […]

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Branding, Innovations, Market Penetration, Organization Effectiveness, Technology/Sports Equation

Leveraging the New Edition to Attract New NBA Fans

Commissioned by NBA Commissioner  David Stern,  Bob Brand and I conceived a way for the NBA to engage its teen age fans in their mid-80s idiom, the music video. Irving Azoff, then president of MCA Records, now Executive Chairman of Live Nation Entertainment, agreed to provide 85% of the funding for the unprecedented collaboration, featuring […]

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Branding, Innovations, Organization Effectiveness, Product Development, Technology/Sports Equation

Before there was Moneyball there was Edge 1.000: The Prequel

Roy Eisenhardt (President/CEO – Oakland A’s) . . . In 1980, leading Major League Baseball into a new technology-enabled age, hired my company’s STATS, Inc. subsidiary (Sports Team Analysis & Tracking Systems), co-owned with Dr. Richard Cramer, noted Sabermetrician,  to develop EDGE 1.000 ™. Eisenhardt made it clear from the outset that he wanted to […]

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Market Research, Marketing, New Revenue

Phoenix Downtown Reinvented by Client

Jerry Colangelo (Owner – Phoenix Suns) . . . Confronted with skeptical political naysayers and self-anointed sports economics experts about the value of a new downtown arena in Phoenix, Colangelo retained us to conduct an economic impact study to provide him with an independent and rational tool that helped him argue his case before the […]

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Market Research, Marketing, Organization Effectiveness

Previous Mets Fan Insights Would Help Them Today

The spate of interim league takeovers and new owners acquiring existing franchises (frequently with facilities assets) in Major League Baseball, the NBA and NHL   is inevitably accompanied by dramatic alterations to operating and debt service economics and fan base uncertainty or malaise. Incoming owners always want to put a personal stamp of added value […]

Continue Reading

Innovations, Market Penetration, Market Research, New Revenue

Make Team Owners Smile by Improving Local TV Ratings

If any major sport has an attractive regional TV ratings upside independent of overall team performance, hockey does. . . And if any sport suffers from the gap between its live event electricity and its TV viewing experience, hockey does. So “what’s new?” you ask. There is a proven low tech way to move the […]

Continue Reading

Innovations, Organization Effectiveness, Product Development, Technology/Sports Equation

George Steinbrenner Lives: Bought Moneyball Technology Early

George Steinbrenner (Owner – New York Yankees) . . . in the bowels of Yankee Stadium, having secured buy-in from key executives of the club to purchase our EDGE 1.000 performance tracking and data base management system, two colleagues (Tom Black, Don Leopold) and I presented the system to Steinbrenner for final approval. This was […]

Continue Reading

Branding, Market Penetration, Market Research, Product Development

Birthing the San Jose Sharks

Art Savage  retained me five months before the National Hockey League granted Bay Area expansion rights to George and Gordon Gund(shown here). The first CEO of the new club, initially dubbed “Bay Area Hockey ’91″, Savage asked me to craft the new franchise’s overall business plan, organization/ staffing plan, marketing/sales plan (including naming the team […]

Continue Reading

Branding, Building2Sell, Marketing

Early Stage Enterprises: Our Comfort Zone

Growth potential, disruptive technology and profit economics top the list of factors influencing an emerging company’s value. But without perceived brand value embodied in its image/reputation/marketplace validation, customer excitement/buying traction, a multi-layered “story” that piques imagination and a prominent scent of innovation and leadership, investors will never even get to the due diligence process, let […]

Continue Reading

Branding, Market Research, New Revenue

Hands Off that NFL Intellectual Property!

Posted on 20 August 2012

When the National Football League retained me in the late 1990s as an expert defense witness in its extended litigation regarding intellectual property, licensing and marketing best practices issues with the Oakland Raiders, Holly House (Anti-trust and general litigator with Bingham McCutchen LLC) was my point person in the process which lasted into the early 2000s and resulted in  a positive outcome for the NFL. It was good to have her on our side of the table.

When it comes to intellectual property, don’t mess with the NFL.

My work in the case was to build analytical support of NFL defense arguments as well as to draw on my consumer packaged goods, retailing and licensed goods experience when dissecting the assumptions and forecasts being mounted by the high-powered and court savvy expert witnesses retained by the opposition.  Because the proceedings lasted as long as they did I was deposed on two occasions, approximately four years apart.

Litigation support and preparing for expert witness testimony are demanding disciplines, not always leading to winning outcomes. Fortunately, working with highly competent litigators in behalf of leagues and sporting goods companies, I have a highly respectable batting average.

This was not only a case of protecting NFL assets, their intellectual property and trademarks, but about protecting the revenue streams that flowed from them.

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Market Penetration, Organization Effectiveness, Technology/Sports Equation

Our Silicon Valley Roots Give Clients an Advantage

Posted on 15 August 2012

Since 2003, magnified by our presence in Silicon Valley, my partners and I have been retained by Boards, venture capital and angel investors, founders and CEOs of early stage tech companies seeking our guidance and assistance to gain footholds in the sports industry or with sports fans/consumers.

They have run the gamut from mobile, tablet and/or web apps to game and software development companies as well as WiFi and online loyalty/retention platform ventures.

Recently, a Monterey, CA-based manufacturer (People Towels) of a new “green” version of a standard premium giveaway – they call it the Eco-Rally Towel™ – retained us to help them break into Major League Baseball. Beyond the the product being fair trade made and with organic cottons, it features manna for sponsors, an Eco-Tag™ that both tells the image-enhancing “green” story and doubles as a retail coupon or vehicle to deliver a QR code. . . in essence a self-liquidating premium giveaway.  Everybody wins – the environment, fans, team and the sponsor.

Also, because of my experience as the CMO of an online K-8 education and professional development company, organizations developing hardware and software for the digital classroom and home schooling have also sought us out.

Our roles have been both strategic and operating in nature, being engaged as interim operating executives spearheading business development, product development, sales and brand building/public relations functions. We have also augmented the credibility and depth of senior management teams in their capital raising efforts.

Because of our wide reaching understanding of the inner workings of sports entities and sports fans (we have interviewed more than 850,000 of the latter), we assist our clients by helping them understand and  capitalize on

  • How, when leagues and teams make decisions
  • What motivates innovation
  • Variations in risk tolerance
  • Who are the leaders and followers
  • Behavior and attitudes of fan segments
  • How performance economics influence decisions
  • How to approach different sports and management levels
  • How to gain buy-in, overcome barriers
  • Sensitivity to implementation issues

 

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Branding, Innovations, Market Penetration, Organization Effectiveness, Technology/Sports Equation

Leveraging the New Edition to Attract New NBA Fans

Posted on 10 August 2012

Commissioned by NBA Commissioner  David Stern,  Bob Brand and I conceived a way for the NBA to engage its teen age fans in their mid-80s idiom, the music video.

Irving Azoff, then president of MCA Records, now Executive Chairman of Live Nation Entertainment, agreed to provide 85% of the funding for the unprecedented collaboration, featuring their hot new group sensation, The New Edition.

Stern, who had signed off on the concept for the NBA and agreed to pick up the 15% balance if we found the partner and the appropriate talent then ensured our access to an NBA arena, in-game and post game, and paved the way to CBS Sports who produced a “making of the video” for halftime of one of its NBA finals telecasts.

From an organization point-of-view, this is a good example of how imaginative league leadership, an individual franchise owner (in this case, Dr. Jerry Buss), an entertainment industry partner and a firm like ours playing a producer/director/creator role can can introduce successful innovation.

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Branding, Innovations, Organization Effectiveness, Product Development, Technology/Sports Equation

Before there was Moneyball there was Edge 1.000: The Prequel

Posted on 06 August 2012

Roy Eisenhardt (President/CEO – Oakland A’s) . . . In 1980, leading Major League Baseball into a new technology-enabled age, hired my company’s STATS, Inc. subsidiary (Sports Team Analysis & Tracking Systems), co-owned with Dr. Richard Cramer, noted Sabermetrician,  to develop EDGE 1.000 ™. Eisenhardt made it clear from the outset that he wanted to increase radio and TV ratings, the enjoyment of fans and the value of the broadcasts to advertisers.

This was the first computerized pitch-by-pitch and pitcher/batter/fielder tendencies information gathered in real time for the purpose of player performance evaluation, game tactics planning and the statistical enrichment of play-by-play radio and TV broadcasts (Apple, provided the development hardware which also included Hayes modems, a DEC mainframe and a Corvus hard drive) . Jay Alves, now an executive with the Colorado Rockies, was recruited to be the first system operator.

We also worked closely with the broadcasters, Bill King and Lon Simmons, to increase their comfort levels with the rapidly updating statistical and trends texture they now had displayed in front of them.

Our EDGE 1.000 provided the initial analytical underpinnings of the A’s amateur player evaluation and drafting process fostered by Sandy Alderson, then Billy Beane and since popularized in the book, Moneyball, by Michael Lewis. The movie version of Moneyball, with Brad Pitt, opens in late 2011.

For the subsequent two decades, the brand image and reputation of the Oakland A’s as well as the confidence instilled in fans would be influenced and shaped by the innovative bent of the Haas family ownership.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Market Research, Marketing, New Revenue

Phoenix Downtown Reinvented by Client

Posted on 28 July 2012

Jerry Colangelo (Owner – Phoenix Suns) . . . Confronted with skeptical political naysayers and self-anointed sports economics experts about the value of a new downtown arena in Phoenix, Colangelo retained us to conduct an economic impact study to provide him with an independent and rational tool that helped him argue his case before the Phoenix City Council. His vision and tough-mindedness have served the city well.

One City Council person called in an oppositional “expert” from a mid-western college to debunk our work. He claimed that our estimate of the project’s impact sounded (he never read our analysis and the study) like “Joe Isuzu economics.” Turns out that we may have under-estimated, not over-estimated the long term impact.

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Market Research, Marketing, Organization Effectiveness

Previous Mets Fan Insights Would Help Them Today

Posted on 06 July 2012

The spate of interim league takeovers and new owners acquiring existing franchises (frequently with facilities assets) in Major League Baseball, the NBA and NHL   is inevitably accompanied by dramatic alterations to operating and debt service economics and fan base uncertainty or malaise. Incoming owners always want to put a personal stamp of added value on their new investments during the first 6-12 months after their assumption of the reins, preferring to take time to assess beyond their due diligence processes what exactly they have bought. . . in other cases, as anyone familiar with Machiavelli will understand, the new owners make their first moves within hours or days.

This has reignited interest (and need) for fresh, objective introspection which is an important segment of our practice.

Rick White (Executive – Major League Baseball Properties, now a sports apparel industry principal),  with support from his boss, Joe Podesta,  anticipated the emergence of league headquarters-provided hands-on, localized marketing guidance to member clubs  when he retained me to carry out market and organization studies of the struggling Seattle Mariners and New York Mets.

Our latter work was completed just as the franchise was sold to Doubleday Publishing and minority investor, Fred Wilpon, so we presented the implications of our findings separately to Nelson Doubleday in his Doubleday Publishing offices and to the latter in his Long Island-situated Sterling Equities offices, his colleagues in attendance. Eventually, Doubleday and Wilpon purchased the club from the publishing house and, later, Wilpon bought out Doubleday.

Since then, when Paul Allen, owner of the Portland Trailblazers, asked the NBA to investigate how he could streamline his business organization and decision making processes, the league created a task force (which retained me to assist), headed by Bernie Mullin,  to help bring the organization into alignment with its newly expressed straight forward mission of effectively running an NBA franchise and its venue as opposed to a once-broader vision of becoming a multifaceted media company.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Innovations, Market Penetration, Market Research, New Revenue

Make Team Owners Smile by Improving Local TV Ratings

Posted on 05 September 2011

If any major sport has an attractive regional TV ratings upside independent of overall team performance, hockey does. . . And if any sport suffers from the gap between its live event electricity and its TV viewing experience, hockey does.

So “what’s new?” you ask.

There is a proven low tech way to move the needle that requires visionary management, hockey/marketing operations collaboration and a modest investment with significant ROI.

We accomplished that, having developed, tested and confirmed the impact of the Viewership Stimulation Lab(VSL) with an NHL club client. The result was a 178% increase in viewership frequency, a 2.3 regional share point gain with the test audience of 200+ households.

Should make an owner or CEO wonder, “How much is a local share point worth to us on the ad/sponsorship revenue/media rights line?” . . . $500,000, $1,000,000, more?  “If it was my construction or technology company, there is certainly a sizable investment I would be willing to make to add $500k-$1MM+ annually to the bottom line.”

Efforts to boost viewership have usually been initiated by the national networks and local carriers, e.g., the “Peter Puck” animation used by NBC and CBC in the 70s, the Fox Trax glowing puck deployed in the 90s,  more/ overhead cameras by many, more behind-the-scenes content by others.

With VSL, Clubs can individually and collectively drive the value of their rights and generate incremental revenues for all parties.

A few of the conclusions from our study included:

  • Increasing the viewing frequency of light viewers, whether or not they are game attenders, is more cost effective than attracting non-viewers;
  • Viewing frequency can be increased across the spectrum of hockey understanding, i.e. neophytes or hard core afficionados;
  • A better understanding of women’s hockey learning needs and content flash points, as well as their role in TV/Cable program viewing choices pays handsome dividends and
  • Both multi-faceted education with reinforcement and a display of “celebrity” influence viewing behavior.

This is a kernel of what VSL promises the NHL, its clubs and its carriers.

 

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Innovations, Organization Effectiveness, Product Development, Technology/Sports Equation

George Steinbrenner Lives: Bought Moneyball Technology Early

Posted on 28 August 2011

George Steinbrenner (Owner – New York Yankees) . . . in the bowels of Yankee Stadium, having secured buy-in from key executives of the club to purchase our EDGE 1.000 performance tracking and data base management system, two colleagues (Tom Black, Don Leopold) and I presented the system to Steinbrenner for final approval. This was the technology we had created with assistance from Apple, DEC, Hayes and Corvus that would make Moneyball possible a few years later. (The Oakland A’s had been our first customer)

He interrupted my opening comments, pulled out an envelope with ten handwritten questions on it regarding our system, saying the Yankees would buy it if I answered “yes” to all ten.  I answered “yes” to the first nine and, with some trepidation, “no, but . . .” to the last. He smiled and nodded at me, turned to his VP Finance, said “buy it”, then abruptly stood up and left the room, others following in his wake, walkie talkies at the ready to warn others elsewhere that he was coming their way.

Side-stepping its telecast and radio broadcast benefits, the Yankees focused on our system’s performance management elements and tools – game tactics planning, player performance evaluation, amateur/professional scouting data base management,  draft/free agent selection and trade planning. (The Chicago White Sox, with Tony LaRussa’s encouragement, and the Houston Astros followed).

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Branding, Market Penetration, Market Research, Product Development

Birthing the San Jose Sharks

Posted on 07 August 2011

Art Savage  retained me five months before the National Hockey League granted Bay Area expansion rights to George and Gordon Gund(shown here). The first CEO of the new club, initially dubbed “Bay Area Hockey ’91″, Savage asked me to craft the new franchise’s overall business plan, organization/ staffing plan, marketing/sales plan (including naming the team and designing its logo family) and week-by-week launch countdown for what became the San Jose Sharks.

Upon completion, he hired me as employee #2 to become the EVP Business Operations, overseeing all revenue streams (tickets, premium seating/suites, sponsorships and merchandise), TV and radio production, community development, advertising/ promotion and media development.

The role also included defining the culture and values of the young entity, ensuring they were synchronized with those of ownership and the marketplace.

We gained an in-depth understanding of the market and its segmentation over a 15-week period with a comprehensive mix of marketing research activity that included 32 focus groups that I moderated, “crowd group” concept testing, executive interviews with corporate and affinity group targets by phone and a global team naming sweepstakes, carrying out $350,000 worth of work for $45,000 out-of-pocket.

Having to launch the franchise twice, once in 1991 at the Cow Palace in Daly City, 40 miles north of San Jose, and two years later in San Jose when the city’s new downtown arena was completed, understanding attitudes influenced by geography and distance as well as familiarity with and interest in hockey was paramount.

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Branding, Building2Sell, Marketing

Early Stage Enterprises: Our Comfort Zone

Posted on 01 August 2012

Growth potential, disruptive technology and profit economics top the list of factors influencing an emerging company’s value.

But without perceived brand value embodied in its image/reputation/marketplace validation, customer excitement/buying traction, a multi-layered “story” that piques imagination and a prominent scent of innovation and leadership, investors will never even get to the due diligence process, let alone ask for the financial statements.

We have exerted an important impact on building high order company value that was embraced by investors, subsequently measurably enhancing the purchase price of four companies and their assets.

  • In the mid-80s, it was Arena Football, helping client inventor/founder Jim Foster refine the game’s attributes and validate or repudiate his early assumptions about how the game should be played and what would appeal to fans. The end product was a compelling case for how Arena Football could succeed and should be marketed, to whom, the plan for which helped Foster find the owner/investors and a TV network to buy into his ambitious dream. Continue Reading
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Branding, Market Research

Identity and Logo Development: Avoid a crapshoot

Posted on 04 March 2012

Whether creating, reinventing or refreshing a team’s, facility’s, event’s or product’s identity, it pays dividends to invest time and effort in a systematic and objective approach.  Shortcuts have paved the way to a mortuary of missed opportunities and costly mistakes.

Here is the process we used building the San Jose Sharks identity and what we learned about how to capitalize on the best practices of consumer-driven industries worldwide.

●          Put someone in charge who has strong project management skills and experience managing the creative process. Then EVP Business Operations, I was assigned responsibility for developing the  team name, logo, uniform design and colors by Art Savage, President & CEO.

●          Build a multifunctional team that understands the customer and is comfortable with experimentation and open to alternatives. We forged a team of freelance talents (rather than delegate the project to one outside agency) to develop the NHL’s first “family” of logos and logotypes, i.e., a primary crest (the shark biting stick treatment), a shoulder patch (the stylized fin), the serrated tooth typeface and an alphabet of its own (Triangle Gothic). Among the four designers engaged to develop the logo family, Terry Smith eventually Continue Reading

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Branding, Market Penetration

Avoid Missing Trade Show Opportunities

Posted on 27 February 2012

Our client, Strikeforce MMA,  was the second most prominent mixed martial arts event promoter in the world until it was acquired in March 2011 by Ultimate Fighting Championship(UFC). My colleague, Bob Brand, and I had a seat on the Executive Committee that ran the company. I was the interim Chief Marketing Officer.

In Columbus, Ohio at the Arnold Sports Festival leading into Strikeforce’s Showtime-telecast event at the Nationwide Arena we made an assertive statement in a 1600 sf trade show space to reach the more than 150,000 Expo attenders whose concern for fitness and embrace of combat sports made them attractive ticket sales and TV-viewing prospects.

Dramatically designed with authentic fighting cage walls, the booth was enriched with Electronic Arts video game (“MMA”) consuls, densely programmed with autographing headline fighters, photo ops, web site- destined streaming video and experts teaching the rudiments of MMA,  as well as an opportunity to send “Messages from Home” to our troops in Afghanistan (4 of the 12 placards with 1500 messages above). Also see “Afghan Initiative”.

Our extensive trade show planning and implementation experience, coupled with the Strikeforce staff dedication, made this a memorable event.

Arnold Schwarzenegger was clearly engaged, walking through the booth as opposed to by it (ours was one of 700+), posing with our fighters, models and armed service personnel and taking an interview on-camera with Showtime.

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