Sorry, no posts matched your criteria
Sorry, no posts matched your criteria
The pro and amateur sports and live entertainment worlds and their tangents that sell tickets (primary and secondary markets), merchandise and travel/hospitality are sitting atop data bases that are puritanically protected, single-mindedly commercialized and inattentively allowed to go fallow.
Enter a platform that respects the core sales priorities of the data base owner . . . but motivates increased engagement 24 x 7, reducing defection/ratcheting retention, and creates incremental earnings opportunities for the data base owner through both transaction commissions stemming from the day-to-day buying and non-buying activities of people in the data base and increased value for sponsors through new, measurable activation benefits. And all of this can be accomplished without adding staff or marketing expense.
Enter our client which has built a powerful technology platform and attracted a universe of partners that reads like a VIP invitation list to a regency rally for the nation’s leading traffic engines, e.g., Amazon.com, Apple iTunes, Best Buy, DirecTV, Disney Stores, Macy’s, Nordstroms, Safeway, Target and others
We will be the business development bridge between our client, companies like these examples above and the sports/entertainment worlds.
Strikeforce MMA was the second leading player in the mixed martial arts industry in early 2009 when I was retained by the co-owners, Silicon Valley Sports & Entertainment (now Sharks Sports & Entertainment) and founder Scott Coker (pictured below), to take on an interim Chief Marketing Officer role and sit on the Executive Committee that met weekly defining the direction and growth strategy of the company. Given my general, marketing and sales management experience at senior levels in industry and the sports world, this is a role that I am suited for, having also effectively served in this manner for a number of early stage technology companies at the behest of investors, VCs and/or CEOs.
Mixed martial arts is the first event-driven sport built through internet-housed media/commentary and free cable reality programming. It is clear that Strikeforce’s dominant competitor, Ultimate Fighting Championship, knows and leverages these success elements very well, using them to fuel demand for its lucrative pay-per-view business. UFC was an aggressive, pervasive and no-holds-barred influence in the blogosphere and all forms of social media, shaping commentator and fan opinion about the industry, the competing promoter companies and their stables of talented fighters. Their CEO, Dana White, a magnet for media attention, is one of the world’s most prominently followed Twitter practitioners.
While Strikeforce’s Scott Coker was building an enviable stable of respected and captivating men and women fighters, some of whom could stand up well to their more highly publicized UFC counterparts, Strikeforce marketing was also stoking the constructive coals of competition on the web. I recruited a young web and MMA savvy web site designer that led to investing in a video rich and interactive web site upgrade and directed a national search for a social media-conscious PR firm that led to retaining the political PR powerhouse firm headed by Joe Trippi, whose staff taught us the ways of the social media battlefield.
Eventually, in March 2011, UFC acquired Strikeforce in a transaction that financially served all ownership parties well. Many factors made Strikeforce appealing to UFC, including the fact the price would be a good bit higher a year later. But the value of Strikeforce, in addition to providing UFC with a ready-made source of talent for its increasingly global event appetite, can be attributed to the increasingly strong and positive voice Strikeforce established among commentators and fans in social media and the blogosphere.
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.
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.
During the the launch of the San Jose Sharks in the early 90s, graphics excellence was highly valued, from the design of the original logos and uniforms, collateral materials and game staging production values (including the iconic Shark Head Tunnel) to commissioned art employed on game magazine covers and retained as part of the franchise’s private collection and heritage. Among the stable of almost 20 graphic artists and illustrators recruited to execute this commitment, five stand out. Read more
George/Gordon Gund (Owners: Cleveland Cavaliers, Cleveland Barons/Minnesota North Stars and San Jose Sharks) . . . introduced to me by my former employer, McKinsey & Co., asked for assistance to determine the success prospects and risks at the Richfield Coliseum near Cleveland for their newly acquired, struggling Barons NHL club (formerly the California Seals); they took my assessment and conclusions to the NHL Board of Governors to help make the case for the unprecedented action, relocating the Barons franchise and merging it with the Minnesota North Stars.
See SI feature for in-depth insight into the principals.
To gain these insights, we can carried out in-depth qualitative and quantitative marketing research with the region’s pro hockey followers, event attenders and those who had defected, followers who had stopped attending. In this case, we found that the Barons attending fan base was heavily segmented by seat location preferences, patrons with the deepest hockey knowledge preferring to sit in the corners and behind the goals in mid-range to high locations, while basketball crossovers, newly introduced or lightly wed to hockey, were drawn to the red line at center ice.
John McMullen (Owner – New Jersey Devils) . . . Then also the owner of another client, the Houston Astros, McMullen retained us (including colleague Douglas K. Nelson) to (a) help re-launch his newly born New Jersey Devils National Hockey League club (formerly the Colorado Rockies) 60 days before its opening puck-drop, (b) restructure its pricing and season plan packaging 30 days after the original plan had been announced and (c) recapture his personal credibility with the New York media. Top tier season plan buyers were given access to the nearby Pegasus Club in return for a front-end long term loan to the club, inadvertently foreshadowing seat licenses.
How the first 30-60 days of a new ownership are managed can have lasting implications for the marketing of a sports franchise and how fans, media and prospects view not only owner intentions but the brand personality. Faltering first impressions are costly to reverse.
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.
Dan Finnane/Jim Fitzgerald (Owners – Golden State Warriors) . . . Upon acquiring the franchise from Franklin Mieuli, this hard-nosed business partnership who had recently sold the Milwaukee Bucks, retained us to help them reinvigorate waning interest in the Warriors and to recruit a new Director of Marketing. The national search led us to an upcoming marketing talent in his mid-20s making heartland waves in indoor soccer , Tod Leiweke, now CEO and co-owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Armed with the fresh market and fan insights that we provided him, Leiweke deftly orchestrated a staff reorganization and reinvention of the Warriors franchise.
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.
Boards of cultural institutions from coast-to-coast have asked for insights to help drive attendance, subscriptions/plans and contributions, leading to having assisted museums, theatre/repertory groups, opera companies and symphonies.
Usually, the learning highway runs from sports & live entertainment to the arts groups. But the art of arts marketing is becoming increasingly sophisticated.
We helped one long-standing musical theatre organization better understand its own market segmentation so that it could increase the appeal of its show offerings and the effectiveness of its marketing programming/message persuasiveness and get more pop for its always constrained resources.
Drawing on a battery of focus groups and audience surveys we conducted, the following segmentation was developed and embraced.
Heydays . . . These were patrons introduced to musical theatre during the 40s through 60s. They enjoy seeing the great shows of that Golden Age. These might include Sound of Music, Fiddler on the Roof and My Fair Lady.
Experientials . . . These patrons were drawn to the downtown, enjoying the 360º experience – “dinner and a show” at an affordable price. They look for quality, appreciate convenience and reasonable pricing. Their interest is not tied to a particular show but respond to valued added experiences.
Escapists . . . These patrons seek relief from day-to-day demands. They like memorable music, high energy dance, shows that fill the theatre and predictable plots. Shows they enjoy include 42nd Street, A Chorus Line, Evita, Les Misrables and West Side Story.
There are two sub-segments that flow from the first three . . .
Melodics . . . This group is comprised of a broad range of individuals whose love for musical theatre stems from a positive, early life experience with music. Many were introduced to musical theatre by their parents.
Loyalists . . . This group is very supportive of the theatre company and its long term audience growth challenges, even though they may not like the “risky” shows periodically produced to attract a new audience. It always finds something to like about each show.
Capitalizing on insights like these increases productivity and results. Count on it.