Even before the news broke on Tuesday that owner Mikhail Prokhorov may, or may not, be selling the team, the Brooklyn Nets and the Barclays Center were still top of mind for thousands of fans in the New York area. A good part of that buzz has come from the aggressive and proactive marketing and communications strategy the team has had under Brett Yormark since even before the club moved from New Jersey and the arena became a gleaming reality. Last week a bigger part of that buzz and planning fell to the Nets new Chief Marketing Officer, Elisa Padilla, who has moved up the rankings to now become one of the most influential personalities, let alone Hispanic women, in the field of sports business. We caught up with Elisa to talk about how she got to the new gig with the Nets, and what lies ahead. (her bio follows)
The Nets have always been one of the most aggressively marketed franchises in the last 5-7 years. How has that changed/evolved with the move to Barclays?
Our approach since moving to Brooklyn has been to take the 360 approach when marketing the team. We want to be where our fans and potential new fans live, work and play. Our move to Brooklyn was a complete transformation of the Nets brand, so we are still in our infancy stage when you think about the product life cycle. We want to promote and grow the brand in an organic manner; continue to build our fandom, develop partnerships with brands that are aligned with our same goals and be part of the community.
You have a very strong role as being both a woman and being Latina. How does your perspective enhance what the team can/will do to market to those fan bases?
I bring a totally different perspective to the table. When thinking about marketing the team, we have to make sure that we are doing it in a relevant manner to Hispanics, Women, Youth and the other segments that are important to us from a brand perspective. For the Hispanic segment, you can’t simply translate copy because being Hispanic isn’t simply about speaking Spanish. There are inherent cultural differences that we think about. It’s not easy, but at the end of the day, the goal is to evoke emotion to drive action. Our goal is to fuel our fan base through the game of basketball. That’s the key driver – to evoke the emotion for the love of the game.
What message do you like to share with young people looking to engage in the business today?
Work hard. Know your audience. Don’t assume. It’s taken me 20+ years to get to where I am today. It’s been an amazing journey and I had a plan. I knew where I wanted to be and made decisions along the way to put me in the best position to achieve my goals. However, I’ve never taken anything for granted and to this day, I know I have to earn my chair.
The Barclays Center has been very aggressive in bringing in other events outside of the nets. How does having the Atlantic 10 Tournament, All-Star Weekend, even the Islanders, help the marketing of the Nets from your perspective?
Barclays Center is the home of the Brooklyn Nets. Hosting all these other events helps to continue to expand the global profile of the Nets. Since we currently have a five franchises platform [Brooklyn Nets, Brooklyn Boxing, Brooklyn Family, Brooklyn Hoops, Brooklyn Show] , soon to be six franchises when the Islanders arrive, it’s a great opportunity to cross promote all franchises to grow the audiences.
Who are the 2-3 brands that do the best activation job with the team and why?
American Express – We just launched Brooklyn eWallet. This product allows consumers at Barclays Center to pay for food at over 100 concession stands with their mobile device.
Adidas – We’ve done a lot of first merchandise programs with adidas. They have helped us drive our business globally.
From a marketing perspective, how does the team tie in brands in the other boroughs and Long Island?
When we arrived in Brooklyn it was important to us to own the borough of Brooklyn. W wanted to make sure that Brooklynites embraced us as their home team. Through advertising, partner activation and community outreach we are expanding our presence in the other boroughs. As a growing brand, we want to get people to try us. Come to Barclays Center, attend a game, experience the culinary program, etc. We hope that once you have sampled us, you’ll be back.
Is there still a place for the team to market to New Jersey?
The team will always have ties to New Jersey since that was our home for so long. Yes, there is opportunity because we think of New Jersey as part of the tri-state area. We have a strategy in place to expand our messaging beyond Brooklyn.
In looking ahead, what are the 2-3 goals you have on your list to help grow the Nets brand in the next year, regardless of how the team does on the court?
As the brand has grown, we have evolved into a lifestyle brand and there is tremendous opportunity for us. We want to grow our fan base; engaging our current fans and convert them to hardcore fans, bring in new fans. We want to be relevant in the multicultural space and we want align with great partners that share our sample passion and vision for the Brooklyn Nets.
As Chief Marketing Officer for the Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center, Elisa Padilla oversees all of the marketing efforts for the team and arena, including branding, advertising, merchandising, database research, creative, websites, and social media.
Padilla seamlessly led the rebranding strategy of the Nets from New Jersey to Brooklyn, and is the creator of the award-winning branding campaign, Hello Brooklyn. She played a key role in establishing the brand identity for Barclays Center by branding its five programming franchises. Padilla is also leading the marketing efforts for the venue’s sixth programming franchise, the New York Islanders, who will begin playing in Brooklyn in the fall of 2015.
Padilla joined the Nets in 2010 as a Director, was named Vice President in 2012, Senior Vice President in 2014, and was promoted to her current role in 2015. She has defined her skills in the areas of sports, entertainment, event and Hispanic marketing, building success in developing creative marketing campaigns, strategies, and solutions with desired results.
Prior to joining the Nets, Padilla accumulated nearly 20 years of experience in the marketing industry, working with high profile sports and entertainment companies such as AT&T, HBO Sports, Nickelodeon, the NBA and the New York Knicks. During her time at AT&T, she developed marketing plans targeted at the Hispanic Segment that resulted in solid customer acquisition and retail distribution expansion in key highly Hispanic traffic areas. She also spearheaded marketing efforts for the opening of the first AT&T store in New York City’s Chinatown.
Padilla first honed her Hispanic marketing skills at HBO Sports, where she created a bilingual advertising campaign which delivered record breaking results of 2.15M buys generating $120M in revenue. During a successful stint at the NBA, Padilla developed the marketing plan for the 2002 NBA All-Star Jam Session, which sold out for the first time in the event’s history.
Padilla taught Sports Marketing at New York University, where she was an Adjunct Faculty Member for five years. She also served on the National Board of Women in Sports and Events (WISE), where she retains her membership. Featured in Sports Business Daily, Courier Life, and Hispanic Executive magazine, Padilla has received awards from El Diario, the largest Spanish newspaper in New York City, and Courier Life, who named her a ‘Brooklyn Woman of Distinction.’
A native of Newark, NJ, Padilla has an M.B.A in Marketing from Fairleigh Dickinson University and a B.S. in Communications from Centenary College. She currently resides in New Jersey.