NFL | Sports Marketing & PR Roundup

Bobbleheads For Broadway…

It’s no secret that the most successful promotion in sport, the one with literally the most shelf life, is the bobblehead. So it was great to learn that the bobblehead promo has migrated to theater, and no less to the alleged home of the bobblehead, the Bay Area.

This late winter and spring  the San Francisco engagement of NEWSIES, February 17 – March 15, 2015 will offer up bobbleheads at each of the 32 NEWSIES performances.  It is a promo that has been long in coming but has been challenging to pull off due to licensing, timing and distribution on Broadway, but doing the bobbles as a test away from New York makes great sense.  Disney Theatrical Productions is the first to come on board with the road show of NEWSIE’s which recently ended its long and successful run on New York.

Ironically it is the city of innovation, San Francisco to take the plunge and see what the ROI will be, and it makes great sense. San Fran was the first city to introduce sports fans to the Bobblehead Giveaway concept back in 1999, when the San Francisco Giants Baseball Club handed out 35,000 Willie Mays dolls to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Candlestick Park.  Fifteen years later, bobbleheads (and now Garden Gnomes) are more popular than ever and Bay Area theater fans will be the first to receive a Broadway bobblehead of their own.

The cost of producing bobbles has dropped significantly in recent years, and the limited run with the bobble built into the ticket price, can bring some great value for a kid-oriented play. If it works, copycats beware. Can the Aladdin bobble be far behind?

Great work and perseverance by SHN the preeminent theatrical entertainment company in the Bay Area, and their CMO, Scott Kane, for seeing the value and finding the partner for a crossover promo worth tracking.

What works for one entertainment genre should work for another.

Making Tailgating History…

One of the more documented stories going onto the college football season was the dilemma many colleges were having in engaging their students throughout the mega-experience of Saturday Game days. Millennials don’t take well to five hour long rituals for the most part, they would rather games, and all around it, be fast and easy. Still for its issues, the college game day experience remains a tradition that now alumni of a certain age are engaging their kids with; a little less drinking, a little more throwing the ball around and mixing with friends who also may have kids. A good way to spend a Saturday. Looking to build on that tradition, and engage those families, are a whole host of brands who may seem unconventional to the experience but nonetheless want to hit families who may be less die hard and more casual supporters of alma mater.

One of those new partnerships is with the HISTORY, not exactly your dyed in the wool college football Saturday brand partner. HISTORY this week announced a partnership with IMG to bring the All-American Tailgate Tour to six university campuses. The cross-country tour is big on big, so don’t expect them this year at Colgate or Oberlin. The Tour will stop at Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Ohio State, Michigan and Texas, bringing the “Ultimate Smoker and Grill,” an 80-foot long grill serving up special HISTORY BBQ delicacies. Fans will also get the chance to screen HISTORY TV content from hit series such as Top Gear, American Pickers® and Swamp People and take home HISTORY merchandise. They will also look to partner with brands who engage across their shows and who may also desire that affinity with families on the college map, doing on-campus sampling events with KEURIG and other partners who are a natural fit. Less Jack Daniels, more Jack Daniels barbeque sauce. Less Girls Gone Wild, and more of Moms Feeding The Kids.

The cross promotion makes good sense to build brand loyalty for programs that young families may want to follow when they leave the parking lot, and it ties those programs not just to the families, but even to alma mater as well. It is a great way to engage in and around the game day experience and have a little leave-behind afterwards as well. What else could be added in down the road? Celebrity drop-ins, live activation programs around the shows for families who had engaged during the tailgates, and of course lots and lots of video and good clean fun. It makes great sense for HISTORY, and helps build another tradition around college football for those with disposable income and some time to slide along on a Saturday, especially when some millenials may be heading back to the dorm at halftime.

Nice brand extension for the channel, and a smart use of new resources for the schools.

As The NFL Reels From Dark Days, Five Who Do It Right…

It has been a tough few weeks for the NFL, with the devastating video in the saga of former Rutgers standout Ray Rice leading the way. We felt it appropriate to take a look at five local current or former players doing it right, something which doesn’t always get top billing but which is noteworthy nonetheless: Here is a looka t some solid brand and community work by those who call the area home.

Steve Weatherford, Giants: In 2013, Weatherford was named Health and Fitness Ambassador of the Boys and Girls Club in New Jersey, serving as a role model, mentor, and fitness and nutrition coach to more than 80,000 kids throughout NJ. He was named “head coach” for Wellness in the Schools, leading the charge and acting as spokesperson for that organization’s recess fitness program for more than 77,000 students throughout the NY metro area. In 2013, Steve was recognized for his outstanding community service by the NY Giants organization with the coveted Wellington Mara Award.

The Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Foundation: Created in 1996 in honor of Jay McGillis. Jay was a special young man who developed leukemia while a member of Coach Coughlin’s team at Boston College. In the eight months between Jay’s diagnosis and the day he lost his battle with cancer, the Coughlin family saw first-hand the physical, emotional and financial strains the illness caused the McGillis family. After going through the tragic events with Jay’s family, Coach Coughlin vowed that if he ever had the chance, he would create a way to help families with children battling cancer. Coach Coughlin kept his vow and started a foundation to BE THERE in Jay’s honor. Since then the TC Jay Fund has evolved in size and scope, helping thousands of families in Northeast Florida and the New York/ New Jersey Metropolitan Area who are fighting childhood cancer.

David Nelson, Jets: The wide out for Gang Green has spent countless hours in the offseason raising money and planning visits to help the children of Haiti. After seeing the devastation of the earthquake, Nelson has made it his offseason life to help the children of the Island nation, even renting a home there with his brother Patrick, who lives there full time and takes care of five children. The two are helping to build a school for 250 children, and they are also partnering with former Jets kicker Jay Feely in constructing a $2.1-million sports complex on the Island.

The Marty Lyons Foundation: The popular former Jet now announcer started his foundation in 1982 to fulfill the special wishes of children chronologically aged three (3) and seventeen (17) years old, who have been diagnosed as having a terminal or life threatening illness by providing and arranging special wish requests. The Foundation has 10 Chapters granting wishes in 13 states – Alabama, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia. The Second Wish Program is to grant wishes to children who have received a first wish 24 months prior and have exhausted all medical options and are essentially at end-of-life stage or receiving palliative care. With over 6,500 wishes granted in over 30 years, The Marty Lyons Foundation is dedicated in making more dreams come true.

George Martin and The Journey For 9/11: The NY Giants legend and his work to raise awareness for those in and around Ground Zero is no less poignant today, as his book was released recently as well. From Sept. 16, 2007, to June 21, 2008, retired Super Bowl champion put his life on hold to walk from the George Washington Bridge in NYC to the Pacific Ocean in San Diego. His Journey brought him through 13 states and Washington, DC, 3,003 miles and 5 million steps, to raise money for and awareness of the plight of thousands of seriously ill Ground Zero rescue and recovery workers. In his view, they were underserved by the U.S. government, insurance companies, and healthcare plans… so the NFL legend walked.

Martin, former president of both the NFL Players Association and the NFL Alumni Association, is likely the first pro athlete to conduct a solo charity walk across the U.S. and probably the first African-American to do so. He finished his Journey 41 lbs. lighter — but with millions of dollars raised! The book is filled with magical moments: stunning vistas; moving visits to schools, firehouses, hospitals, memorials and historic sites; babies kissed and elderly hugged; the tears of ailing first responders; the food, culture and music of America. With captivating words and dramatic pictures, readers will experience America from coast-to-coast, through the eyes of this mountain of a man.

The Audio Wars Kick Off…

Last year Beats By Dre turned the corner during the NFL Playoffs with a combination of strategic placement and a little bit of luck. Their two big rolls of the dice came with the Seahawks Richard Sherman and the 49ers Colin Kaepernick, both of whom took their games to the next level as the headset of choice skyrocketed through a grassroots campaign that went through the London Olympics a few years before and made sure they touched on every rising star in sports and popular culture. If you were in the limelight, Beats By Dre found their way to you, and that awareness went even more to mainstream when their breakthrough stars really exploded during the playoffs. The next jump came just a few months after the Seahawks Super Bowl, when Apple stepped to the table to buy out the company and bring it into the fold, making the sound systems even more mainstream, albeit still with an urban edge.

This fall as the NFL season kicks off, the gold standard for many years in consumer listening made their own push to get some street cred and establish their top of mind position with consumers. Bose, signed on as an official NFL partner, not only draping every coaches headset with their logo during every game, but going out to sign some marquee names to endorsements as well to combat Beats infiltration into the market. Richard Sherman’s edgy spots now have to battle Russell Wilson wearing noise cancelling devices, and Kapernick’s tune out of fans is balanced by promotions with Clay Matthews of the Packers. Factor in the use of the NFL shield and other official marks, as well as that constant sideline presence, and Bose seems to have found a way to combat the grassroots efforts with a big spend.

Now this is not to say that beats is going away. Johnny Manziel on his own sported beats Headphones this past Sunday, and countless other milennials and the players they follow in Madden and on their fantasy teams are part of the Beats legion of followers, preferring day-glo and unique styles to Bose’s conservative and always effective style.  Critics will line up on both sides for high end audio pluses and minuses, and consumers will to, depending on taste and frankly, the need to buy or not buy large headphones and other products when ear buds and other simpler lower end items exist. However for the audio and listening marketplace, the need for not just quality sound, but cool and hip aspirational wear will never go away. Will either achieve a crossover spot? Will baby Boomers flock to beats or young folks to the high fidelity of Bose? That remains to be seen, but both, in their own calculating fashion, have looked to athletes and specifically football this fall to drive the ship.

Can Bose score in hip and cool? Can “Beats” keep the beat going in the space? Remains to be seen, but it’s clear that a category battle is now fully underway. Who will win? Some say the limited market can support both and even some other sin the space since headphones of that nature are not and everyday purchase. However the issue is more in incremental marketplace exposure, a place where Beats By Dre clearly had been winning a battle for some time. Now it appears Bose is making more noise, riding a constant flow of exposure and the NFL as a partner. Maybe in the end the consumer wins, but for now the battle is getting louder with two mega-players looking to ride a soundwave of success.

Football And Finance…

With the NFL season here, Tanner Simkins spent some time talking the finance side of football with two industry leaders, Brian Friedman Chief Financial Officer, New York Jets and Adam Raiken Vice President Finance, MetLife Stadium.

Full Cout Press: For those looking to get into sport finance – What experiences fundamentally drove your careers?

Brian Friedman: For the most part it is typical finance and accounting experience. I have a broad range of experience mostly in the consumer product area but also in the services industry. I had always had a goal of getting into sports so when the opportunity presented itself I was very interested and it worked out.

Adam Raiken: My background is a little funky. I started college as chemical engineering major; I always wanted to go in business after and figured a technical background would be interesting and helpful. But I hated engineering so I figured why not just study business, so I specialized in accounting. I always loved sports and then landed a job with PWC, and [naturally] I found myself auditing the NBA, NFL, and baseball. When you are working on audits in sports teams the natural progression is to then work for a team. Who knows more about their company than auditors do? You are looking from at their financial statements top down, therefore it is typical for a finance department to call their auditors when looking for new hires. The Yankees called one day, I was recommended for the job – then I was working for the Yankees. Now, six years later, I am here at MetLife.

FCP: What has been the biggest challenge thus far as in your role? How have you overcome it?

BF: The biggest challenge for me was learning a new industry. I feel like I am still learning every day. Ultimately though all businesses operate in a similar manner. You generate revenue, you collect cash and you pay people and your bills. At the end of the day the first part better be larger than the last. As long as you stay focused on that, it is easy to overcome the challenges of a new industry.

AR: I think my biggest challenge here is working with two different organizations run this one. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad thing, in fact I welcome the challenge. But the two teams have occasionally had different philosophies on things and bringing them together to one entity, to one stadium, is tough. The only way to overcome something like that is constant communication between both teams and all those involved.

FCP: Favorite part of your job?

BF: Easy. It is Sundays, specifically, Sundays when we play at home. I really enjoy being a part of something that tens of thousands of people feel so passionate about.

AR: I got a lot of favorite parts. I love my job, I really do. I love the interactions with people, everyone from those with us full-time, to game-day staff, and to part time employees. I love the game day and seeing what the fan is interested in. If I had to pick one favorite part, it would be the fan experience. There’s so much going on at a stadium like ours. I love that.

 FCP: Financially, how hard is it operating in a two-team stadium?

BF: It sometimes requires a bit more discussion but overall the benefits far outweigh any additional complexities.

AR: Honestly, it is no different than running a one-team stadium except there’s more people with more input. As long as you are doing everything you can for your fans and for the building, I would argue it’s not much different than running a single team stadium. Look at it this way, we still have to take the garbage out, we still have to turn the lights on, we still have to repair the building, etc. The difference comes down to capital budgeting projects where the Jets feel one way and the Giants may feel another

FCP: For many reasons there has been a lot of talks on either side…will the Super Bowl at MetLife be a success?

BF: Yes, it will be great.

AR: Were not going to let it fail. As the first open air cold weather stadium. If we have so many eyes on us and willing to help us because our success will open the doors for many other cities to have a subsequent Super Bowl. It’s going to work. What’s the worst that going to happen, it will snows and then we will move it next year?

FCP: What are some industry trends or developments that you are closely following?

BF: The sports landscape is changing. A continual improvement to the home experience continues to challenge all of us to produce more creative fan experiences beyond the game. Fans expect more than just admission to a game they expect to be entertained and have a great game to watch. I am also following the growth and expansion of the secondary market. Teams are no longer the only ones selling access; there is significant competition to sell that access.

AR: Buying and selling stock in athletes. It’s a neat trend, both good and bad; it has the potential to seriously change a lot of things.

FCP: What’s your favorite book, sports related or otherwise?

BF: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni

AR: The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff

FCP: Any tips for aspiring sports professionals who may be reading this?

BF: Make sure you enjoy the job not just that it is in sports. It is important to enjoy what you are doing not just enjoy working for a sports entity.

AR: A lot of people think working hard is the most important thing and you do have to work hard. But in my opinion, it’s more important to work smart. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Not knowing doesn’t make you look bad.

Brian Friedman is the Chief Financial Officer of the New York Jets. He is responsible for all strategic and financial planning for the Jets, daily accounting operations for the team, and all internal and external reporting to the NFL and various other agencies.

Adam Raiken is Vice President Finance, MetLife Stadium.  Amidst many responsibilities, Raiken supervises financial operations for stadium and serves as an integral member of the senior management team

 

Twitter Me This, NFL

While only one aspect of the full digital picture, Twitter continues to be one of the best tools to look at engagement. So as the NFL season starts, Old Forge Media, took a look at their formula on how NFL teams stack up in the twitter verse. Their Old Forge Quality & Competence Rating (OFQCR) System  Management looked at issues like second-degree follower circles, follower-quality, follower-churn, tweet performance and many other other variables which are integral to observing Twitter performance.

Their belief is that because they  are not looking at the right metrics, most companies, athletes, celebrities and teams are only beginning to scratch the surface of their potential on Twitter. Here’s a look at NFL top to bottom on their Twitter-only engagement. You can find out more @OldForgeMedia 

#1 – @49ers QCScore = 23.1

#2 – @steelers QCScore = 21.7

#3 – @Patriots QCScore = 20.9

#4 – @Broncos QCScore = 19.9

#5 – @Seahawks QCScore = 17.9

#6 – @HoustonTexans QCScore = 15.6

#7 – @Browns QCScore = 15.3

#8 – @Giants QCScore = 12.9

#9 – @Colts QCScore = 12.8

#10 – @packers QCScore = 11.8

#11 – @Saints QCScore = 11.1

#12 – @RAIDERS QCScore = 10.8

#13 – @Vikings QCScore = 10.5

#14 – @AZCardinals QCScore = 10.5

#15 – @ChicagoBears QCScore = 10.2

#16 – @Ravens QCScore = 9.8

#17 – @Redskins QCScore = 9.6

#18 – @Jaguars QCScore = 9.4

#19 – @PanthersQCScore = 9.2

#20 – @MiamiDolphins QCScore = 8.9

#21 – @Eagles QCScore = 8.6

#22 – @Atlanta_Falcons QCScore = 8.6

#23 – @Chargers QCScore = 8.2

#24 – @KCChiefs QCScore = 7.4

#25 – @dallascowboys QCScore = 7.2

#26 – @Bengals QCScore = 6.8

#27 – @Lions QCScore = 6.7

#28 – @buffalobills QCScore = 6.7

#29 – @TennesseeTitans QCScore = 6.5

#30 – @TBBuccaneers QCScore = 6.0

#31 – @STLouisRams QCScore = 5.1

#32 – @nyjets QCScore = 3.4

@NFL has a QCScore of 33.7

To date the highest QCScore calculated is 80.1

“Football Passport” A Great Digital Addition As The Season Kicks Off…

Last spring our colleague Peter Casey launched an ambitious online tool where baseball fans could create a mosaic of all the great places they had seen games, and marry those events to a narrative that matched any fans passion for baseball. It followed a similar launch last winter for basketball fans. It was called “Hardball  Passport,” a first of its kind way to catalogue and track all the stadia where games have been played. No need for ticket stubs saved, “Hardball Passport” helped you bring back the memories in a virtual world just like “Basketball Passport” had done for hoops fans not just on the NBA level but on the college level as well.

This past week, as the NFL and college seasons began, Casey and his partners unveiled their latest tracking tool, one which might even be a bigger hit that its first two. It is “Football Passport,”  an easy-to-use web tool that lets football fans track every football game they’ve attended over the years.

“Football Passport” allows fans to find and log almost every game they’ve attended with simple search functionality. Leveraging a comprehensive games database that goes back several decades, the tool serves as a repository for game-going memories. Fans can share stories and ticket stubs, and upload photos to complement their game histories. As fans log their games, “Football  Passport” dishes out personalized stats – number of games attended, stadiums seen, best performances witnessed, and each team’s record for games fans personally attended – to compare year over year or even against other fans. “Football Passport” allows future-oriented fans to easily create and track their stadium bucket lists, plan road trips and compete in head-to-head stadium challenges. Fans that complete a stadium challenge or achieve game-specific accomplishments earn unique digital stamps for their Passport. Combined with active leaderboards for “Most Games Logged,” it  creates a friendly culture of competition among avid game goers.

Will it gain more traction than “Basketball Passport”  or “Hardball Passport” have done in season one? Hopefully. Football has less games which makes it easier to catalogue, and college football is all about passion and tribal following. Fantasy football is also massive now, so that can also play into more interest for football than hoops or baseball, both of which are being refined for the next go-round.

From a business perspective, all have a nice upside. Brands can integrate perks into the platform for fans who engage regularly, and the model remains scalable to any sport, with probably soccer coming next. At some point as the platform expands you will also be able to share across sports, and with soccer, hopefully grow internationally. The biggest need however, especially to engage with millennials, is to have mobile capability and instant social media sharing. That still remains as a gap in the process, but one that is closing quickly. The download is easy, the work to be engaged is minimal, and the idea of being able to share memories and experiences is key for engagement. While not yet perfect, Casey’s “passports” are growing in popularity and make a nice addition as football kicks off. A great continue to watch idea for the digital sports space, “Football Passport” is worth the download.

College Kicks Off; Shows True Colors In Cool Promo…

Following William Morris Endeavor’s acquisition of IMG, there’s been talk of collaboration — using WME talent in IMG marketing. A great example of that collaboration came to light this week as college football kicks off.

With 12,000 US retailers supporting the event and promotion in full force, WME client BRAD PAISLEY has signed on as the face of the College Colors Day social media push. You will be seeing pictures and videos of Brad in his West Virginia gear as well as posts for other IMG schools this week. Paisley is also cutting 18 video snippets for schools — giving them a shout out for college colors day.

On his new album, Moonshine in the Trunk (People magazine’s #1 pick this week), in the song “Country Nation,” Brad gives a shout-out to 16 school mascots represented by IMG college licensing. Of course, as a passionate college football fan, Brad leads with his beloved Mountaineers.

College Colors Day has become one of the largest annual retail marketing platforms for college football, creating not only fan excitement for the kickoff of a new college football season, but also additional distribution and exposure for school gear in over 12,000 retail locations nationwide.   Retail highlights include a special college section at Walmart called “Saturday’s Best” running in 500 stores all thru September.; 962 doors at JC Penny, 492 doors at Kohl’s, 457 doors at Sam’s, 204 doors at Meijer, 162 doors at Target, 204 doors at Academy (all stores).

It’s a smart example of convergence and showing how properties can work together to amplify a platform.

Smart Like A Fox…

With the NFL season on the horizon, Tanner Simkins caught up with recent NFLPA President and current Harvard MBA President Domonique Foxworth to talk about the league and where he is today in Cambridge…

Domonique Foxworth, former NFL cornerback and NFLPA President, is now an MBA candidate at Harvard Business School. Recently, we caught up with Foxworth for a discussion on his NFLPA Presidency, his MBA progress at HBS, and more. (A detailed biography for Foxworth is provided after the Q&A). You can connect with Foxworth on Twitter.

Full Court Press: You helped shape the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, what was the biggest lesson you learned from that process?

Domonique Foxworth: I found myself in a room full of billionaires. Before the negotiations started, I had this impression that everyone in the room was out-of-this-world smart. After the first couple meetings, I realized that I am just as smart and just as capable as they are. This experience motivated me to attend business school.

FCP: What inspired you to run for NFLPA President?

DF: It wasn’t a snap decision. It was a process. It was important for me to take a larger role in the [governing] body that I belong to, and to me there was no better way than being President.

FCP: Now you’re getting your MBA. How has the transition into Harvard Business School been going?

DF: It’s been tough but I am no stranger to working very hard. It is definitely a different culture than one I was in before. But I am happy to be a part of it and I feel like I fit in well.

FCP: What’s more difficult playing an NFL season or a HBS semester?

DF: The NFL, hands down. No one is trying to hurt me when I am studying. Competing against a book or competing in the class for comments is much different than competing against super humans who are physically going after me on a weekly or daily basis. At Harvard they are super humans too, with their intelligence. But, everybody can win [in the classroom] and that’s the biggest difference. When there are confrontations here, [at HBS] we can all win – and that’s not how it works in sports.

FCP: What are your post-graduation plans?

DF: I am very interested in entrepreneurship and venture capitalism especially related to something in the sports arena.

FCP: What are some industry trends or developments that you are closely following?

DF: The sports industry is no different than any other. Technology can provide quality improvements. That’s what I am excited about. I’m already working with entrepreneurs and young companies to apply tech to improve the quality of life for athletes.

FCP: What’s your favorite book, sports business or otherwise?

DF: Fox in Socks by Dr. Seuss. Classic! [Foxworth has a toddler and baby at home.]

 FCP: Any tips for aspiring sports professionals who may be reading this?

DF: The major tip I give to anyone who wants to get in sports is: know that your day-to-day job will have very little to do with the actual sport. If you want to get in to sports business because you love the game of football or basketball, you are going to be very disappointed because you’re so far removed from the game. (Unless you are a coach.) Evaluate why you want to be in sports. If you are crazy sports fan, you may be disappointed with the [minimal] access you receive.

Domonique Foxworth, a former NFL cornerback, is a respected leader and in March 2012 was elected by his peers to serve as the NFL Players Association President.

First elected to the NFLPA as a player representative in 2007, he became one of the youngest vice presidents ever to be voted onto the executive committee. Foxworth played a pivotal role in the NFL collective bargaining agreement (CBA) negotiations in 2011 which resulted in: a longer off-season, allowing players time for recovery and academic pursuits; the elimination of two-a-day practices as a health and safety measure—several youth leagues followed suit; a minimum threshold for spending under the salary cap; and the creation of a “Legacy Fund” pension resource for former NFL players, among other things. During his tenure, the union has also instituted several new committees, composed of staff and players, to encourage greater involvement among members; established a unique 10-year $100 million partnership with Harvard Medical School to research new ways to diagnose, treat and prevent injuries and illness affecting football players; and created a lifecycle initiative for members which includes a series of resources and programs to help players excel during and after their NFL career. His current term as NFLPA President runs through 2014.

Foxworth was drafted by the Denver Broncos in 2005, and played in the NFL over seven years for the Broncos, the Atlanta Falcons and his hometown Baltimore Ravens. The Broncos nominated Foxworth for the 2007 Walter Peyton Man of the Year Award for his work in the community which included: serving as spokesperson for “College and Colorado,” a nonprofit devoted to increasing enrollment and improving academic success of low income students; raising money to build a teen center in the name of slain teammate; and penning a weekly column for the Denver Post—the collection was later published as a book with proceeds befitting a Denver nonprofit.

He completed high school in 3.5 years, enrolled early at the University of Maryland, and began training with the school’s football team. Foxworth graduated from Maryland with an B.A. in American Studies in 2004 and was awarded as Maryland Student Athlete of the Year. He will matriculate at Harvard Business School in fall 2013.

A student of the civil right movement, Foxworth collects artifacts and historical treasures from African American history in his spare time.

 

Mixing Sports and Broadway…

Below is the latest q and a by Tanner Simkins, this one with sports marketing legend Tony Ponturo (who I have had the honor to personally work with on four projects in recent years).

We sat down with sports marketing legend, Tony Ponturo, to discuss his role as producing partner for Broadway productions like Bronx Bombers, Lombardi and Magic/Bird and how theater and his longtime career in sports marketing play together. He and producing partner Fran Kirmser also recently acquired the rights to the life story of Joe Louis for film and stage, and have numerous other projects in the pipeline, including bringing Lombardi to the screen in the next few years.

Full Court Press: After a heralded sports business career, how was the transition from marketing executive to Broadway producer?

Tony Ponturo: I graduated with an economics degree but quickly realized that wasn’t for me.  I always wanted something that had both a creative and business dynamic.  I gravitated to sports marketing because it quenched both the creative and business side.  Just like how marketing is the business of sports, producing is very much the business of entertainment.  After building credibility with my sports marketing career, the transition into Broadway was natural.

FCP: Any crossover between the two?

TP: It’s really no different than how we did it at [Anheuser-Busch], but this time it’s a show.  The important question to answer is how to use the mark.  For example with Bronx Bombers, using the Yankee logos, official uniforms, etc added necessary value to the production.  Without this authenticity, consumers can easily see through it and lose interest.

FCP: Any development or trends you are closely watching?

TP: I am intrigued by the growth of fantasy sports.  It has created a new dialogue away from following your local sports team.  Now there is interest and passion at many levels for many reasons.  There will be continued efforts to capture this revenue in new and creative ways.

FCP: Any tips or advice for the aspiring sports professional?

TP: Reputation and trust are big things in business that get overlooked. Always keep those in mind while getting experience. Don’t have a high bar; get in anywhere as along as there is a focused path.  Impatience is the biggest barrier; don’t overlook a sense of direction & foundation.  Good people rise to the top wherever they are.

FCP: What is your favorite book?

TP: I enjoy reading historical biographies like of the Kennedy family for example.  I appreciate these real life stories and their practicality.

Sports and marketing executive Tony Ponturo’s name and reputation have been synonymous with quality, innovation and attention to brand detail for over 30 years. First in the advertising world, then in a landmark career at Anheuser-Busch, Tony Ponturo has been responsible for some of the most influential partnerships that have shaped the sports and entertainment landscape as we know it today.

Following a six year stint in the New York advertising business, Ponturo spent 26 years at Anheuser-Busch in St. Louis, MFCPouri, leading a team that built one of the most iconic sports and event marketing brands in the world. He joined AB in 1991, and until his departure in 2008, served as the President and CEO of Busch Media Group and the Vice President of Global Media, Sports and Entertainment Marketing of Anheuser-Busch Inc. Ponturo managed over $700mm in media, sports and entertainment properties per annum and oversaw broadcast exclusives for the Super Bowl and the FIFA World Cup, as well as multifaceted relationships with the United States and International Olympic Committees. He helped vastly expand Anheuser-Busch’s leadership stake in the sports business, carving official beer sponsorships with Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League, Major League Soccer and NASCAR in North America, as well as landmark international deals with Formula One Racing and the English Premier League in soccer. Anheuser-Busch also increased its position in the local and regional areas of sports sponsorship, securing scores of team and event partnerships during this time as well. Brand growth was also not limited to sports, as the Academy Awards, Grammy Awards and the Golden Globe Awards all became key activation and sponsorship elements of the Anheuser- Busch family. As a member of the Anheuser-Busch Strategy Committee, Ponturo also served on the Board of Directors of both Anheuser-Busch, Inc. and Anheuser-Busch International, Inc, playing an integral role in developing the brand’s successful corporate media and sports structure.

His latest ventures have him balancing his passions in both sports and entertainment. He is a producer of Broadway hits and Tony Award winning shows such as the 2009 revival of “Hair” and the original musical “Memphis,” which opened in the fall of 2009. Along with the creative vision of entrepreneur and Producing Partner Fran Kirmser, together Tony and Fran negotiated the first time ever NFL and NBA marketing partnership deals for Broadway for productions Lombardi and Magic Bird. Both the NFL and the NBA trusted Kirmser Ponturo with their trademarks and provided, in addition to marketing support, an authentication to the creative process.