SMBA Takes On Chicago for Brand Activation Summit

There’s no denying that the Sports Business Journal has become a staple in the sports industry, for both aspiring professionals and also for industry executives. This past week, Sean Bell and Cole Cook (SMBA ‘17) made the cross country flight to Chicago to again join the SBJ events intern team at their 5th Annual Intersport Brand Engagement Summit. This summit brought together many of today’s most forward-thinking sports marketers to examine the key elements of sports sponsorships and execution.

From discussing partnership activation strategies, to hosting roundtables on how to create buzzworthy, socially shareable events, this SBJ conference proved to be a home run for anyone interested in the branding and sponsorship activation realms. Attendees included vice presidents and directors of marketing and sponsorship, team and league executives, agency executives, and yes, your very own San Diego State Sports MBA Candidates.SBJ Engage

Some key takeaways from the conference:

  • In Partnerships, Sometimes Less Is More: Chicago Cubs Owner Tom Ricketts hosted conference attendees at Wrigley Field, where he shared insight into the Cubs’ sponsorship revenue strategy. His strategy focuses on paring down the number of partners, and focusing on making better deals and signing bigger sponsors to offset the fact that there are fewer of them. “If you have too many partners, not only do you not service them as well as you’d like to service them, but they don’t feel the ties or commitment to the team.”
  • Coming This Fall: A Ninja Turtles-Sponsored NASCAR Race: Chicagoland Speedway and Nickelodeon have teamed up to create the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 on September 18th. “There’s just no shortage of activation opportunity with something like this,” said Nickelodeon Senior VP/Sports Marketing & Development Anthony DiCosmo. See video below:
  • Inspiration and Educational Fuel Gatorade’s Branding: Gatorade Senior Director of Consumer Engagement Kenny Mitchell describes the company’s engagement efforts as inspirational (showing brand equity) and educational (product work). As an example, he showed Gatorade’s recent tribute to Peyton Manning, featuring his history of hand-writing notes to people close to him. “That spot still gives me goose-bumps, and part of our standard for inspirational work is that it gives you goosebumps,” said Mitchell. Video below:
  • Engaging Consumers via Social Media: Creating real-time content along with capitalizing on moments that matter while remaining authentic were the main takeaways from the social media (#SMSports) discussion.
    • NASCAR’s Director of Social Media spoke about the success of the #Hashtag500 where fans had the opportunity to win swag from the race whether it be car hoods, driver helmets, and even parts from crashes during the race. NASCAR saw 13,000 tweets in one minute during the Daytona 500, crushing previous records of engagement on their social channels.

    • John Hancock’s Director of Sponsorship discussed how they take a huge campaign and allow individuals to be a part of it. Allowing runners to be a part of the conversation then mailing them their large banners after the event creates lifelong memories with the brand.

One of the coolest moments from the conference was the opportunity to stand in the outfield of Wrigley Field. Prior to taking the field, Cubs owner Tom Ricketts talked about the ballpark’s $500 million renovation, saying how he “wanted walking up to Wrigley to be like when you’re walking up to a famous castle or palace or fountain in Europe. It’s beautiful, and it’s lit just right, and you see people just being around it because being around it is an end in and of itself. …. You’ll be able to feel like you’re a part of history and just be in a beautiful place.” We’d say that was definitely the feeling as we stood in the outfield looking towards home plate. Thanks for having us, Tom.

We’d like to thank Sports Business Journal and their entire conference and events staff for their continued support by offering students the opportunity to be part of their events operations team, and to rub elbows with some of the sport industry’s best and brightest professionals.

Post Written By: Sean Bell and Cole Cook

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