Red Bull Sponsorship on Lebron James' jersey

One Small Patch of Fabric – A Lot of Weight


Sponsorship is a huge part of the sports business world and a significant portion of most professional franchises’ revenues. Outside the United States, it is commonplace to have the team’s sponsors’ branding on all team apparel, especially game jerseys. For many years, however, US sports have resisted this trend (and resulting revenue) by banning on-jersey sponsorships. This month the NBA approved a three-year pilot program to begin in the 2017-18 season allowing on-jersey advertisements. Long a subject of debate in and around the league, the program was approved 28-2 by the NBA team owners. The 2.5-inch-by-2.5-inch patch will appear on the left shoulder of the player’s jersey opposite the Nike swoosh. The 2017-18 season will also bring the beginning of Nike’s exclusive apparel deal with the NBA, an eight-year deal with an estimated value of over $1B. The NBA logo will remain on the back of the jersey where it was moved two years ago.

Seattle Sounders Jersey featuring sponsorship of Microsoft’s XBOX product

In 2006, Major League Soccer became the first American professional league to allow its teams to sell ad space on-jersey. Shortly thereafter, the WNBA followed suit, also allowing the on-jersey ads. Signs that the four major sports leagues might allow on-jersey ads have been apparent for years: the NFL allowed practice jerseys to be sponsored in 2009 and the NBA put the Kia brand patch, the official automotive partner of the NBA, on the 2016 All-Star Game jerseys. Nonetheless, it remained unclear whether the owners would approve the on-jersey ads for regular season games.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver

Sponsorship is not only a revenue source for teams, but also allows brands to build a deep connection with “their” team. Brands sponsoring a team seek to build an association with the fans between its brand and the team. “Jersey sponsorships provide deeper engagement with partners looking to build a unique association with our teams and the additional investment will help grow the game in exciting ways,” said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. Silver cites the changing media landscape and the fact that “people are watching far less commercials” as the reason why companies need additional opportunities to connect with their consumers. Commissioner Silver projects the pilot program will generate over $100 million for the League. To make the deal more attractive to the League owners in smaller markets, half of the revenue generated from this ad space for each team will be put in the revenue-sharing pool and half will be kept by the team.
However, the reaction has not all been positive as many people are resistant to the break from tradition and the further “commercializing” of American sports. As a compromise, the NBA will not allow merchandise with the new corporate logos to be sold except in official team stores at the team’s discretion. This was also the reason for the relatively small, and some hope inconspicuous, patch.
While most would say I am a traditionalist, as an MBA focusing in sports marketing with a particular interest in sponsorship, I believe the League should have the ability to exercise this option if they so choose. The NBA is a business after all.

Written by Robert Cella

As I transition into sports business industry, I am a current MBA candidate at the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center. I am energized and passionate as I make this career change into sponsorships and corporate partnerships. With experience in small business operations, financial advising and international business, I am well-positioned to succeed in this area upon graduation in 2017.

San Fransisco Experiential Learning 2016

3 snapshots into the Center for Sustainable Business Practices MBA tour to San Francisco

At the end of March, the Oregon MBA offers our spring experiential learning business tour to San Francisco. During the week-long visit students are able to network with companies around the bay area and gain perspective on their industry from a diverse set of professionals. In this post three Center for Sustainable Business Practices students provide a brief glimpse into a few of their favorite visits. Big thanks to the contributing authors.

Green Sport Alliance

By Ben Fields:

While on our experiential learning trip to San Francisco the we had the opportunity to meet with Erik Distler, Senior Resource Specialist with the Green Sport Alliance. We gathered with Erik on a sunny day in Yerba Buena Gardens. He was keen to explore our unique backgrounds and interests related to sustainability, as well as share both his professional background and the personal journey that took him from Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC0 to the nonprofit world.

Erik described how his time in sustainable consulting at PwC gave him the tools to communicate the business arguments for sustainable business practices. His ability to not only present a business case for sustainable practices, but also help PwC’s clients communicate their stories around sustainability, enabled Erik to become an invaluable asset. This storytelling ability is what opened his opportunity with the Green Sports Alliance where he now brings sustainability to the sporting world and beyond through partnerships with ESPN. Erik related how he has seen demand grow and discussed future opportunities as the field continues to develop.

After listening to our stories, Erik described how stories from his journey with sustainable business could help us understand the landscape from a professional view. He provided unique prospective and insight to help us understand how to leverage our experience in the Center for Sustainable Business Practices to find our place in this changing climate of sustainable business. Meeting with Erik allowed us time for introspection about the opportunities in front of us and provided inspiration about what the future may hold.


By Max Fleisher:

On Wednesday morning, March 30th, we braved the impossibly traffic-free 101 to visit with the Sustainability team at Facebook HQ. Our host was Lyrica McTiernan, Sustainability Manager, who was joined by Louisa Smythe McGuirk, Sustainability Analyst. Lyrica has been at Facebook for over 5 years, and has witnessed what she described as a “journey of maturity of understanding of sustainability at Facebook”. Louisa is primarily focused on metrics, measuring how FB is progressing on its sustainability goals. Her first project involved calculating Facebook’s carbon footprint, the 5th time such an assessment had been completed. The primary goal in doing the carbon footprint is identifying the most actionable items for the largest impact. Facebook currently does not do specific reporting like GRI, and the general consensus is the time and energy required is not worthwhile. The scope of carbon reporting is expanding as Facebook moves into consumer technology with their acquisition of Oculus.

Facebook Campus

Facebook Campus

Lyrica and Louisa walked us through their large (and growing) department, highlighting both the breadth and depth of the team, with key focuses of data center design, energy efficiency, and water use. These foci make sense given the sustainability team’s placement within the infrastructure department. Facebook is building a number of new wholly owned data centers, and Lyrica is involved with the design of the facilities to incorporate new technologies like swamp cooling to reduce energy and water use intensity. There is an overall goal at Facebook to reach 50% clean and renewable energy by 2018. Lyrica emphasized that this is only an interim goal, meant to be achievable in a reasonable timeframe. We were left with the tenet: “Sustainability is future proofing.”

Sustainable Accounting Standards Board (SASB)

By Joey Jaraczewski:

On Thursday March 31st, the Oregon MBA had the good fortune to meet with the Sustainable Accounting Standards Board (SASB). SASB seeks to be the sustainable complement to the 10-K annual report by creating the standards by which public entities can measure and report their Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) efforts. Put another way, where FASB standardizes how companies report their financial accounting, SASB standardizes how companies identify and report their sustainability track record. These standards provide information that is decision-useful and complementary to financial accounting information. Put another way, SASB is making an awesome contribution to the stewardship of people, planet, and financial returns.

The CSBP came to SASB at an amazing time. The day before our visit, SASB had released the last of eleven sets of provisional standards to the public, marking the end of a four-year process of creating and tinkering. SASB was proud to show off their Materiality Map which reporters could use to identify what to report. This Materiality Map is important for streamlining standards into the market.

These standards are coming to a receptive marketplace, as there is a clear trend towards more comprehensive reporting of ESG from the public and private sectors. In Europe, the EU is mandating that their member states report on ESG metrics. Meanwhile, in the United States, investors clamor for greater transparency and accuracy of corporate sustainability reporting. There are certainly hurdles ahead of SASB, however, the information that standards are trying to capture is crucial for markets to gain greater long-term efficiency. Indeed, many stakeholders across the value chain are coming to realize the importance of a company’s relationship with the environment and employees.

CSBP visits San Fransisco

The Center for Sustainable Business Practices MBA

The release of the provisional standards also represents an area of opportunity for MBA students through SASB certification in the Fundamentals of Sustainability Accounting (FSA). Achieving FSA Certification would be beneficial training for students that are considering careers in sustainability. Furthermore, holding certification creates a critical edge of expertise in a market clamoring to understand the role of ESG in investing.

Written by Natalie Colvin

Natalie is a 2016 MBA from the Center for Sustainable Business Practices. The experience of living abroad in Costa Rica, instilled in Natalie a passion for improving the world. She hopes to bring this passion to a career in corporate environmental and advocacy campaigns after completing her MBA. Natalie received a dual undergraduate degree in development anthropology and Latin American studies from the University of Arizona honors college where she was also on the equestrian team.

NVC Portland 2016

New Venture Championship from Behind the Scenes

This past weekend I had the honor of being a moderator at the New Venture Championship (NVC) in Portland which is an international entrepreneurial investment competition presented annually by the University of Oregon’s Lundquist College of Business. The 16 selected student teams from around the world pitched their business plans to a panel of judges, gained valuable feedback, and had the chance to win over $60,000 in cash prizes.

Day 1duck

The first session teams practiced their 60 second elevator pitches and received feedback from the judges. The second portion consisted of 30 minute presentations during which a judge could interrupt at any time. Judges challenged teams to defend their plans and their ability to move a pitch along, simulating a meeting at a busy VC firm. The first day was not scored, however, timing was critical because it was my job as moderator to stop them at exactly 30 minutes – no exceptions. Teams were meant to take the judges’ feedback from Day 1 to prepare for Day 2.

That evening, the teams competed in a tradeshow and elevator pitch competition. Not only was this a great opportunity to network with students, judges, and guests, but it was a chance to learn how to effectively talk about a business idea (and to get an unexpected photo-op with the Duck).

Day 2

The second day we welcomed a new set of judges for the semi-finals which consisted of the same format as the previous day, but this time the judges scored the presentations and selected teams to advance to the final round. After the pitches, all teams, judges, and moderators met in the ballroom to enjoy an amazing lunch and keynote panel of successful female entrepreneurs.

The panel was a chance to hear real business women discuss the grueling process of heading up a start-up, how they continuously pivoted, and what they have learned. As a previous NVC competitor, UO alum and Red Duck co-founder, Shannon Oliver gave input on the competition, stating “you can’t do well in this competition if you don’t know what you’re talking about, and in order to know what you’re talking about you have to have done your research”. This was spot on. The most successful teams were the ones that could authentically talk about their business and motives behind their venture, and convince the judges that they were knowledgeable about the industry.  After the lunch and judging deliberations, all participants, judges, and organizers took time to relax and mingle at the Portland Bowling Mixer where students showed off their bowling and gaming skills!


VivImmune from the University of Arkansas presenting to the judges during the finals round.

Day 3

The final day of the competition was an amazing learning experience. All moderators took on the roles of “shadow judges”. We watched the final presentations, critiqued each pitch as a group, and gave final recommendations to the judges. After providing feedback, we got to sit in on judges’ deliberations, and were proud when our rankings matched. As someone who wants to work with start-ups and may participate in this competition next year, the opportunity to hear the judges’ questions for the teams and rationale behind final decisions was an irreplaceable educational experience.

The winners were announced at the Awards Reception where we got to end the weekend on a high-note – the TougHer team from the UO won second place and took home $10,000!  Congrats!


Thinking of participating in NVC in the future? Here are some quick tips: 

  1. Be passionate.It’s not enough just to have a polished presentation. The most successful and convincing teams were the ones that were the most authentic and presented from the heart.
  2. Get your financials in order.When a judge doubts one number, they begin to doubt them all. Then they begin to question your credibility. Not sure about your numbers? Go the conservative route, but be able to explain your reasoning.
  3. Be prepared to be interrupted. A real pitch is a dynamic conversation. Come ready to answer any question about your business plan and anticipate judges’ concerns. Including answers to these concerns in your appendix will also help you maintain your cool during the Q&A.
  4. Network.This competition is rich with knowledgeable students, judges, and business people – use this opportunity to your advantage. And don’t forget to have fun!


    The Oregon MBA TougHer Team

  5. Be there to learn.We get it – this idea is your baby. However, if you’re open to critique and look for the learning opportunity in every situation, you are more likely to pivot in a direction that will lead to success.

Written by Kathryn Butera

Kathryn is originally from the Bay Area and is currently a first year MBA student in the Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship.

Lillis Business Complex

Success at NVC and beyond

As many of you may have already heard, our very own TougHER (Stacey Edwards, Brawnson Adams, and Justin LaTempa) took second place at our New Venture Championship this past weekend. In addition to the $10k prize, I know the team gathered great feedback and ideas from the judges and found inspiration in the response to their opportunity.

Kate Blazar, leader of team Animosa helped us make the event great for our guests in her role as LCE GTF, helping all weekend and spearheading our annual team social/bowling event. Both TougHER and Animosa are continuing forward towards making their dreams real through our Venture Startup class and other Oregon MBA courses.

It takes a whole program to help these ideas launch and the Lundquist College of Business is proving to be a great place for MBAs to incubate their ideas. That shows with the success of our graduates. Here are some of our highlights-Red Duck Ketchup

  • Red Duck Foods has launched a line of BBQ sauces and is expanding in the Northeast US soon. They are adding stores, raising money, and having fun. Co-founder Shannon Oliver was on our panel at NVC and it was amazing to see how mature and wise the team has gotten as they’ve built a great company.
  • Cowbucker continues to share the ‘Bucker’ with more of the world! That team is adding schools for licensed products and launching new designs to keep their business growing. Stop by 222 E 11th and visit their local storefront to see what’s new.
  • AirFit is now Roam Fitness – With a prototype gym in Bend, and the first location at JFK moving forward, Ty and Cynthia are making great progress towards making us all happier and healthier travelers.

Picky Bars on the shelves of Trader JoesAnd in other news… Oregon MBA Alum extraordinaire Jesse Thomas has recently made a big announcement about his company Picky Bars. Spoiler: Look for them in your local Trader Joe’s!!!

So what’s the theme here? I’d say that the Oregon MBA attracts and encourages independent thinkers with the passion and commitment to make their dreams reality. Our programs and classes, in all subjects, push students to think bigger and be disciplined in applying what they’ve learned in class. Our community of alumni, mentors, and others provides the foundation for testing business models, building connections to industries, and growing a supportive network that helps in unexpected ways.

It’s an honor to watch ideas become reality. The same set of immense challenges face all entrepreneurs. The knowledge, skills, and learning environment that we provide here helps our students gain an advantage and go forth to build great companies. We should all be proud of our startup Ducks!

Written by Nathan Lillegard

I run the programs and activities for the Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship. My experience includes enterprise software development and implementations and operational process improvement. I started a biotech company called Floragenex, got it off the ground, secured investors and customers, and left it in the capable hands of a great team.


Warsaw by the Bay: 2016 Edition

Warsaw by the Bay

Sunrise over the Bay Bridge before the start of Day 1.

Last week, the Oregon MBA headed south down I-5 to San Francisco and the surrounding Bay Area for an experiential learning week visiting companies in our respective industries of interest. The Warsaw Center had an incredible lineup of companies beginning Monday morning and ending Friday afternoon. With 12 company meetings and a networking event in San Francisco and the surrounding Bay Area in a span of 5 days, the trip was a whirlwind, but it was one of the most incredible experiences I have had in my professional career thus far. I will only touch on a few of our company visits, but you can check out our whole itinerary in the graphic below:


My experience in Warsaw this year has been eye-opening. Before coming into the program, I was unaware of the breadth of directions one can choose to take in the sports business industry. Our Bay Area Trip touched on every one of those areas of opportunity. The companies that we visited revolved around a diverse set of products and services including: agency services, consumer packaged goods, apparel, equipment, professional teams, e-sports/gaming, social media/technology, and sponsorship.

What was striking to me, was that despite their differences, the companies that we visited were actually narrowing their focus onto the same issue: how can we understand our customer better? It seems too obvious, right? If you are trying to sell your product or service to a customer, you should know who they are. But in this digital age where purchases are being made across screens instead of face-to-face, that process has become increasingly complex and difficult to execute. Companies are now looking for ways to understand both what consumers want and why they want it.


Our hosts at Clif Bar spoke about driving trial of their product at points of need. This is a simple concept, but one that really struck me as profound. For a brand as successful as Clif Bar, #1 in their category and a recognizable brand to both elite athletes and the general consumer, this tenant leads them to continue strong grassroots marketing efforts at events. This gives Clif Bar a chance to connect with their target customers in person, who otherwise might be buying Clif Bars anonymously off of grocery store shelves to stock up for their training or their next race. Ultimately, Clif Bar is meeting their customers at the “why” of their purchase by staying present at the races, meets, etc. where consumers will need their product.

The concept of understanding the consumers’ needs came up again at EA when we heard from Zach Anderson, VP of Marketing Science & Analytics. Anderson talked about consumers (or “players” in EA speak) being like diamonds; they have many facets to their lives. If EA wants to satisfy their players through their gaming platforms, then it is important to obtain as holistic a picture as possible of who is playing their games. EA dives deeply into the exploration of what players are doing and what kind of decisions they are making in order to determine the “why” behind player behavior. Ultimately, this effort provides deep insights into who EA’s players are and what motivates their actions, which helps EA improve its bottom line and continue to cultivate a meaningful experience for their players moving forward.


Both North Face and Marmot appear to be in stages of gradual shifts within their marketing, as the outdoor apparel industry continues to try to define its broad reaching culture and customer. Today, Patagonia, Columbia and North Face are everywhere on college campuses (think Better Sweaters, Denali jackets and Jester backpacks) as well as on the rock faces and hiking trails. Living a healthy and active lifestyle is trending, which is great for these companies, but it is also a challenge to determine how they should be communicating their brand to a customer base using their products for a very wide range of purposes. The competitors actually seemed to be on the same page, as they talked about a change in their brand communications from core aspirational to more relatable and accessible. This transition is best exhibited in the evolution of Marmot’s ads over the past several years: Check out the “Momentum” spot from 2013, followed by their 2015 commercial and their most recent Marmot super bowl commercial. Their most recent campaign is targeted at the “evolved consumer”, called “Fall in Love with the Outside”. The brand is focusing less on the fact that their jackets can reach the top of Mt. Everest (which they can and have!) and more on the fact that anyone can enjoy the outdoors at any skill or interest level.


We were also very fortunate to tour 4 stadiums home to 4 different sports in the Bay Area: Levi’s Stadium, home of the 49ers, the SAP Center, home of the San Jose Sharks, Avaya Stadium, home of the San Jose Earthquakes, and the Golden 1 Center the future home of the Sacramento Kings currently under construction (see hard hat group photo below!). From the newest stadium being built by the Kings to the more lived in SAP Center, each of the organizations were creating innovations to drive increased engagement among their customers in a world where less people are willing to get off the couch to go to a game. The Avaya Stadium is home to the largest outdoor bar in the United States, which sits at one end of the field and looks like a very relaxing, enjoyable way to watch a soccer game. There was an enormous amount of technology that went into Levi’s Stadium, including beacon technology which can communicate with fans during a game about where the short concession lines are or remind them of their seat location. Levi’s Stadium also includes an outer ring for getting around the stadium apart from the hallway that contains the concessions. Have you ever tried meeting a friend on the other side of a stadium during halftime? It’s nearly impossible to dodge the crowds and get to where you want to go. Levi’s came up with a great solution to that customer need. The Golden 1 Center, in Sacramento, has been heavily informed by consumer insights through focus groups and surveys and will be a state of the art stadium and entertainment hub beginning next year.

IMG_2145 IMG_4468

Overall, our trip to the Bay Area highlighted the fact that companies are quickly trying to adapt in order to maintain touch points, relationships, and relevancy with their customers as the digital world continues to evolve consumer behavior. It was fascinating to see how this overarching initiative spanned the industry in a variety of forms.

Thank you to Craig Leon for coordinating a great lineup of visits and to our gracious hosts at Clif Bar, Twitter, Visa, IMG, GMR, VF Corporation, EA, the Sharks, the 49ers, the Earthquakes, Marmot, and the Kings for opening your doors to our program.


Written by Lauren Sokol

Lauren, Warsaw Sports Marketing Center ('17), comes to the Oregon MBA after spending three years coaching Division III Women's Lacrosse in the northeast.