Editor’s Note: This post is the third in a series of entries chronicling a recent study tour by first-year MBA’s from the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center, who spent the first week of spring term visiting the offices of nine major sports properties in San Francisco. The San Francisco study tour is an annual Warsaw Center trip that exposes students to a variety of sports agencies, teams, corporations and product companies in the Bay Area, providing excellent opportunities for experiential learning and networking.
Despite arriving back to the hotel late the previous night, we were up and at ‘em bright and early on Thursday morning as we headed off to the Visa International headquarters in San Mateo. We were welcomed by University of Oregon alumnus Kara Linse, Manager of FIFA Global Sponsorship Marketing at Visa. After receiving our name tags, we headed up to a large conference room to meet some of her colleagues.
Marketing manager Aaron Hoffman led things off with a presentation on Visa’s “Make it Epic” NFL marketing campaign. He explained the campaign’s focus on social media, offering fans opportunities to participate in contests that allowed the winners to take part in unique events, such as sitting in on a 49ers pre-game speech or interviewing Baltimore Ravens’ star Ray Lewis, to engage the league’s consumers.
Hoffman was followed up by Zaileen Janmohamed, a business leader in Special Projects and Global Sponsorship Management. She discussed Visa’s Olympic Athlete Program, which she oversees, emphasizing the ways in which the company develops its athlete strategy and carries out recruitment, and then integrates its athletes into Visa’s Olympic activation and marketing campaigns.
Kara then took over to tell us about Visa’s global sponsorships with FIFA and SUM (Soccer United Marketing) and how Visa plans to increase their activations to more countries. For the 2014 World Cup, Visa enjoys exclusive payment rights, and they are taking the essence of Brazil to other markets through commercials and promotions.
To wrap things up, we had the pleasure of sitting in on a panel comprised of Jamie Hamann, Coley Holnback, and Barrie Howard, all of whom were on the ground in London for last summer’s Olympics. They told us about their experiences in various aspects of sponsorship activation, operations logistics, and customer service, which provided us with insight about what goes on at one of the largest sports events in the world.
After driving back up to San Francisco and grabbing lunch on our own, we met up at the offices of Fleishman-Hillard, one of the most successful Public Relations and Communications firms in the world. We were welcomed by Abbey Breshears, a senior account executive, and joined by Mitch Germann, the Senior Vice-President of the agency, and Matt Faust, an account supervisor.
They proceeded to give us a phenomenal presentation based around on-site activation case studies, describing how they used science as proof of the product’s benefits for Gatorade at the Super Bowl, activated Visa’s NFL sponsorship through fan offers, and used a fan cover vote to partner EA Sports with ESPN for the new Madden video game to sustain conversation of the product year-round, among others. We finished up our visit with a round of Q&A, and were left with a final nugget from the trio, as they all highlighted that the main challenge for a brand in using social media is to maintain the same brand voice throughout the process, and that keeping that single voice is crucial to the success of marketing a brand.
Our new friends from Fleishman-Hillard then acted as gracious hosts by treating us to a networking hour where we were able to relax and further pick the brains of the PR agency’s executives, a great way to wrap up our third day!
Editor’s Note: This post is the first in a series of entries chronicling a recent study tour by first-year MBA’s from the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center, who spent the first week of spring term visiting the offices of nine major sports properties in San Francisco. The San Francisco study tour is an annual Warsaw Center trip that exposes students to a variety of sports agencies, teams, corporations and product companies in the Bay Area, providing excellent opportunities for experiential learning and networking.
Last Tuesday, April 2nd, marked the official start of the 2013 Warsaw Sports Marketing Center San Francisco study tour. After six months of anticipation, we were thrilled to finally embark on our first of three study tours offered through the center. The night before, the class had convened in San Francisco after traveling from various spring break locations and several of us split off to attend either the Oakland A’s Opening Day game or the San Jose Sharks vs. Vancouver Canucks hockey game.
On Tuesday, we started “bright and early” with a visit to Pac-12 Enterprises. We were hosted by Araceli Ortiz, Manager of University Digital Properties. Araceli began the meeting by giving a brief presentation of the chronology of Pac-12 Networks, which officially launched last August offering 24/7 Pac-12 sports programming. Following Araceli’s presentation, we enjoyed a Q&A session with a staff panel made up of Directors of Programming Dustin Rocke and Ky Bell, as well as Director of Marketing Research Natasha DeRivi. Some of the primary discussion points involved opportunities for the Pac-12 Networks to improve brand positioning of the conference, increase exposure for women’s and Olympic sports and highlight academic accomplishments of member institutions. Natasha also gave a thorough explanation of some of the market research that was conducted to determine demographics and consumer behavior for the fan base of each Pac-12 university.
After the Q&A session, Araceli led us on a tour of the facility. On the tour, we made stops in the master control room, production control room, changing room and studio floor. It was incredible to learn that the entire facility had been constructed from February-August 2012, in order to be ready for football season. Check out a few pics from the studio tour below:
After our visit at Pac-12 Enterprises, we took a quick lunch break then headed to an afternoon appointment at GMR Marketing, an international event marketing agency. At GMR, we were hosted by Kelsey Philpott, a 2011 Oregon MBA graduate from the Warsaw Center, who is now an account executive at the agency. GMR specializes in “engagement marketing”, which involves developing and operating events that help brands connect with consumers by leveraging consumers’ interest in sports and entertainment. Kelsey and GMR Marketing EVP & Chief Strategic Officer Dave Rosenberg gave an engaging presentation discussing some of the core elements of sponsorship development, activation and evaluation.
Along with this discussion, Dave and Kelsey also presented case studies of some of the impressive projects the agency had completed in recent years. My favorite was an incredible activation event GMR coordinated along with EA Sports and ESPN to promote the launch of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2010. The companies staged a 3 hole match between Tiger Woods and late night TV personality Jimmy Fallon on the Wii version of the popular game in the center of Times Square in New York City. The match was commentated live by ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt. In total, the event produced 3,000 live viewers, 98 articles and blog posts recapping the star-studded match up and a total of 35 million consumer impressions.
To wrap up Day 1, Paul Swangard (WSMC Managing Director) hosted an alumni reception at Palimino Restaurant. About 15-20 Warsaw alumni who are now working in the Bay Area for organizations such as Electronic Arts, Visa and the Golden State Warriors attended the event. The reception provided a great opportunity for us to develop relationships with alumni who were in our position just a few years ago.
Complete with informative meetings and engaging events, our Day 1 agenda was a great way to kick off our time in San Francisco. Keep checking the blog this week for more recaps of the remainder of the stops along our tour!
[Editor's Note: After a afternoon meeting at the Pac-12, the group checked into our room at the Serrano Hotel in San Francisco and got ready for day two which included a visit to Visa, The San Jose Sharks/Sharks Sports & Entertainment, and EA Sports. Accelerated MBA Student Katrina Galas will now detail our visit to Visa. Enjoy! - Matthew Van Wyen]
While most companies use a sponsorship in sport to become “top of mind” with their customers, Visa’s goal is to be “top of wallet.” It’s vision – to be life’s currency.
Contrary to popular belief, Visa profits are transaction driven – it doesn’t actually make money off of late bill payments. It is an enabler – the company that brings the world the technology to borrow money. As a result, its main objective is to be the preferred credit card for the most number of purchases, thus “top of wallet.”
Warsaw Alumni, Kara Linse, was a gracious host, especially since she began her career at Visa as Global Sponsorship Marketing Manager (FIFA & Olympics) only a few short months ago. Kara not only spoke about the background of Visa, but her career journey and how her various roles after graduating from Warsaw led her to this great new opportunity in the world of sports business. “It all connects back to my time at Warsaw,” she said, “and being proactive about meeting people and gaining as many relevant experiences as possible while you’re a student.”
By becoming the exclusive IOC TOP sponsor in the Global Payment category back in 1986, (as well as sponsoring 205 National Olympic Committees), Visa is able to require its own credit card as the only acceptable form of payment during these large scale, highly visible and well-attended global sport events. Furthermore, Visa provides the necessary infrastructure (kiosks, etc.) on-site to make this possible.
After listening to Matthew Kauffman, Head of Global Sponsorship Marketing Olympic & NFL teams, it was obvious that Visa is very proud of its sport sponsorships and treats them very seriously, acknowledging that sports are a platform that presents the best opportunity to engage with its consumers. Sports are at the core of its marketing activation strategy, costing significant amounts in association rights and generating impressive ROI year after year. In fact, after speaking with Rob Prazmark, one of the creators of the IOC TOP program, on an earlier Warsaw class trip to NYC, the Olympic Games occupy an entire page in the Visa history books, showcasing the beginning of the Visa Olympic sponsorship as being largely responsible for the turning point in Visa’s global success.
Visa recognizes that the athletes themselves are the essence of any Games and the passion and energy around the event emanates from the athletes. Visa knows its consumers care deeply about the success of their countries’ athletes at the Games and can therefore build a strong brand connection by supporting athletes. Visa over-delivers when it comes to caring about its athletes, going out of its way to get to know them and their families, and honoring them appropriately for their achievements. For example, Visa aired a Michael Phelps congratulatory ad moments after he finished his legendary performance in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
Rich Greene, Sponsorship Marketing for the NFL, spoke about Visa’s association with the NFL and explained that its activation strategy is built off the key insight that for its consumers, experiencing the NFL is “Better Together.” He also shared how Visa taps into existing passion for various teams, rather than trying to create passion itself. This approach allows the brand to have a seat at the table for creating legitimate experiences around the NFL property and its core events, like the Super Bowl. The timing of the NFL, which has recently evolved into a becoming more of a year-round property, compliments the timing of the Olympic and FIFA activation schedules nicely, rounding out Visa’s key sport sponsorship properties.
Finally, Nancy Panter, Business Leader, Global Public Relations, concluded our visit, sharing insights about the role of PR as it relates to sponsorship activation. It is critical to prepare for every scenario that could exist, both positive and negative, so that it can be dealt with promptly and properly if and when it happens. The brand needs to be upheld in every situation and she works extremely hard to ensure that that happens.
A big thank you to Visa for hosting us all at their San Mateo office on April 4, 2012 – it was definitely one of the highlights of our Sports Business week in San Francisco.
[Editor's Note: Our meeting with the PAC-12 spanned numerous topics including the conference's efforts to expand into China. Due to this, we have two contributors for this post. Matthew Maxson covers the PAC-12's rebranding efforts while Shuo Cheng will cover the China initiatives as he was able to meet one-on-one with Carrie Xu, Senior Manager International, about the conference's strategies to enter the Chinese marketplace.]
After a great visit to Marmot to kick off the trip, we all jumped on the vans and headed to Walnut Creek to visit the Pac-12 Conference. There we were greeted with some of the leaders of the Pac-12’s rebranding effort: Danette Leighton, Chief Marketing Officer, Heather Vaughan, Senior Director Marketing, Taylor Lien, Manager Business Development, and Carrie Xu, Senior Manager International.
This great group led us through the conference’s rebranding effort when Commissioner Larry Scott took over in July 2009. The conference had previously been considered an afterthought in the minds of the country and it was their job to bring it to the forefront of college athletics. This was a prime example of establishing what an entity wants its brand image to be known for and sticking to that. The conference set out core values of student athlete welfare, academic excellence, and integrity and continually seeks to promote these things in all decisions that are made. The key brand attributes the conference established are: west coast, innovative, and excellence.
By having a core set of values and attributes to focus on the Pac-12 has become a leader in the college athletic space. They signed a groundbreaking media deal with ESPN and Fox for $3 billion over 12 years. On top of this they were able to retain enough rights to create their own networks that are to be launched this summer. It was great to hear how great leadership, vision, and focus can take an entity to the next level. With a unique story to tell of the conference with the most overall NCAA championships and the far leader in Olympic sports, it will be exciting to see how the Pac-12 continues to build it’s brand nationally and globally. See the attached clip to see their media campaign around the London games.
The visit ended with a call to action from the Warsaw team to help come up with ideas for promotion of the coming Track and Field Pac-12 Championships in May coming to Eugene. Thanks to Danette, Heather, Taylor, and Carrie for opening the Pac-12’s doors and giving us insight into a great best practice for branding and innovation. We look forward to seeing how the conference continues to evolve and look forward to hopefully meeting up again in May.
Carrie Xu, who recently received her masters degree from the University of Southern California Business School with a concentration in sports business and marketing, gave us a fascinating presentation about the Pac-12’s China Initiatives that she has been working on since last year. The Pac-12 decided to try to open the gate to the old and mysterious country after Larry Scott, the Pacific-12 Conference commissioner, spent fours day in Beijing last year, meeting with various officials, including NBA China, Nike China, and NFL China to try to put together a “road map” for a way to expand the presence of Pac-12 universities in China.
The Pac-12’s push into China came from Scott’s initial meetings with all the Pac-12 presidents. He said “the light went off” when he kept hearing about the wide international scope of various universities. The 12 famous universities along the west coast consist of the Pacific 12 conference, which have a higher percentage of international students than other conferences in the United States due to its geographic advantage. As Carrie said, the percentage of international students at the University of Southern California, University of Los Angeles, University of Washington, and University of Oregon is higher than 20%.
In order to increase future recruitment and positive culture exchange, there is a strong desire for the Pac-12 to establish itself overseas. Carrie said the first step for the Pac-12 is to create more exchange programs through major sports such as basketball and volleyball because students in China are familiar with the two sports and there is a plenty of infrastructure to accommodate them. It will be very interesting to see the evolving strategies that the PAC-12 will employ to increase exposure in the Chinese market. Thanks to Carrie for meeting with me individually.
[Editor's Note: This post begins a series of articles that will detail the Warsaw Center's week long visit to the San Francisco area. This trip occurs annually for first year students going into spring term. This year Paul was able to set up 11 visits to a broad group of apparel, gaming, team, college, and advertising organizations all related to sport. The end goal of the trip is to give us all a good snapshot of the various areas in sports we could work in and hopefully lay the groundwork for potential internship opportunities this summer. As a collective, we want to thank Paul for his diligent work setting up a great trip that is definitely one of the highlights and differentiating aspects of the Warsaw program. Without further adieu, I will hand it off to Dylan Packebush to detail our first stop - Marmot --Matt Van Wyen]
Due to a quick weekend trip to the Women’s Final Four in Denver, I arrived in Santa Rosa a little after my classmates. At 2:30am to be exact. While I’m glad to say I missed what surely was an exciting 500 mile drive South, I am a little jealous of the extra sleep they got in. Regardless of the lack of sleep, I woke up excited for the day and the start of an amazing week. We meet in the lobby of our hotel bright and early and departed after a quick breakfast.
First stop: Marmot Clothing and Equipment (For those that may have never heard of it, Marmot is a growing company that produces outdoor recreational equipment for all skill levels and uses. Think North Face, Patagonia, Columbia and the like). The organization grew out of what started as a student organization at UC-Santa Cruz called the Marmot Club. Avid outdoorsmen, founders Eric Reynolds and Dave Huntley began designing and creating their own down sleeping bags and other clothing in their dorm rooms as a way to push the envelope of outdoor equipment. Soon after graduation, in 1974, Eric and Dave opened an outdoor store in Grand Junction Colorado with a friend. This paved the way for the company that we know today. Marmot broke into the sleeping bag and tent scene by being the first to introduce Gore-Tex to the world of outdoor recreation. They remained relatively small through the 90s, but were recently funded by an investment firm that will hopefully allow them to compete with the big brands of North Face and Patagonia. Check out a recent commercial for the company, this is in line with their company positioning and marketing strategy of magnifying the fun of the outdoors rather than extreme aspects.
Our tour guides for the day were Tom Fritz, VP of Marketing, and Greg Houser, VP of Design/ Product Development. Tom took us through the history and development of the Marmot, as well as through the facility. I was surprised with how small the space was. Tom did tell us that we would be the last Warsaw class to see the current facility since they are moving to a brand new facility at the end of the month which will be exciting for future classes to see as it sounded top-of-the-line. Stops on the tour included: the office spaces (or Cubical City as Tom called it), the photography studio, the returns and warranties area (Marmot offers a lifetime factory warranty on ALL equipment), and maybe the most interesting part was the down room where they still hand stuff all their sleeping bags as a way to pay homage to their roots in a college dorm room. Filling every Marmot sleeping bag by hand is a key way that they keep the foundation of their brand sacred.
After the tour, Tom took us through some of the business initiatives that Marmot is facing. We covered everything from financing to competing with the major players in the industry to the importance of telling their story. After Tom informed us, Greg took over and walked us through Marmots design strategy. We discussed the importance segmenting their products based on the needs and wants of their consumers and how each design and segment flowed into and overlapped with the others. It was enlightening to see how much went in to the process of designing a jacket. Greg also walked us through the retail and distribution efforts behind the bringing a product to market. My main take away was that Marmot, and other companies, design and create new, flashy equipment as a way to advertise and grab the attention of consumer while knowing that at the end of the day their solid colors and traditional equipment will remain their top sellers.
After a quick lunch and a brief question and answer discussion, we were off to Walnut Creek to meet with the Pac-12 Conference.
I would like to thank Marmot Clothing and Equipment, on behalf of all of Warsaw and the Lundquist College of Business, for taking the time to share the ins-and-outs of their organization with our group.
-Dylan Packebush, Warsaw ‘13
On Friday April 8, first year Warsaw students visited Sparta Sports Science located in Menlo Park, CA. Dr. Phil Wagner, Director of Sparta Sports Science, hosted the group. Sparta Sports Science develops individualized training, nutrition, and recovery programs for its clients. The goal is to make each athlete healthier, stronger, and more mentally tough. Sparta is unique in the sense that it combines science and technology to develop these programs. Additionally, Sparta offers its clients highly individualized training and attention to maximize performance and minimize injuries.
At the core of the Sparta program is neuromuscular reprogramming. Reprogramming allows each athlete to control nervous system signals, enhancing performance through efficiency and effectiveness. Sparta analyzes three factors for each athlete: force, rate, and time. The first objective of the Sparta training regimen is to balance these factors, thereby minimizing the risk of injury. Once balanced, Sparta focuses on increasing these factors to improve performance.
Sparta currently services high performing athletes, ranging from high school to the pros, in sports such as baseball, soccer, volleyball, basketball, and other Olympic sports. Its client list is impressive. Sparta has trained high profile stars such as Chase Utley, Ryan Braun, Ronnie Brewer, Nnamdi Asomugha, and Brandi Chastain to name a few.
We all walked away impressed with Sparta’s scientific approach to training. It was evident Sparta has positioned itself for significant growth. And with its recent partnership with Adidas, Sparta is making the right moves to reach its goals and become the preeminent training facility in the US.
– Steve Acampa, MBA ’12