Friday, September 22, 2017

Guest Lectures at Long Beach State

This week, I had the honor of speaking with multiple marketing classes at CSULB.  Taking over the week for Professor Tomlin, I set about to engage the students with real-life case studies and examples of successful marketing activations.  Deploying the same philosophy I utilize in other speaking engagements and in the The Surfer's Guide To Marketing book, I strongly believe that my objective should be to educate, motivate, and entertain the next generation of marketing minds.
Lecturing to the class with video and even some POP show-and-tell
Focusing on some of my favorite cases throughout my career and discussing award-winning marketing efforts with brands like FX, NFL, ESPN, ABC and others, I showcased the promotional spots, POP, and collateral materials to allow the students to better comprehend the strategy, activation, and ROI each of these campaign bring.

The last element of the class was to have the students break into smaller groups and create a strategy for ESPN's Monday Night Football campaign and follow it up with brief presentations of their concepts.  Following their presentations, we showed our version of the Legends of Monday sweepstakes with four Hall of Famers including Ronnie Lott, Marcus Allen, Lawrence Taylor and Tony Dorsett, and the fully engaged class was more than enthused to see our version of their assignment come to fruition.

Working with breakout groups on their ESPN case assignment
In all, the students of CSULB were engaging, eager, and more than up for the challenge of becoming the next wave of marketing greats.  And it was my privilege to hopefully enlighten the classes and motivate them to pursue the world of sports and entertainment marketing as a career opportunity.

Thursday, January 12, 2017


They say no one ever wins in divorce (except perhaps the attorneys.)  When a sports team leaves a city it’s called home for 50+ years, you can expect some bad feelings.  But from a marketing perspective, the Chargers organization needs to call the right plays to try to make the best of a new situation.  While you may or may not appreciate the way the Spanos organization runs the team, as someone who has created award-winning marketing and branding for leagues, teams, players and sports properties I can surely lend some insight to how they should proceed with the positioning of their product going forward.

So far, the Chargers organization appears to have done everything wrong (and I’m not just talking about on-the-field performance) beginning with the instant alienation of the San Diego community.  While the Los Angeles market is a huge demographic and certainly has the numbers to support multiple NFL teams, attempting to keep any loyal San Diego, Orange County, and Inland Empire fans should still be a priority.  They say it takes 4x as much to secure a new customer as it does to retain one and the Bolts should do everything possible to engage those fans willing to jump on team-sponsored caravan buses up the 405.  Even if 20% of the fans carry over, it’s a great base to start with.   Because unlike other past NFL team moves (Browns to Baltimore, Rams to St. Louis, etc.) current Chargers fans are still a viable target market based on proximity.
But swapping to “Los Angeles” and flaunting “LA” on all their social media is like bringing your new girlfriend to the aforementioned divorce hearings.  Embracing all of Southern California is a much better approach and highlighting CHARGERS versus LOS ANGELES is a simple branding direction that at least attempts to create inclusion.

Here's the official statement from the Chargers on, well... bolting.

Remember, there is a rivalry between the two towns between the Dodgers vs Padres and the old LA Raiders vs Chargers (although Dodgers fans claim the SF Giants as their primary foe), so the only thing worse than losing your team is having them relocate to your rival town.  And the OC has had it's share of "LA slighting" with the whole "California turned Anaheim Angeles turned Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim now Los Angeles Angels" thing.  Note: just as I'm suggesting, they wisely limited backlash by focusing on the Angels' "A" logo versus the city name.
On the subject of branding, coming into a market as the clear “second team” is hard enough (maybe even the third best pro team if you add USC).  Now, from Day 1, the Bolts have already made it worse with the unveiling of their “me too” LA logo.

Unfortunately, the interlocking “LA” looks like they spent 10 minutes editing the Los Angeles Dodgers’ logo.  The first impression of the Dodgers and Tampa Bay Lightning logos' love child doesn’t appear to have the cleaver, professional look that the NFL has become accustomed to with dynamic branding and marks.  To be blunt, the simple LA-with-a-bolt-emphasis just looks bad. And somehow it has managed to single-handedly upsets THE ENTIRE AUDIENCE by insulting A) current Los Angeles sports fans with a flimsy attempt to side with them via their beloved LA symbol, and B) any San Diegans willing to still support the team, for obvious reasons. 
The NFL is known for the "uniform police" who make sure the players wear their uni's properly so I can only imagine that the league has to be throwing the red challenge flag over this LAme logo.

If the Bolts strategy is to cut-the-cord 100% and loyal fan base be damned, then they should do it.  With rumors that they will eventually rebrand, a la the Tennessee Titans from the Oilers, and change the name, it’s best to “rip the band aid off” and do the rename at the same time as the relocation.  Start completely fresh, not in waves.  This whole make-shift unveiling adds to the appearance of a knee-jerk reaction when we all know they have been strategically exploring this move for years.

Winning cures all.  Southern Californians are a fickle bunch and unless the team is doing well on the turf, the team can’t expect to fill the seats.  With all the hype, excitement and years of loyal Ram fans awaiting their team’s return, the team was still only one of two NFL teams with under 90% capacity.   Now, adding a second team with an extremely limited tie to the market (the Chargers did start off as the Los Angeles Chargers after all) they have an up-field battle ahead of them.  If the LA Chargers (Or LA Traffic, LA Paparazzi, LA Smog, or whatever they eventually become) wants to be successful and evoke the passion that the team had during their lone Super Bowl run, they need to perform on the field.  With better marketing, branding, and creating an inclusive environment for shunned San Diegans, the Chargers can make the best of a tumultuous situation.
Or just go sign Antonio Brown, Aaron Rogers, OBJ, Luke Kuechly, JJ Watt and Ezekiel Elliott and bring the Lombardi home… to LA.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016


With Roger Goodell tweeting about the deal between the NFL and Twitter to broadcast Thursday Night Football, it looks like the next generation of consuming sports content is in full swing.  While the two players already had a working relationship, there are several reasons to be even more excited about the teaming of two blue-chip draft picks.

One thing we know is that the NFL is a juggernaut that doesn't make distribution or partnership decisions without significant strategy and foresight.  By all accounts, Twitter was not the highest offer and other teams (including Amazon, Yahoo, Verizon, etc) all bid between 30-50% more.  The partnership between the social media platform and the NFL was based more about opportunity than just plain revenue.  Like a veteran player accepting less money to play for a Super Bowl contender, the league made a strategic versus financial move.  And with Twitter's 350M users, it makes sense for the NFL to sure-up its roster by covering digital/social media with one of the top players out there.

Simply put, this is a win-win deal.  As much as the NFL wins with the ability to add a popular distribution channel, Twitter is also a big victor as they practically steal the rights.  $10M to broadcast the Nation's number one sport equates to a small OTA attendance clause in a QB's contract. By comparison, the NFL will get a total of approximately $450 Million from CBS and NBC for the rights to broadcast 10 games in 2016 and 2017, according to the Wall Street Journal.  Based on those deals, Twitter would have still scored a decent contract at $10M PER GAME! 

At only one million dollars per week, which the social media platform must easily spend in weekly marketing/SEO, they are able to become a destination hub on Thursdays.  Its a fantastic deal and also allows for the creation of more shoulder programming with Periscope, in-game highlights, live Tweets, etc.  Aligning with the NFL and having the most valued commodity in the world of content (NBC's Sunday Night Football was the highest rated series in America) makes this deal unbeatable.

Like Sean Payton in film study, the NFL explores every angle and the best way to strategically position 'the shield'.  The league sees where there might be holes in the distribution secondary and they attack those areas to strengthen their game plan.  While its no secret that the league wants to be ahead of the curve for the next generation of 'cord-cutting' fans, the right platform is indeed key.    The NFL is well-covered on television with deals for that same Thursday Night Football package split between CBS, NBC, and their own NFL Network.  And with larger deals for broadcast rights with partners including ESPN, NBC, Verizon, DIRECTV, etc., there is no shortage of players on the traditional (and mobile) platforms.  So shoring up the OTT/digital special teams solidifies their roster.  This move was a no-brainer and inevitable.  We just didn't know what the name on the jersey would ultimately be.

While only time will tell if this is a Super Bowl winning deal, it looks like both parties have scored.  They each addressed a free agent need and teamed up to provide desirable content across one of the most powerful social media platforms.   This is no Hershel Walker trade where only the Cowboys won big.  Its a true win-win with a big-time QB adding an All-Pro receiver to the offense.  Now let's see if the scoreboard will light up, in real time, at 140 characters per score!

Monday, January 4, 2016


Did that commercial get your attention?  Is that ad you saw in a magazine stuck in your head?  Did that celebrity convince you to purchase their brand?

Ultimately, its the consumer's perception of the brand that matters most and as a marketing veteran and resident consumer myself, I wanted to share my opinion on some of the current efforts that work and some that drop the ball.


The Mayhem DIY campaign is hilarious and attention-getting at the same time.  While we have heard ad nauseum about house, car, and medical insurance from Flo, a lizard, cavemen, etc,, how many of us DIYers actually thought our own wannabe construction efforts pose a real hazard?  Sure I have some duct taped wiring in my home (220 or 221, whatever it takes) but I never realized that it could be a real issue in terms of liability.

In these Allstate spots, Mayhem (played by former FX's Rescue Me actor Dean Winters) describes real peoples' DIY nightmare stories and encourages you to vote for the best one.  Allstate will then have a reenactment during the Super Bowl.  I subscribe that a campaign needs to have a creative story and a memorable hook or twist to cut through the clutter.  These spots do and as a fun little twist, users who register can win the DIYer's tools so they never fix or build anything again.  Clever.

Its an interesting twist on boring insurance commercials and overall, its refreshing and works.

Check out the sweepstakes page here.

And for more info on the insurance provider's other sponsorship efforts, click here.

Speaking of Allstate, the Allstate Sugar Bowl stunt was also a very eye-catching effort.  Showcasing how thieves (and Mayhem) can utilize your social media posts to gain insight to rob you while you are tweeting away at the big game, they went in and "sold" all of the contents of an unsuspecting victim's house while they were out.  The campaign utilized social and viral tactics to garner views and with +20M Facebook impressions within a day, I'd classify this as a very buzz-worthy success.

For more, check out this link.



I don't want to be the old codger who rains on everyone's parade.  I used to say that if you don't approve of content that isn't kid friendly, don't have your kid watch.  But there are some areas where I believe big advertisers like Pfizer are being irresponsible and crossing the line.

The Viagra ads run during the football season feature the attractive female discussing ... well, you know.  I understand football is the ideal target marketing for men interested in sexual issues (feel free to drop in your own Dallas Cowboys' offense is impotent joke here) but lots of kids, including my 9-year-old son watch religiously.

Its bad enough when they speak in code (using the term ED) but I can play that off as one of the many pharma ads run on TV that frankly none of us even know what illness they are used for.  But lately, Viagra has become less subtle and uses terms like "Erectile Dysfunction" and "Erection" now.  My son looks more confused than Eli Manning being blitzed and its only a matter of time that an innocent day of talking football turns into "the talk".

Perhaps the FCC or other governing bodies need to regulate when those ads are run or what they can do to dilute the terminology?  I'd appreciate it if the sexy lady on the bed doesn't make my son question the ad beyond "Dad, her jersey is blank so which team does she root for?"

Forbes has brought this up in past articles and its something we should address.  I'd love to hear your thoughts so feel free to add your comments.

Friday, May 15, 2015

An Amazing, Selfless X-Mas Letter From 11-Year-Old Girl About Her Cancer-stricken Grandmother

Amazing and caring young lady.  Share if you have someone in
your life who cares as much for their loved ones.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015


I am always excited to speak with various groups about my marketing experience and creative approach.  I demonstrate real-world successes versus theories and I've had the great fortune of addressing everyone from industry executives to colleges to high schools.

Speaking at the recent CTAM Think event for television marketing and millennials at FOX.

I find it works well to bring a combination of expertise as well as levity to group settings to be able to entertain while informing the audience.  If you've read The Surfer's Guide To Marketing you know by now that humor is a great vehicle to communicate the principles and strategies of dynamic marketing efforts.  And it makes for a fun afternoon!

In Miami on a panel hosted by on-air personality Dave Holmes

If you haven't had the amazing pleasure of hearing me speak (and who WOULDN'T want to experience that?!) then please follow me on social media and lets connect.  Who knows, perhaps I can bring some of my great strategies and (not so great) jokes to your group!

Monday, March 2, 2015

CTAM Think Event

It's never been a more exciting time to be in the world of entertainment marketing.  Along with the creative forces that develop desirable content, the world of technology has landed front and center in the platforms with which consumers get their content.

I preach about passion brands.  Those brands like Apple, NFL, ESPN, and others that evoke instant response.  They drive enthusiasm for their users and elevate their status over their competition.  And with the advances with technology, the debate about providing those hungry viewers with the best vehicle to consume the content they crave  has become significant in the industry.  Terms like TVE, OTT, VOD, and other acronyms that describe how you will "watch TV" in the future make for an exciting time.

I am proud to be discussing the marketing approach for the next wave of technology and how, in particular, millennials will consume content in the future.  The CTAM Think panel held at the FOX studios lot this week will be a great dialog for the future.  Both content providers and operators (the cable and telco folks who currently supply you with your networks) will discuss how we, as marketers, communicate the future of how consumers view their favorite show.