It's remarkable that the Washington Commanders' off-field transformation is farther along than its on-field efforts, given the franchise's "adverse reputational issues."
Words of wisdom
If someone showed me a five-year plan, I would throw out the pages. The person thinks he or she can evaluate the business conditions five years from now.
Commanders' off-field turnaround continues to surge
One of the league's most marginal teams last season is now 2-0, with a close home win over Jacksonville. After some longtimers jumped ship, a property that had been mired in disrepute attracted new commercial patrons. The team is expecting at least a 20% increase in sponsorship revenues this year, including the expansion of the Commanders legal sports betting portfolio and the opening of a sports book at FedEx Field.
There is a large recent deal with SeatGeek, new money from Papa John's, fin tech and block chain concerns, as well as the addition of a cruise line, which definitely involved interesting negotiations.
One of the most challenging aspects of marketing is attracting new customers without alienating loyalists. The problem of changing your brand name after 89 years is even more complicated. We wanted to focus on how the Commanders are approaching a B-to-B market which is between curious and suspicious.
It is clear that any Commanders sponsor can carry on with the promise of a new stadium with them. Ryan Moreland, the team's chief partnership officer since October, said the team has added 60 percent new staffers in sales, activation, strategy and content.
The focus is now on fan experience, custom content, and creating an in-house agency at a time when there's so much more emphasis on assets that are digital content. We didn't pursue the training facility because we wanted the chance to tell organic stories with a local Virginia company.
Paragon of Marketing: Schiller selling off equity stake at Paragon
Tony Schiller has been at the helm of the group for 27 years. Schiller is selling his stake in the business to his partners.
"I'm an employee now, and I'm contractually bound to the 100 employees for another five years," chuckled Schiller, who remains the executive vice president.
Steve Waight, the former VP of Corporate Partnerships for the Hawks, is going to be the new senior vice president of business development. Waight has been with the Hawks for a long time.
He will continue to pursue an interest in academics for the sports business industry.
Tony is selling his stake in the company.
- Pivot Agency is launching a naming-rights division and is in the process of raising $20 million in funding to support the new effort, reports SBJ's Bret McCormick. Pivot founder Ben Shapiro includes jersey patches and helmet decals under the naming-rights banner.
- The Coyotes’ former arena naming-rights partner, Gila River Resorts & Casinos, will remain with the team this season as its home jersey patch sponsor, reports SBJ's Alex Silverman.
- Innovative Partnership Group is bringing on Daniel Cassidy as director within its business development team, leading the agency's new office in Charlotte. Prior to IPG, Cassidy most recently was a sponsorship business development lead at Learfield.
- Dan Shell from United Talent Agency, who brokered the naming-rights deal for Maryland’s football stadium with the State Employees' Credit Union, tells my colleague Michael Smith that he is bullish on stadium and arena naming rights, especially in the college space.
- SBJ this week rolled out our honorees for the 2022 class of New Voices Under 30. Among those with ties to sports marketing, sponsorship, advertising and licensing are CSM Sport & Entertainment's Avery Decker, Octagon's Allie Grayson, Ilitch Sports' Tiffany Harrington, 160over90's Jake Horowitz, MLB's Mike Niego, the USTA's Ciera Rojas, and the NBA's TaJuan Watson.