|The recent protests have stirred a conversation about when and how brands, teams, and leagues should or shouldn’t speak up, as well as how to turn words into action. Many think the combination of COVID 19 and Black Lives Matter will further push cause marketing and social responsibility to the forefront more than ever as the sports industry returns in the coming weeks. One person taking on that charge is M. Quentin Williams, a former Boston College football player who had a diverse career in the front offices of the Jacksonville Jaguars, the NBA, and the NFL as well as being a player representative, FBI agent, prosecutor and faculty member at St. John’s University. Recently, his work has been focused on boosting community involvement, especially with law enforcement and all areas of business as part of his platform, Dedication to Community. D2C focuses on creating dialogue and engagement opportunities between athletes, community leaders, brands and teams as a way to foster growth and build bridges for all involved.
We asked Williams to better explain the opportunity, and the future for cause marketing and social responsibility tied to sports business.
Williams on recent cause engagement: With Coronavirus, the interest in community engagement and social responsibility was clear from the beginning; the enemy is a virus and we must band together as one to support and use all resources possible to defeat an unknown enemy. It was a quick rise and the battle lines were drawn. BLM is totally different. This was a community issue that was growing for years – on the heels of decades, really centuries, of dysfunction – and the killing of George Floyd pushed it over the top. We have seen athletes and teams commit to the cause, but brands have been slow. The reason? It is much more political in nature, and many are risk averse to engagement. There has been a good amount of talk and catch phrases, but the real work is the opportunity, and that has been a much slower build so far.
On how brands can get involved in BLM: This is a community issue as much if not more than a police issue. If I am advising brands I would look to ramp up not just spending dollars, but increasing the social responsibility programs I have. Even better, if I am involved with a team or a league, I would be reallocating dollars and engagement to community initiatives that unite groups like law enforcement and youth and also look to another underserved area, voting registration and awareness. We have seen that those who spend the time and effort in that space build not just good will, they strengthen the ties which lead to a greater brand affinity, sometimes with a consumer they were not thinking of.
On making community engagement a bigger priority for teams and leagues: Make no mistake most teams, leagues and athletes are doing good work in the community. Sometimes they are not the most appealing of programs for media coverage, but this work is so vastly needed. Since they are not necessarily the most appealing programs, they are sometimes an afterthought with regard to deep engagement from a business perspective and brands include them as just an add on for a bigger, more traditional deal. Now we believe this push to community will go from afterthought to forefront, and it will become a strategic success point for those teams and leagues that raise the level of priority for these programs, and for the brands who need and want deeper involvement with a diverse community.
On the biggest need for invoking change: It’s pretty simple. We need to create better vehicles for listening by all parties. Often times when there is a crisis, there is a rush for sympathy and talk of change, but we sometimes easily regress back to the status quo when things simmer down. We don’t think that is possible this time. We work with community groups, teams and law enforcement, not in silos, but in a homogenous group. Once you create better listening, understanding grows. Out of understanding comes engagement, out of engagement comes programs out of programs comes success. It is not about defunding, it’s about working together and building common ground, and there are no better builders and influencers in the community than the teams and leagues, and the brands they work with. We see challenges, but we also see great opportunity.
The Major League Baseball Players Association asked MLB to come up with a shortened schedule for the 2020 season, breaking off talks for the latest return-to-play proposal by the league, likely leading toward a a vastly shortened schedule. In a statement Saturday night, MLBPA executive director Tony Clark rejected MLB’s latest proposal and said: “Further dialogue with the league would be futile. It’s time to get back to work. Tell us when and where.” Meanwhile, in a statement, MLB said in part: “We are disappointed that the MLBPA has chosen not to negotiate in good faith over resumption of play after MLB has made three successive proposals that would provide players, Clubs and our fans with an amicable resolution to a very difficult situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
In better news, multiple reports state that a new postseason television deal between Turner Sports and MLB has been agreed to, topping $1 billion and allow Turner to continue carrying a league championship series each October. We’ll have more details as they come out.
The WNBA formally submitted a proposal to its players to resume the 2020 season that will pay 100% of player salaries, according to ESPN. The league proposed a 22-game regular season that would tip off on July 24, reportedly at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. The playoffs will be standard length: single-elimination first- and second-round games, then five-game series for the semifinals and the WNBA Finals with the playoffs ending in October.
With the PGA TOUR back in play, the sport’s return to competition on gave a boost to GOLF Channel, with opening round coverage of the Charles Schwab Challenge drawing a Total Audience Delivery (of 683,000 average viewers (4-7p ET), up 160% vs. opening round of the 2019 Charles Schwab Challenge. The event also became the most-watched Thursday telecast on the PGA TOUR (excluding Presidents Cup) since the 2019 PLAYERS Championship (907k average viewers). It also marks the most-watched opening round telecast at the event (672k average viewers) in its 14 years on GOLF Channel, according to Nielsen.
Speaking of the PGA TOUR, ESPN+ and the PGA TOUR reached an agreement for ESPN+ to stream live, featured-hole coverage from 12 PGA TOUR events this season through the FedExCup Playoffs and the TOUR Championship, Sept. 6-7 in Atlanta. The new pact comes ahead of the launch of PGA TOUR LIVE on ESPN+, the nine-year domestic rights agreement announced in March, which begins in 2022. “We’re excited to be adding live PGA TOUR coverage to ESPN+ as this season resumes, and we look forward to ESPN+ being the future home of
ESPN also announced big plans for SportsCenter tonight, with SportsCenter Special: The Return of Sports as commissioners from six of the top American professional team sports leagues discuss the return to competition in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Mike Greenberg hosts the two-hour primetime special at 9p with Gary Bettman (NHL), Cathy Engelbert (WNBA), Don Garber (MLS), Roger Goodell (NFL), Rob Manfred (MLB) and Adam Silver (NBA) expected to participate in conversations. In addition, the ESPN special will discuss social justice reform efforts among leagues, teams and players that have come to the forefront following the death of George Floyd and with worldwide demonstrations calling for justice, equality and the condemnation of racism.
Formula One said it will drop races in Azerbaijan, Singapore and Japan this year due to issues arising from the coronavirus pandemic. The governing body will still look to deliver up to 18 races in the rearranged 2020 season, with the first eight already confirmed starting with a double-header in Austria in early July.
EA Sports announced that it will partner with La Liga and English Premier League as they return to play to provide “Atmospheric Audio”, providing authentic crowd noise for broadcasters while seasons are completed behind closed doors, using original crowd noise, chants and reactions from stadiums around the world. EA SPORTS FIFA’s team of audio experts has pulled together soundboards unique to La Liga and the English Premier League, with over 1300 assets and roughly 13 hours of content for broadcasters to play back to match actions as they take place on the field.
|“The Cynopsis Sports Awards continue to recognize the passionate stories coming from both behind and in-front of the camera. We are honored to continue that tradition and thank the industry for their continued support.”
– Chris Pursell | CYNOPSIS Director of Content
Virtual Awards Celebration: August 12th – Stay Tuned For Details!
|SPONSORSHIP & PROMOTION
Major League Soccer is reportedly looking to allow its teams to sell sponsorship patches on shorts this year in a move to offset revenue losses from the pandemic shutdown. The Washington Post writes that teams have been given the green light to negotiate deals for sponsor logos that could be worn as early as the MLS is Back Tournament this summer. The league is also reportedly looking into allowing corporate logos on the left sleeve of team jerseys.
M3COM made its debut as a sponsor in pro sports with through a partnership with two-time PGA Tour winner Harris English. “This is a very big and proud moment for our company. The relationship with Harris is about more than golf or a business opportunity. It’s about being associated with a world class individual that has the same drive and core values as M3COM. We couldn’t be happier having Harris represent M3COM and our brand throughout the world–there is no one better to represent us.” said Jeffery B. Freitas, President/CEO of M3COM.
DIGITAL, DATA & TECH
Panini America released its 2019-20 Panini National Treasures NBA collection, which features Zion Williamson’s Rookie Patch Logoman card – autographed by the player and featuring the NBA logo from one of his game-worn jerseys. BlowoutCards.com offered a “bounty” offering $500,000 for it.
The LCS landed a multi-year partnership with Verizon, continuing a strong of deals in the past week. Under the partnership, Verizon will serve as the league’s official 5G network, and develop ways to elevate player and fan experiences through 5G. Verizon will also be incorporated into the broadcast as the first-ever presenting sponsor for Academy Rush, and as a sponsor for LCS post-match interview segments.
With the debut of the Summer Split, the LCS bring fans back into the LCS Studios (virtually) via the LCS DOME powered by Alienware. LCS broadcast team and engineers led by Dave/RumbleStew, Executive Producer of the LCS, and Justin/Riot Oniatserj, Creative Technology Producer, partnered with Immersive Design Studios to bring viewers into a 3D world, using the Canvas Platform and Unreal Engine, leveraging 75 virtual cameras (versus 22 actual cameras in our physical studios and 54 at last year’s Worlds) and pre-animated camera moves to transport viewers across different 3D environments and sets, and integrate our broadcast talent, segments and sponsors in more dynamic ways.
The NBA 2K League season announced four new marketing partnerships, cementing deals with GameStop, Jostens, SAP and Tissot. The new partners join the NBA 2K League’s record roster of 13 marketing partners for 2020, the most ever for an NBA 2K League season. GameStop is the Official Video Game Retailer of the NBA 2K League and the Presenting Partner of Draft Clash. Jostens is the Official Ring Partner of the NBA 2K League and recently delivered custom championship rings to 2019 NBA 2K League Champion T-Wolves Gaming. SAP joins the NBA 2K League as its Official Business Analytics Software Partner and the Presenting Partner of the official NBA 2K League stats website. Tissot is the Official Watch and the Official Timekeeper of the NBA 2K League, presenting the league’s virtual in-game shot clock and buzzer beaters as they occur.
Electronic Arts and FIFA unveiled a “larger, evolved EA SPORTS FIFA 20 esports ecosystem” that adds new competitions and returning football league tournaments, as well as online tournaments that will replace the EA SPORTS FIFA 20 Global Series including the FIFA eWorld Cup. The EA SPORTS FIFA 20 Summer Cup Series is made up of six online regional tournaments featuring invited top players across Europe, Asia, South America, Oceania, North America, and Middle East-Africa, all competing to be crowned one of six winners. Additionally, many of the world’s top football leagues, including Bundesliga, LaLiga, Ligue 1, MLS and more, are resuming EA SPORTS FIFA 20 esports events under revised formats.
Evil Geniuses unlocked a partnership with Motorola, serving as a presenting partner and official smartphone of both the Evil Geniuses LCS and Academy teams. Throughout the Summer Split, Evil Geniuses will showcase the Motorola Edge+ and the features of the phone. The custom content enabled by this partnership “spans in-depth analysis that takes gamers inside signature plays throughout the season as well as the inaugural and presenting partnership of the Evil Geniuses bi-weekly LCS-themed podcast ‘Chaotic Neutral.’”
Meanwhile, Tempo Storm announced the launch of its official YouTube channel for its upcoming digital strategy game, The Bazaar. Serving as the one-stop destination for all things related to Tempo’s first-ever original game release, the channel will feature an ongoing video series, “The Making of The Bazaar.” Each installment will provide fans a “unique, inside look at the ongoing development of the forthcoming game including design, features, and more behind-the-scenes footage.”
The PUBG Mobile World League season zero was unveiled at the ongoing PMPL South Asia finals, featuring two divisions, East and West, with a total prize pool of $850,000, marking he biggest prize pool for a single PUBG Mobile event in history and running July 10-August 9.
|The adtech community is stepping up to the plate…
The Cynopsis Adtech Awards
Enter By June 24th
During a time when in-person events have been cancelled, the adtech community is stepping up. They’re helping to guarantee marketers upfront inventory and preserve revenue for media owners by using breakthrough approaches and solutions. Adtech providers are a group that lives on the cutting edge of innovation, which is why we are celebrating their platforms, campaigns, and strategies in more than 20 categories. View them all here.
|On this Day
2004: The Pistons upset the Lakers in Game 5 of the NBA Finals to hand the Pistons their first championship since 1990.
In the Know
The Los Angeles Rams retired #80 to honor which player? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city).
Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question
Which male golfer has won the most Major championships? Answer Jack Nicklaus. Kudos: Gregory Conner-Tennis Media/NY; Greg Maltzman-Up Down Digital/NY; Chris Madigan-BZA PR/NY; John Lappas-Home Team Sports/NY; Mark Lehman-Braves/Atlanta; Art Salisch-Nielsen/NJ; Matt Sautter-WideOrbit/Harrisburg; Creed Heilskov-ImOn Communications/Cedar Rapids; Joe Lyons-ESPN/Dallas; Lexi Betcher-Home Team Sports/Chicago; Travis Wacker- ESPN Chicago/Chicago; Jason Brist-Outdoor Sportsman Group/Chicago; Rich Wolfe-Lone Wolfe Press/Scottsdale; David Hauptman/Denver; Dave Sikula-San Francisco State University/San Francisco; Dan Weiner-Condé Nast/LA; Andy Babb-Super League Gaming/Santa Monica; Greg Dudsic/Venice
MY Entertainment is seeking a highly organized, charismatic, and reality-TV loving candidate w/1yr admin exp and working exp in TV. Strong knwldg MS PP &Keynote. Adobe Suite (Premiere & InDesign preferred) Full info HERE
9 Story Media
Remote for now & eventually NYC office. Exp’d producer for an iconic, high profile preschool series that combines 2D, 3D and live action. 5+ yrs production exp, children’s content exp, animation req’d. Strong storytelling skills w/understanding of preschool audiences. Full info HERE (6/26)
VP GROWTH MARKETING >>
Jersey City, NJ: Lead/develop, and deploy enhancements to PointsBet’s growth marketing strategies including performance media, SEO, Conversion Rate Optimization, MarTech, and more. 10+yrs of exp in relevant growth marketing roles, ideally for digital/app based product(s). Full info HERE (6/23)
EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT >>
MY ENTERTAINMENT/NYC: MY Entertainment is seeking a highly organized, charismatic, and reality-TV loving candidate w/1yr admin exp and working exp in TV. Strong knwldg MS PP &Keynote. Adobe Suite (Premiere & InDesign preferred) Full info HERE (6/23)
DIRECTOR OF SALES >>
RNN/Rye Brooke NY: Responsible for growing and managing its Diginet business across all of its TV stations. Minimum of 5 yrs exp in sales in the TV industry and experience in Diginet/multicast/D2 business required. Exp’d networking & establishing new relationships with key players at agencies and advertisers. BA deg Full info HERE (6/18)
SR PODCAST PRODUCER >>
Glass Entertainment Group/Philadelphia: Story producer to help lead a new episodic podcast. You will be involved in episode dvlopmnt, rsrch, interview prep & prod episodes (both during actual record & in post). Background in storytelling & min 5yrs exp making audio, pref w/proven field reporting exp. Full info HERE (6/18)
PRODUCER, BROADCAST LIVE >>
AccuWeather/State College PA: Produce compelling live video segments for the national network on a daily and as-needed schedule. Put together the rundown for each individual segment and work with a team. Entrepreneurial spirit & working knwldg of non-linear editing suites req’d. Full info HERE (6/18)
MARKETING MANAGER, SVOD >>
AMC Networks’ Acorn TV/Silver Spring, MD: Plans, implements, evaluates performance/KPIs of multi-territory subscriber acquisition campaigns; acts as creative lead and agency POC. Spanish fluency required; marketing exp, 5+ yrs. Full info/apply HERE (6/17)
MGR/DIRECTOR, MARKETING COMMUNICATIONS >>
ISE/LA: Passionate, innovative & driven candidate to support planning, development & execution of marketing, brand building & PR initiatives for the company’s Football & Basketball clients. 5+ yrs comms, sales, superior marketing & athletic brand building skills a must. Full info HERE (6/17)
PUBLICIST, COMMUNICATIONS >>
Earth Day Network/DC: Help support the dvlpmnt/ execution of multi-channel, integrated communications and engagement strategies. 3+ yrs of communications planning and execution exp. Superior communication skills a must. Full info HERE (6/17)