Intersport Activation Summit

MCGFor the second year in a row I attended the Intersport Activation Summit where the strongest marketers in the U.S. get together to discuss best practices in the activation arena. I have very few opportunities to get out from our day-to-day business and learn from other industry leaders so events like this one are something I always look forward to. Since you are probably like me and don’t ever slow down, I thought I would share the top tidbits from this year’s Intersport Activation Summit.  

Opening Remarks – The keynote speaker Jeff Goodby, Co-Chairman and partner of Goodby Silverstein & Partners, shared a half-dozen campaigns that his agency has developed. Together with their partner at Doritos, the company developed a disruptive campaign at the 2014 Super Bowl that created the world’s largest human Doritos chip. The team strategically selected key seats in the end zone and recruited 30 bold fans to dress up in nacho cheese-colored outfits and ambush the telecast. When the TV cameras panned down the field, onlookers saw a chip-shaped figure in the grandstands that will not soon be forgotten. Doritos was not a Super Bowl partner but it still made a big splash by thinking in a bold new way.  

San Francisco 49ers – Praag Marathe, President of the San Francisco 49ers, discussed the innovation in the newly constructed Levi’s Stadium that will serve as the home of the 49ers. By utilizing multiple technology partners, including Google and Intel, the 49ers are building the most technologically advanced stadium in America. The new technology will enable guests to order food and souvenirs directly to their seats, allow for a paperless experience and deliver high-definition, slow-motion, instant replays in real time via guest’s smartphone devices. As a tech enthusiast, I immediately get excited by the possibilities but also remain apprehensive about the adoption rate by people like my father that struggle to use their iPhone. In anticipation of these tech-challenged guests, the 49ers are also creating a team of tech ambassadors known as the “NineNerds” that will assist guests with all tech-related questions. By creating an asset like these ambassadors, the 49ers will minimize issues before they manifest and truly give guests a best-in-class live event experience.   

HP Enterprise Services and NASCAR – Tony Erickson, Vice President and General Manager of energy, media and entertainment and management services at HP, has been a friend of mine since HP entered into a partnership agreement with NASCAR to develop and construct the NASCAR Fan and Media Engagement Center powered by HP Technology. Brett Jewkes, vice president at NASCAR, discussed how the HP technology has enabled NASCAR to listen to what its fans are saying in real time and react to potential issues as they develop. Erickson talked about how HP uses the media center as a case study to show potential customers what is possible if a company has a desire to understand what is most important to customers and then the power to fix it.  

San Francisco Bay Area Super Bowl Host Committee – Keith Bruce, CEO and President of the San Francisco Bay Area Super Bowl Host Committee, talked about the role of the committee as not only the eyes and ears of the NFL but also the arms and legs. When asked how Super Bowl 50 was going to be different or better than previous championship games, Bruce shared the committee’s goal to be the most philanthropic Super Bowl to date. The organization has already committed to donate 25 percent of every dollar raised to the Super Bowl 50 Legacy Fund to support local high-performing charities.  

PGA Tour – Brian Oliver, Vice President of title sponsor relations for the PGA Tour, was asked to answer questions about how the PGA has continued to deliver its customers a better website experience. Oliver shared that was original designed with being mobile-friendly as the top priority. Recently, the website hit a milestone of more than 50 percent of visitors coming to the site via mobile devices. He believes this metric will continue to increase in the future.  

Sprint – Steve Gaffney, Vice President of corporate marketing at Sprint, was one of the first people that I met with Sprint/Nextel in 2004 and, since then, he has been a valued customer. During the conference, Gaffney spoke on a panel regarding relevant and meaningful experiences through sports and technology. He shared how guests today believe it is their divine right to have amazing high speed service at all times, without exception, in every venue. As arenas like the Barclays Center in Brooklyn give its customers faster bandwidth speeds with better service the expectation of visitors is that every other venue should also be delivering that experience regardless of infrastructure limitations or cost. This always evolving expectation continues to challenge technology providers and venues at a faster rate than they are able to keep pace with or find funding for.   

This year’s event closed by asking the panel what they think we will be talking about in five years and the answers varied. I believe that five years from now the topics being discussed at the Intersport Activation Summit will largely revolve around customized experiences for event attendees and how to get consumers watching television again as more and more households cut the cord.   

I am greatly looking forward to the next Sports Business Journal networking event and I hope that I will see you there.