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Event Recap: Women in Sports Marketing

A panel of industry leaders shares experiences with the sold out crowd. Photo by Trevor Graves

A panel of industry leaders shares experiences with the sold out crowd. Photo by Trevor Graves

What do you want to be when you grow up?

No matter what your age, it’s always fun to think about what you want to do for a living. Whether it’s a first career, a new career or a career shift, you can look to a group of  remarkable women who are forging new paths and establishing themselves as role models in the sports world.

Wednesday night at the Red Bull headquarters in Santa Monica, a group of almost 250  women who are sports marketing professionals, athletes,  brand managers and students gathered for the Second Annual Women in Business event Business presented by Tadpole Marketing, in partnership with Stanton & Company.

Designed as a networking event to inspire individuals through the contributions of influential women in sports marketing, Women in Business featured a panel of some of the most highly regarded women in sports marketing, including Laura Gentile, VP of espnW for ESPN, Olympic softball player Jessica Mendoza, president of the Women’s Sports Foundation, Mary O’Connor, director of Olympic Marketing at The Marketing Arm, Carolyn Deighan Coyne, Tadpole Marketing founder,  Julie Solwold, VP of global sports marketing for Paul Mitchell, Amy Stanton, founder and CEO of Stanton & Company and Diane Thibert, director of global PR for Oakley. Additionally, Amy Swift Crosby of SMARTY moderated the event.

The evening kicked off with a networking hour featuring dinner by Chipotle (a personal fave) and Red Bull cocktails.  Vanguard Records recording artist, Daphne Willis treated the crowd to live acoustic performances which was a bonus for music lovers – especially fans of indie singer/songwriters.

When the formal session began, the audience got a chance to learn about the panelists, how they came to have their current jobs and what a typical work day is like for them. Not surprisingly, no two stories were the same.  Some of the women took the traditional route of college, grad school and internships while others fell into their jobs more serendipitously.  A chance meeting on an airplane or at a sports event helped launched the career of more than one  woman on the panel. Their days are jam-packed, often chaotic, filled with meetings, travel, strategic planning and sometimes juggling families and personal lives. Not surprisingly,  no two days are ever the same.

Not all the panelists were/are athletes but the majority played a sport in high school and college and credited that experience as beneficial in their current jobs.  Jess Mendoza,  a professional softball player who also works as a TV commentator and is President of the Women’s Sports Foundation, talked about batting averages and explained that hitting .300 (a good stat) means failing seven out of 10 tries.  Learning to deal with failure has helped her deal with the curve balls of life that are often thrown.  Her motto? Bring it on.

When asked about the State of the Union for women in business all the panelists agreed that’s it’s a good time to be a woman.  In different ways, they all said it’s important to create your own destiny, follow your passion, make a difference and represent. Don’t be afraid to make your voice heard was a common piece of advice.

Amy Stanton, a panelist as well as organizer of the event, stressed being innovative when searching for solutions to problems.  As one of the few professionals who focuses on helping market female athletes, Stanton practices what she preaches and points to clients like Gretchen Bleiler as well as Jess Mendoza as examples of athletes who have successfully leveraged their athletic careers via creative marketing.

So what’s hot? What’s on the horizon for 2010? All the panelists were encouraged by forecasts and believe this year will be a positive one.  Technology will remain hot and ESPN’s Laura Gentile believes mobile apps and wireless platforms will be growth sectors. Julie Solwold of Paul Mitchell, a company long known for innovation and out-of-the-box thinking, is keeping an eye on free-skiing and hip hop :-)  and Stanton believes customized products will gain popularity.

Following the panel, audience members had the  opportunity to break out into smaller groups with panelists and find out more about their brands, corporate plans and even their personal journeys. This was a great opportunity to gain more in depth knowledge about a panelist or company as well as meet some of the other attendees.

At the end of the evening  Stanton noted, “Women naturally want to support and help each other and this was an event created to make that possible. It was an inspiring evening and I feel fortunate to have been part of it.”


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