Cowboys Marketer Shares Winning Game Plans
Sports Business Veteran Featured at Promotion of New Undergraduate Degree
Oct. 15, 2010
Even when the Dallas Cowboys fumble through a season, the blue star on their silver helmets still shines brightly. Why? The power of marketing.
Years of building on their success, on and off the field, have helped make “America’s team” the most financially successful NFL franchise in the world, according to Forbes magazine, with an annual revenue of $280 million and an estimated worth of $1.6 billion.
What sells the Cowboys is the sizzle, and an important behind-the-scenes player shared some secrets on how the team creates it recently at the UT Dallas School of Management. Speaking to about 200 students, Cowboys’ media development and sales director Craig Zurek, said companies skilled in brand strategy continually build on their success.
Zurek’s talk capped a two-day Atrium Fair to promote the school’s new undergraduate marketing degree with the theme “Go Pro … Get a Bachelor of Science in Marketing.”
“If you can get attention in the world of marketing, you win, and if you hold their attention, you win again,” Zurek said.
Of course it doesn’t hurt when you’re working for one of the most recognized franchises in the world, and it hurts even less when the team is winning, Zurek told the crowd. “When you work for the Cowboys, your calls get answered,” he said, even if the caller starts the conversation with “I want to talk to you about Tony Romo” rather than marketing talk.
The key to success is to keep always and everything out of your lexicon, underpromise and overdeliver, have strong ideas and pitch them, he said.
“Say, ‘I have a great idea and a way to improve your business.’ … Everything you do in marketing makes someone better at their jobs,” Zurek said. Zurek, whose numerous promotions have included a Frank Zappa look-alike contest, for a radio station, has 30 years of media and marketing experience. He has worked for local radio, network radio and the Texas Motor Speedway. He has joined the UT Dallas Marketing Advisory Board.
Undergraduate Marketing Program Director Julie Haworth said Zurek was a hit with students. “He was interesting, realistic and hopeful,” she said. “In talking to our students afterward, they all agreed that he was indeed inspirational. They liked the fact that he actually came from a non-traditional background (military) and emphasized the importance of obtaining a college degree.”
“Marketing is a science, and if you follow the science, you will be successful,” Zurek told the audience. Successful marketing translates to the bottom line as a company’s brand gains broader recognition, he said.
“You may buy a pair of shoes from a discounter, but at some point you’re going to think about going back to Nike, Adidas and New Balance because they are marketed and their images are prominent,” Zurek said.
Sports marketing provides practitioners a unique positioning opportunity that establishes an emotional connection with consumers, says Zurek. Music changes, clothing trends change, but the “Cowboys are cradle to grave.”
Craig Zurek said companies skilled in brand strategy continually build on their successes.
About 200 students turned out to hear Zurek as part of the “Go Pro … Get a Bachelor of Science in Marketing” event.
Marketing Students Call the Plays
This summer, students in Undergraduate Marketing Program Director Julie Haworth’s Product and Branding class chose sports marketing as their theme for the marketing fair because it had the widest appeal.
More than 300 students attended the fair to visit various booths promoting the new marketing undergraduate degree program, sign up for drawings and hear Zurek’s presentation.
“Once the sports marketing theme was selected, the class came up with the “Go Pro” slogan,” Haworth said. “It’s a good slogan because it essentially says ‘You can go professional’ with your interests, passions, abilities and strengths whether those strengths focus on being analytical, creative, strategic or having strong communication skills.”
Haworth’s goal is to enroll 100 students in the marketing bachelor’s program’s first year and grow the program 10 percent annually. Before fall 2010, students could get only a marketing concentration in the bachelor’s in business administration program. So far, nearly 200 students are pursuing marketing degrees at UT Dallas, Haworth said.
“We also signed up 35 students to be UT Dallas sports marketers for the American Marketing Association. The AMA will handle this group, but in general the group will put a marketing plan together to promote UT Dallas sports,” Haworth said.