Marketing for an NFL team can mean a lot of different things.
The workload for the Baltimore Ravens Marketing Department includes developing the team’s annual campaigns, managing the band, mascot and cheerleading squad, organizing youth football clinics, hosting major fan events like Flock Festival and A Purple Evening, running in-stadium activities on gameday, designing the team’s print advertising, and much, much more. Everything the marketing department does is done as part of a big-picture effort to reach and engage with the fans.
“The overall goal is to grow the fan base,” Vice President of Marketing Brad Downs said.
Here is the group behind that work.
The marketing department has 13 full-time employees, but hundreds of people work with the group over the course of the season. Band Director John Zeimann, Cheerleading Coordinator Tina Galdieri and Mascot Coordinator Brandon Williams play a significant role for the marketing team, and throwing major events like Flock Festival, Beach Bash or Kickoff Week require many hands. The marketing staff also grows to about 250 employees every gameday after considering the band, cheerleaders, mascot, and even the team birds, Rise and Conquer.
The department is essentially broken into two groups. Half of the department covers the traditional advertising/branding component, and the other side focuses specifically on fan engagement. The advertising side develops the message behind the Ravens brand, such as the 2017 season campaign, “Together.” The fan engagement side focuses on events and outreach.
“Our core demographic is really everyone,” Downs said. “We constantly look for ways to create deeper levels of engagement with our fan base.”
The 10 home games each year are clearly the marquee events on the calendar. But those games really just scratch the surface in terms of all the events the marketing department handles. This group also organizes events like A Purple Evening, Beach Bash, Flock Festival, Kickoff Week, cheerleader tryouts, band practice, youth football clinics, seven-on-seven tournaments and more.
“All of those events have a rhyme or reason, within the ultimate goal of engaging with the fan base, beyond just our 10 home games,” Downs said. “We try to target different segments of our fan base with our events. Gameday is so broad in what we do, and these events give us a chance to create a deeper engagement.”
A huge item for the marketing department ever year is training camp. They organize the open stadium practices and fan attendance at the Under Armour Performance Center. Facility construction will prevent having guests in Owings Mills this year, but the team is holding three free, open practices (two at M&T Bank Stadium and another in Annapolis) where they expect more than 40,000 fans to attend.
When gameday arrives, it’s all hands on deck.
“Everybody touches gameday is some shape or form. Everybody has a gameday contribution to make,” Downs said. “The No. 1 charge on gameday is really to enhance the atmosphere to provide a memorable experience to everyone in the building."
The workday starts early on Sundays. A big responsibility is to prepare Ravens Walk, which is the path connecting M&T Bank Stadium and Camden Yards. Ravens Walk is the area for many of the team’s sponsorship activations on gameday, as well as a popular destination for fans to stop in during their pre-game tailgates.
For a 1 p.m. game, members of the marketing department arrive at 6 a.m. to start the day. Along with the help of a large group of gameday interns, the marketing team sets up tables, booths and staging. The marketing team also coordinates with sponsors to fulfill any corporate obligations for their executions, and plans the logistics for any players returning to be honored.
By the time tailgaters start pouring into the parking lots, Ravens Walk is ready to go. And then as soon as the game kicks off, the teardown outside the stadium begins.
Much of what fans see on gameday – beyond the actual teams on the field – comes from the marketing department. The band, cheerleaders, National Anthem and halftime entertainment all fall under the marketing department’s umbrella.
Coordinating all of those moving pieces is a tall order. It requires someone on the field to ensure everything runs smoothly. It’s a bit of a puzzle. They know down to the second when pre-game introductions, the National Anthem and commercial breaks must happen. The know exactly how much time they have for halftime entertainment like the band or Frisbee dogs, and they find ways to do all of that in a tight window of a football game.
“It’s really doing as much to enhance the gameday experience and give our fans memories they can’t get watching the game on TV. You can’t see the cheerleaders on TV, you don’t hear the atmosphere the band contributes to, you can’t get a picture with the mascot,” Downs said. “Those are the things that we’re really focused on – what can’t you get at home that you can get at the stadium.”