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Friday, October 22, 2021

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Students in SDSU's Sports MBA program listen to Anaheim Ducks executives at the Honda Center in February Students in SDSU's Sports MBA program listen to Anaheim Ducks executives at the Honda Center in February
 


Real World Experience Breaks the Ice

Students in SDSU’s Sports MBA program had the opportunity to pitch their marketing and corporate partnership ideas to executives of the Anaheim Ducks.
By Fowler College of Business News Team
 

“Knowing that their activation plans would be evaluated by industry professionals who do partnerships and sponsorships for a major league franchise set high expectations for the students.”

For the third consecutive year, San Diego State University Sports MBA (SMBA) students partnered with a professional ice hockey franchise to develop a marketing strategy. 

In 2018, students examined potential marketing partnerships for the San Diego Gulls at Pechanga Arena. Last year’s cohort worked on activation plans for two of the Pittsburgh Penguins' sponsors, and presented their recommendations to two SMBA alumni who work in the club's corporate partnerships department.

This year, the Class of 2021 collaborated with the National Hockey League’s Anaheim Ducks, working with two SDSU Sports MBA program alumni in the club's front office, Vice President of Corporate Partnerships Graham Siderius (SMBA '07) and Corporate Partnerships Analyst Forrest Lockwood (SMBA '18). 

"It always helps to have dedicated alumni like Forrest and Graham give honest and transparent feedback on student work, and in the case of this project, it was important to get an insider's view of how sports teams are handling this pandemic," said Scott Minto (SMBA '06), Sports MBA program director.   
  
The two discussed how the Ducks' current partners activate outside the arena and on the concourse, and the Honda Center's concessions offerings. They also examined signage and dasher boards with students. 

The Sports MBA students were tasked with exploring options for potential partners in the grocery category, choosing from either traditional brick-and-mortar locations in Southern California or selecting from a variety of emerging grocery delivery companies. 

“The course places special emphasis on understanding sponsorships and partnerships in sports and, frankly, there is no better way to learn it than experiential learning opportunities like this project,” said Vassilis Dalakas, professor of the course.

The class spent several months researching demographic statistics on Anaheim Ducks fans, comparing them to other sports organizations in the Los Angeles and Orange County market, as well as drafting sponsorship ideas to leverage and activate an official Ducks grocery partnership in marketing pitches aimed at  shoppers throughout the region. 

The students' creativity was on full display, as groups presented a wide range of ideas including cooking and trivia contests and clever activations such as a hockey goal grocery conveyor belt and youth hockey practice grocery delivery on demand.
    
“Knowing that their activation plans would be evaluated by industry professionals who do partnerships and sponsorships for a major league franchise set high expectations for the students,” said Dalakas. “It was especially rewarding to see them make a conscious effort to offer fresh new ideas in their activation plans.”

Students pitched their ideas in a dress rehearsal presentation to Dalakas and SMBA alumna Amy Wesson (SMBA '17) of the Pittsburgh Penguins, who represented the client in last year's class presentations. On May 21-22, students presented their ideas via Zoom to Siderius and Lockwood, who critiqued the students' ideas and evaluated their practicality in a "real world" sponsorship proposal. 

Both Siderius and Lockwood commented on the professionalism of the students' presentation decks, noting that many mockup giveaway items and promotional products featuring Wild Wing, the team's anthropomorphic duck mascot, were Photoshopped well enough to look nearly authentic. 

“It’s no small feat to create a partnership proposal from scratch and pitch it to an NHL franchise. We consistently strive to create dynamic, attention-grabbing, and mutually successful partnerships with our corporate partners here at the Ducks and Honda Center, and the SMBA students fully grasped that concept and ran with it,” said Lockwood. “I was very impressed with the students’ attention to detail, their research, and their creativity in putting together these proposals.”