In the span of a couple months early last year, the Cleveland Browns filled two key roles on their business team.In late January 2020, Mike Mosshol
In the span of a couple months early last year, the Cleveland Browns filled two key roles on their business team.
In late January 2020, Mike Mossholder was named the chief revenue and marketing officer of Haslam Sports Group, which operates the Browns and Columbus Crew. Mossholder had been the chief business officer and a parter at Vision Venture Partners, a California-based venture capital firm that includes former NBA player Rick Fox as one of its founding partners.
In March, a week after the Browns became a remote operation because of the pandemic, Dino Bernacchi joined the organization as senior vice president of marketing and media. Bernacchi had been the chief marketing officer for Mazda’s North American operations, and he’s had prominent roles at Harley-Davidson and General Motors.
“When you are working with an iconic brand, you have to make sure that anything that you adjust is done with respect and with the knowledge that you’re going to bring something to the fanbase that they’re going to embrace and it’s going to be additive to them,” Mossholder told Crain’s. “You don’t make change just to make change when you have an iconic brand.”
This week’s issue of Crain’s included a cover story on how the Browns’ digital numbers soared during their best season in 26 years. The club also has reached its season-ticket cap of about 60,000 and expects to enter the 2022 sales cycle with a waiting list of more than 10,000.
Last year, the Browns adjusted their sales cycle, launching an early renewal window for season-ticket holders that ran from Nov. 11 to Dec. 6. The first of two season-ticket renewal phases now starts during the season, when the fans’ “avidity is the highest,” Mossholder said.
The Browns also rearranged their overall business schedule. By July 31, the creative elements, business analytics and “master mapping” will be set up for the 2022 season, the team’s chief revenue and marketing officer said.
What that means, the former UFC executive VP of global marketing partnerships said, is the analytics and digital teams supply the corporate partnership and ticketing teams with everything they need to be prepared for the advanced sales cycle. A premium partner such as Meijer, then, will have the creative elements it needs to set up displays at its stores should the team qualify for the playoffs for the second consecutive year.
“We’re going to plan for (on-field) success, No. 1,” Mossholder said, when asked how the business calendar was being adjusted.
“Even though it’s a season that runs roughly from August to February, we have all of these moments in time,” Mossholder said. “And the avidity of the fanbase, they want to digest (Browns content) 12 months of the year. With this cycle, we’re going to build upon it and we’re going to be prepared for it with master planning.”
The NFL calendar — with the Super Bowl quickly followed by free agency, which then gives way to draft hype and eventually to training camp — is a marketer’s dream, Bernacchi said.
“It’s an ongoing content machine, and an opportunity to offer our fans insight, information and content about this team all year ’round,” the senior VP of marketing and media said.
Almost showtime for Crew at new stadium
The Columbus Crew, which Haslam Sports Group operates with the Edwards family of Columbus, had planned to update its branding and change the Major League Soccer club’s name to Columbus SC. Within a week last month, though, the team reversed course after the changes drew significant backlash from fans — most notably among the Nordecke supporters group.
“Ownership sat with them and listened to them, and we came to a collective agreement that was the greater good for the organization,” Mossholder said. “Nobody dug their heels in on either side. There was some thoughts of adjusting some things around the branding, but that (Nordecke) group came to us with well-thought-out thought processes of how they would like the brand to be thought of moving forward, and ownership agreed with it. And we were able to move forward and have a great partnership.”
Mossholder, who worked in sales and marketing for the Tampa Bay Mutiny from 1995-2002, says he’s a “Day One Major League Soccer person.”
On July 3, the Crew will debut New Crew Stadium, a $314 million facility that Mossholder said will be the best in MLS.
“When that fanbase comes into that building, I promise you they’re going to be overwhelmed,” he said.
Jocelyn Gates moves from BC to OSU
Jocelyn Gates, the better half of Cleveland State men’s basketball coach Dennis Gates, has landed a prominent position at Ohio State.
The Buckeyes on Monday, June 7, announced Gates as a new senior associate director of athletics. Gates had been a senior associate director of athletics and senior woman administrator at Boston College. In her new job, she will have administrative oversight of Ohio State’s football program.
At BC, Gates had direct oversight of the women’s basketball, women’s soccer, and men’s and women’s golf programs. In 2020, she was honored as the NCAA Division I FBS Nike Administrator of the Year.
In Columbus, she will be the liaison to the offices of compliance and student-athlete support services, and university partners, OSU said. Gates also will be in charge of the athletic department’s diversity and inclusion efforts, and she will have oversight of “an additional sport,” the university said.
“We are extremely proud of you!” Gates tweeted.