What: Former Golden State Warriors president and current Miami Marlins president of business operations Chip Bowers discussed the team’s challenges with Scout Sports managing partner Michael Neuman at Portada Miami last week.
Why it matters: The Marlins are facing a huge rebuild, and have decided to look outside of baseball for a blueprint.
The acquisition of impact the new-look Miami Marlins (@Marlins) might not only be coming through the trades of All-Stars like Marcell Osuna and Giancarlo Stanton, it may be coming through of all places, the World Champion… Golden State Warriors (@warriors)?
That might sound strange to baseball fans and the Marlins faithful, but from a business perspective the leadership team, starting with Derek Jeter, went outside the organization, and outside of baseball, to bring in former Warriors president Chip Bowers to turn the fortunes of the business side of the team around, and most importantly, get a club that had lost touch not just with the South Florida community but with the baseball-loving and growing Latino community, back in the fold.
Bowers believes that best practices he has experienced at Golden State and other places, combined with a fresh start for the Marlins brand and a unified sense of communication strategy, will lead to brighter days ahead
Bowers, just a few months into the job, made one of his first public appearances this past week at Portada Miami, when he sat down with and Portada Sports board member and Executive Vice President, Managing Partner, Scout Sports and Entertainment (a division of Horizon Media) Michael Neuman to talk about the challenges and the opportunities that lie ahead for their franchise and for baseball in general in South Florida.
“Our goals are pretty clear,” Bowers said before a packed ballroom of brand marketers and agency heads at the East Hotel Thursday morning. “We need to build trust, align with right partners, make bold promises, and deliver on what we say.” A good part of that trust, he added, will have to come in the Latino community not just in South Florida but across the Americas, a community that has become disillusioned with the former ownership group, and has also raised a few eyebrows as the current group has started their reorganization that included trading away of some of the teams veteran Latino stars.
Still with all that in mind, Bowers believes that best practices he has experienced at Golden State and other places, combined with a fresh start for the Marlins brand and a unified sense of communication strategy, will lead to brighter days ahead, and those days, at least from a marketing standpoint, are already underway as the first part of the MLB (@MLB) season gets cranking.
“We have such a diverse fan base here in South Florida that the possibilities to engage and grow our presence at all levels are very strong,” he added. “However coming with that opportunity is the reality that we have to market to a Puerto Rican audience differently in some ways than a Cuban audience, or a Dominican audience a little differently than a Mexican audience. The commonality is the baseball experience. That’s what we need to exploit.”
Bowers pointed out that the outreach in Miami and the surrounding communities isn’t much different than what the Warriors did with ethnic groups in the Bay Area, even before the team rose to the on-court heights it is experiencing now. “We saw from our data, and from our community work, that we had great numbers of Latinos, Chinese, Mexicans, Koreans, who were fans of not just basketball but of the Warriors themselves, and we had to find ways to market to those communities. It took time but we found programs and brand partners that made sense, and the result was a brand impact not just at our games, but back in the communities abroad where those fans resided originally. They communicated that affinity to friends and relatives in countries around the world, and as a result, we (The Warriors) built a global fan base that has come along with the team for years, and continues to grow and present new opportunities for all those associated with the team.
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Like at Golden State, Bowers sees the same opportunity for the Marlins, especially given the proximity to so many Latino countries who love baseball, and the brands associated with the sport. “If we deliver we can become Latin Americas team, he said. “We can bring an all-encompassing multicultural multiplatform experience that will expand baseball’s reach beyond what it is today.”
That effort of course starts in South Florida, and involves rebuilding the trust with disenfranchised fans and businesses. The bad news is apathy was high the last few years. The good news is there is only one way to go; up. With that upward rise are great opportunities to create low cost, high impact partnerships and ticketing programs that will have casual fans embracing the Marlins as a lifestyle brand off the field as the transformation on the field takes shape in the coming years. It may be a bit slow and bumpy across the summer of 2018, but the long term outlook, Bowers added, can be very bright.
“We have a unified vision and an aggressive stance that is telling everyone we are open for business and want to find ways big and small to work with you,” he concluded. “Now we have to make sure we stay focused, aggressive and deliver on what we can control, and what we say we are going to do. I’m as excited for this chance as any I have had in my career, and the turnaround here is already underway.”
The turnaround, and the track record of the new Marlins President is good news not just for South Florida baseball fans, but for MLB and its legions of brand marketers that are looking to embrace the sport either again or for the first time, not just in Miami but throughout Latin America.
While the All-Stars on the field develop, the Marlins business side will look to be scoring on their own, and with a new vision and an aligned mission, wins in business should be in the offing.