Karl Keating: Exploring the World of Sports Brand Marketing - Work in Sports Podcast e094

Karl Keating, Brand lead for Nike's House of Hoops joins the show to discuss international sports marketing, the challenges of leading teams and the various corporate cultures in sports apparel and lifestyle. 

Hi everybody I’m Brian Clapp Director of Content for WorkinSports.com and this is the Work in Sports podcast…

The Silicon Valley is a pretty well-known technology hub in California, maybe you’ve heard of it.

 Google, Adobe, Apple, Facebook, Cisco, Oracle, Netflix, PayPal, Yahoo and hundreds more tech companies all residing in the southern San Francisco bay area.

The region has become identified for their tech personality. And their expensive real estate. The average sale price of a home sold is about $1.440 million – that is nuts.exploring the world fo sports brand marketing

That right there is enough to tell me, no thanks, I don’t want to start a career in tech and be forced to live in an area that’ll put me in debt for the next two generations.

Now let’s put that same lens on the sports industry – is there a region that you think of when you think of sports?

With teams spread out across the nation, it’s hard to pinpoint an area that is synonymous to the sports industry. Say New York and LA is gonna get pissed. Claim Dallas and Chicago is going to revolt.

Most leagues and major organizations have corporate headquarters in New York so they may have the best argument, but I’m going to go in a different direction with the discussion. Just up the coastline from the Silicon Valley is what could be called the Sporting Goods Forest.

Portland, Oregon.

Home to Nike, Adidas, Under Armour, Columbia Sportswear, Keen footwear and many other sports lifestyle brands.

The northwest has become the hub for a very large segment of the sports industry.  

Walk down the street on a weekend, or go to a high school or college campus --  look around how often do you see Nike, Under Armour or Adidas gear…pretty often right?

Nike made 32 billion in sales revenue in 2016

Adidas 14 billion

Under Armour 4.3 billion

Nike is the supreme leader…but the other two are in the billions so don’t shed a tear.

The point is, if you want to work in sports product marketing, branding, design, digital marketing, public relations, media relations and a host of other big business sports jobs – the Portland area may be worth migrating towards.

Oh and the extra good news – the average price of a home in Portland is 430k…much more affordable.

All this brings us to today’s guest – Karl Keating, Brand Lead for the House of Hoops Nike joint retail venture with Foot Locker.

Karl has worked in Portland for both adidas and Nike… two of the big boys…but his experience isn’t limited to just Portland…or even just the US…Karl has ventured abroad to work in Germany and the Netherlands, adding international marketing experience to his portfolio – he’s a wealth of information, so let’s get to it already – here’s Karl Keating:


Inspirational Videos Shares by Karl Keating:


The Art of Innovation: Guy Kawasaki: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mtjatz9r-Vc
Warsaw Sports Marketing Center, University of Oregon


Questions for Karl Keating, Nike Brand Lead for House of Hoops


1:  Let’s start with the basics – tell us a little more about your journey to end up in sports marketing on a global stage, and specifically why you entered the world of sports apparel & lifestyle brands like adidas and Nike.

2: You received your MBA from University of Oregon with an emphasis in sports marketing – The Northwest, and more specifically the Portland region, has turned into a hub of sorts for the sports lifestyle and apparel brands adidas, Nike, Columbia, Keen and many others are in the area – you got your start at adidas, how much of an asset was it to get your MBA right in the backyard?

3:  Let’s talk about that first role with adidas – you interned there and then were offered a full time role as a Brand Marketing Communication Specialist -- why do you think adidas hired you on full-time, what did you do to impress or to earn that role?

4: I read through your bio and I see creative activations all over the place. At adidas you were in charge of engaging and exciting the high school consumer, at Nike you led the brand execution for Nike Golf in Europe and then the House of Hoops – from a marketing perspective, how do you stimulate creativity? Does it all come naturally to you, or do you have a process that helps the creative ideas flow?

5: Let’s talk about corporate culture – it is a buzzword in a way, a term people throw around but probably don’t spend much time really thinking about. How does corporate culture change from business to business… like from adidas to Nike, and also since you’ve worked internationally from country to country, like from the US to Amsterdam?

6: You’ve led major global marketing initiatives in Golf, in Basketball, the Olympics, running, World Cup 2010 and more – how important is versatility and an ability to do the job no matter what the sport?

7: I spoke with Chris Valente who is the Director of Sales for the Boston Red Sox a few weeks back, and he kept saying, sales jobs are deeply rooted in marketing, that he spends most of his time coming up with campaigns and ways to elevate brands. Do you feel the same way – that sales and marketing are more interconnected than ever? 

8: I’m stealing this right from one of your recommendations on LinkedIN – a former co-worker wrote of you “Karl's calm and approachable nature and willingness to make decisions make him the guy you want on your team.”

We’ve all come across smart people, who are unable to make decisions and commit to a direction -- how important is being decisive and willing to make informed decisions?

9: This co-worker also said you are calm and approachable, which leans into a question that came from fan of the show Kadeem Pilgrim via our private facebook group – he wants to know if you mentor people and help develop young people in the marketing world? And if so, what is your approach to helping others grow?

10: Another question comes in from Wyatt Phillips – Wyatt wants to know how data and research help determine how you will effectively appeal to your audience, and what type of research you utilize?

11: We’ll finish up with this – sports marketing is such a broad section of the industry, if someone came up to you and said “I’d love to work at Nike some day in marketing” – what specific advice would you give them to set them on the right path?

By Brian Clapp | June 20, 2018
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