The Future Of Sports Marketing With Learfield’s Jennifer Davis

Jennifer Davis is the chief marketing and communications officer at Learfield, which has been around for over 50 years. Learfield works with intercollegiate athletics of the U.S. They offer licensing, multimedia sponsorship management, publishing, audio digital, and social media, data analytics, ticketing, tickets, sales, professional concessions, expertise, branding, and campus-wide business and sponsorship development, as well as venue technology systems for many of the college athletic programs in the United States and the greater ecosystem.

In this episode, Jennifer and I discuss college sports and the big business behind them. We also talk about Jennifer’s role transition through the pandemic and how she wrote a book called Well-Made Decisions during that transition.

Listen to find out more about why marketers should spend more energy on the decisions they make and how sports marketing plays into the future.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • Spend more energy on making decisions
  • How marketers can partner with sports organizations
  • The opportunity for growth within sports marketing

Key Highlights

  • [02:20] About Jennifer’s book
  • [04:04] Where Jennifer got her start
  • [05:45] What is Learfield?
  • [08:33] The first 100 days of onboarding
  • [11:44] Current trends in college sports
  • [18:51] What are collegiate e-sports?
  • [23:54] The growth of B2B brands in sports marketing
  • [28:44] How athletes are able to market themselves
  • [34:54] An experience that defines Jennifer, makes her who she is
  • [39:14] Jennifer’s advice to her younger self
  • [41:43] What marketers should be learning more about
  • [44:12] The brands and organizations Jennifer follows
  • [45:48] The biggest threat and opportunity for marketers

Resources Mentioned:

Connect with the guest:

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Connect with Marketing Today and Alan Hart:

Alan B. Hart is the creator and host of “Marketing Today with Alan Hart,” a weekly podcast where he interviews leading global marketing professionals and business leaders. Alan advises leading executives and marketing teams on brand, customer experience, innovation, and growth opportunities. He has consulted with Fortune 100 companies, but he is an entrepreneur at his core, having founded or served as an executive for nine companies.

Burger King CMO Ellie Doty Departs

A look at the marketing moves from the past few days, including the official departure of Ellie Doty from Burger King.

Burger King CMO Ellie Doty Departs

Joining Burger King in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic in June 2020, Ellie Doty is leaving the burger chain after less than 2 years. During her brief tenure, Doty made some big impacts at Burger King, including serving as the company’s interim president. Doty led a brand overhaul in January 2021—the company’s first in 20 years—and a loyalty program, while overseeing $400 million in cross-channel marketing spend.

Toyota Australia CMO To Lead Lexus Australia as CEO

John Pappas is taking the reins as Lexus Australia CEO. A long-time marketer in the auto space, Pappas most recently held the title of CMO for Toyota Australia since July 2020.

“I am really excited to build on the strong momentum for Lexus, supported by stunning new models including our first all-electric vehicle, UX 300e, the upcoming all-new NX range, and the next-generation flagship LX SUV.”

Melissa Waters Joins Upwork As CMO

Here’s what’s happening this week in the world of executive marketing moves, including news that gig work platform Upwork looks to capitalize on growth amid global workforce shifts with their new CMO, Melissa Waters.

Upwork Names Melissa Waters Chief Marketing Officer

Upwork has landed Melissa Waters as CMO, who previously held the global vice president of marketing at Instagram, part of Meta, as well as past roles at Lyft and Pandora.

“In 2022, our strategy remains laser-focused on continuing to innovate, evangelize, and scale the world’s work marketplace – the career platform for every skilled worker, and every business, regardless of employment type and geography. Melissa’s deep expertise in helping high-growth companies scale, establish new categories, and build world-class brands is key to increasing awareness of Upwork and capitalizing on our $1.3 trillion total addressable market opportunity. We couldn’t be more thrilled for her to join the team,” said Upwork CEO Hayden Brown in a press release.

Kravet Brings Aboard Ex-Condé Nast Executive To Helm Marketing

Home furnishings company Kravet has brought on Kim Fasting Berg as chief marketing officer. Fasting Berg previously oversaw strategy, branding and marketing for Condé Nast publishing brands Vogue, GQ, Vanity Fair and Allure.

Former EasyJet/Bulb Energy CMO Joins MoneySuperMarket

As the brand looks to a relaunch, Lis Blair, former CMO of EasyJet and Bulb Energy has joined as general manager of insurance, marketing and customer operations.

Rene Villegas Named CMO of Starry

Broadband internet company Starry has landed Rene Villegas as CMO. Previously, Villegas held as head of marketing and sales role at Amazon for “Subscribe with Amazon.”

E Automotive Names First-Ever CMO

Emma Weisberg, former executive at Waze and Google, joins the automotive digital-commerce site E Automotive as their first-ever CMO.

Halo Collective Brings Aboard New CMO

Publically-traded cannabis company Halo Collective brings aboard cannabis industry veteran Sky Pinnick as chief marketing officer.

“I’ve been entrenched in brand building for the past couple decades and I’m excited to join Halo’s progressive team as we focus on expanding operations in Oregon and California,” commented Mr. Pinnick in a press release.

Trend Set: Spoiler-Free Spider-Man

Ayzenberg Junior Strategist Ashley Otah recounts this week’s trends including TikTok’s new feature tests, Spider-man spoiler avoidance and Megan Thee Stallion’s graduation.


Feature frenzy. TikTok is testing a desktop streaming software titled TikTok Live Studio to a select group. The streaming software allows users to stream to TikTok Live after login, akin to Twitch and other game streaming outlets. As users continue to crave essential attributes across different platforms, the testing of this feature highlights the benefit of having interfaces that allow users to utilize a single platform as a central hub. Previously, the act of cloning features or in-app experiences seemed more widespread. Still, TikTok’s ability to adjust accordingly as consumer habits change quickly further underscores that showing up uniquely as a brand natively is becoming necessary to cut through the noise.

Megan Thee Stallion

Thee graduate. Megan Jovon Ruth Pete, known professionally as Megan Thee Stallion, graduated from Texas Southern University on Saturday, December 11th. The Grammy-award winning rapper, songwriter, and now college graduate is schooling people on how to show up and show out. With a newly signed Netflix deal, among other accolades, there’s a reason she stays booked and busy. Celebrities, influencers, and partnerships don’t need to show up anyhow and everywhere. Instead, they must show up right. Companies, brands, and the like can better execute partnerships by having an accurate pulse on talent that is appropriately aligned and an eye for cultural moments that go beyond sales and marketing moments that the average consumer is not aware of.

Love Nwantiti

Music madness. A crazy year for the music industry is coming to an end, with notable moments across the chart. With recorded music revenue growth in the U.S. up 27% and TikTok citing more than 175 songs that trended on the platform also charting on the Billboard’s Hot 100, the future of music looks bright. A standout hit this year was Nigerian singer-songwriter Ckay’s ‘love nwantiti (ah ah ah)’ which garnered over a million video creations on TikTok and ranked #2 on Billboard’s Global 200 list. The song’s success reaffirms that the cross-cultural impact of music is undeniable and should not be an afterthought.

Audio-based Social

Audio, but make it social. In a study by Erin J. Newman and Norbert Schwarz, people rated a physicist 19.3% better when listening to him in high quality. The effects of different audio qualities shift how people judge the content which creates a new crossroads. Balancing the delicate line between high-quality yet not overly-produced work that consumers are leaning away from is a feat more will face as audio-based social booms.

Spider-man: No Way Home

No spoilers and no way home. Spider-man: No Way Home hits theaters, and fans are avoiding spoilers at all costs. A video released from the movie’s Twitter account has amassed five million-plus views and instructs viewers to stop reading comments, mute keywords, and even stay off social media. The highly anticipated release and subsequent directions about making the experience special for everyone indicate how marketing can move beyond just building upon promotion and into a community space.

New Doja Cat Music Video Introduces Coding Techniques

In an interactive microsite for her new music video “Woman,” Doja Cat partners with Girls Who Code to allow fans to unlock hidden features via coding for the first-ever codable music video. With 18 million views and counting so far, the collaboration is exposing many of Doja Cat’s young fans to coding for the first time.

The site introduces CSS, Javascript and Python to those who may not be familiar with coding and showcases their utility as a creative outlet my changing aspects like nail color and special effects through four different challenges that anyone can do.

In a press release, chief executive officer of Girls Who Code Tarika Barret said “[…] We know first-hand that girls and young women are some of today’s most powerful creators and change-makers. However, too few know that they can have a career in computer science, and that it can open up an entire future of possibility to nurturing their passions. Learning to code enables you to change the world around you […].”

You can view Doja Cat’s new video via

Trend Set: Spotify Wraps 2021, Square Becomes Block

Ayzenberg Junior Strategist Ashley Otah recounts this week’s trends including everyone’s favorite time of the year: Spotify Wrapped season!


Shifting shopping habits. Black Friday in-store shopping is up by 442%, with a 34% increase in orders through the Afterpay platform this holiday season year-over-year. These purchasing habits reach beyond fashion and beauty and seep into fitness, footwear, and more. With compounding factors such as supply chain issues, inflation, and more at play, shopping habits will continue to change, and brands must adjust accordingly.


The name game. Square, a financial services company, has recently changed its name to Block a month after Facebook’s move to Meta. The name change underscores companies’ need to redefine themselves as consumers are being inundated with campaigns, brand mission statements, and slews of products daily. The action may continue to be necessary for brands across many verticals to cut through the clutter and better reflect their purpose in real-time.

‘I Hate U’ SZA

TikTok made me listen to it. American singer and songwriter SZA officially releases a Soundcloud experiment thanks to the power of TikTok. The colossal rise is not the first instance a song has resurged, or an act has become prominent beyond the confines of the platform. The platform continues to be a space to watch as it has a heavy hand on cultural moments, including music. So much so, many songs nominated in major categories for the upcoming Grammys have gone viral on the TikTok platform.

Spotify Wrapped

Data done right. As the week rounds out for everyone’s favorite holiday (Spotify Wrapped), the discussion for the highly-anticipated round-up continues. The unique blend of product and experiential marketing has created a cultural moment many brands hope to achieve and even partake in. Although entrenched in user data, consumers feel connectivity and actively share their charts each year. As legislation passes and Google abandons third-party data in 2023, brands must strategically navigate information regarding their customers — a great way to do so is by making consumers feel their data is safe and included in the process.


Need for new policy. Twitter to ban sharing of private people’s videos and photos without consent. The platform will now let private individuals request takedowns of content featuring them. A significant step in how not only users but also brands interact with and navigate content and tracks with demands for privacy and transparency.

Candy Crush Appoints Fernanda Romano Chief Marketing Officer

This week in leadership updates, King has hired Fernanda Romano as Candy Crush’s chief marketing officer, Discord’s CMO Tesa Aragones exits, PepsiCo hires Jane Wakely as chief consumer and marketing officer and more.

Candy Crush Names Fernanda Romano Chief Marketing Officer

King has appointed Fernanda Romano chief marketing officer for its mobile game Candy Crush, according to Adweek.

Romano joins Candy Crush from Havaianas’ parent company Alpargatas where she served as vice president of marketing and global innovation.

Discord Chief Marketing Officer Tesa Aragones Exits

Discord’s chief marketing officer Tesa Aragones has stepped down after joining the company in September 2020. According to Forbes, chief executive Jason Citron will serve as interim chief marketing officer until a replacement is found.

PepsiCo Hires Jane Wakely As Chief Consumer And Marketing Officer

PepsiCo has named Mars Petcare veteran Jane Wakely as executive vice president, chief consumer and marketing officer and chief growth officer for their international foods division.

Lead chief marketing officer and chief marketing officer of pet nutrition was the most recent position Wakely held at Mars, where she worked for the past 20 years.

Scholastic Taps Mary Beech As Chief Marketing And Transformation Officer

Scholastic has appointed Mary Beech to the newly created role of chief marketing and transformation officer.

Beech has been an independent director on Scholastic’s Board since 2018, a role from which she’ll resign as she assumes her new position.

Beech most recently served as the chief executive officer of Sarah Flint and previously served as executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Kate Spade New York.

Candy Digital Appoints Andre Llewellyn Chief Marketing Officer

Candy Digital has named former Instagram global brand marketing manager Andre Llewellyn chief marketing officer.

As one of the first hires on Instagram’s brand marketing team, Llewellyn spearheaded the launches of Instagram Shopping and Instagram Stories.

He also led the development of real-time marketing and social strategy at Procter & Gamble while working on Tide.

Bringing Learning To Life With Author Kimberly Whitler

Kimberly Whitler is the Frank M. Sands Sr. Associate Professor of Business Administration at the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia

In this episode, Kim and I talk about the release of her new book Positioning for Advantage, which has been ranked number one in product management on Amazon. We also discuss what positioning is and what value marketers have to a business. Kim’s opinion is to keep it simple. She says, “I think a lot of marketing is about making the choices that put you in the best position to win. A big part of that is you have to execute effectively, and complication often is the enemy of being able to implement.” 

Later in the episode we also discuss influencers and how they can positively impact a business. Kim also shares her opinion on purpose and whether purpose may or may not be something your brand should be focused on.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • How to bring learning to real-life situations
  • Creating a sustainable advantage for your organization
  • How influencers can be a key element to a marketing plan

Key Highlights:

  • [01:34] Kim’s worst job ever
  • [03:05] From marketing practitioner to academia
  • [06:14] Why Kim wrote a book
  • [11:13] What do marketers contribute to firm performance? 
  • [13:12] Creating a sustainable advantage 
  • [15:11] Forcing marketing choices
  • [20:28] How Kim thinks about influencers
  • [25:11] Weaponizing word of mouth
  • [30:50] An experience that defines Kim, makes who she is today
  • [33:40] Kim’s advice to her younger self
  • [35:14] The brands and organizations Kim follows
  • [38:34] The biggest threat and opportunity for marketers today

Resources Mentioned: 

Follow the podcast:

Connect with the Guest:

Connect with Marketing Today and Alan Hart:

Alan B. Hart is the creator and host of “Marketing Today with Alan Hart,” a weekly podcast where he interviews leading global marketing professionals and business leaders. Alan advises leading executives and marketing teams on brand, customer experience, innovation, and growth opportunities. He has consulted with Fortune 100 companies, but he is an entrepreneur at his core, having founded or served as an executive for nine companies.

Visa Global Chief Marketing Officer Lynne Biggar Resigns

This week in leadership updates, Visa global chief marketing officer Lynne Biggar steps down, CarGurus replaces Sarah Welch with Dafna Sarnoff as chief marketing officer and Paramount elevates Marc Weinstock to run one unified domestic and foreign marketing division.

Visa Global Chief Marketing Officer Lynne Biggar Departs

Lynne Biggar will step down as Visa’s executive vice president and global chief marketing officer in early 2022 after having served in the role for six years.

Biggar previously worked at Time Inc. as executive vice president of consumer marketing and revenue after having spent over 21 years with American Express in various senior executive roles.

CarGurus Hires Dafna Sarnoff As Chief Marketing Officer

Dafna Sarnoff will replace Sarah Welch as CarGurus’ chief marketing officer on December 8, 2021.

Before joining CarGurus, Sarnoff served as chief marketing officer and other senior marketing leadership roles at Aura, Intersection, and Yodle.

Paramount Restructures Marketing Team With Marc Weinstock At The Helm

Paramount Pictures has tapped Marc Weinstock, worldwide marketing and distribution president, to lead a unified marketing and distribution as the company eliminates 44 positions.

The restructuring has caused the departure of Paramount executive vice president Cameron Saunders, who ran distribution and marketing for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Mary Daily, marketing co-president, worldwide marketing and distribution, has also exited.

Trend Set: Nike, Spotify, WeTransfer

A look at the trends shaping culture this week from Ayzenberg Jr. Strategist of Cultural Science Ashley Otah.


Game on. Warner Bros. Games has officially announced “MultiVersus,” a platform fighter game that allows iconic characters and worlds to collide like never before. The free-to-play game follows a similar pattern of collaboration where previously there might have been pushback (i.e., Gucci x Balenciaga). The intertwining of complex stories and brands leaves a promising future for the next generation of collaboration.


Meaningful move into mental health. Nike unveils a new content series, titled “Nike Mind Sets,” that will live within training apps and clubs. The series aims to focus on how you feel—not what you achieve—and follows an uptick in brands foraying into the mental health and wellness space. While much-needed, consumers hope for these efforts to be made authentically and transparently.


All things audio. Spotify announced its plans to acquire audiobook platform Findaway, its partnership with Musixmatch to offer lyrics, and its addition of active listening experiences. The audio streaming service continues to make its platform accessible and all-consuming. The frontrunner with the future of audio in mind is showcasing that democratization across entertainment spaces is top of mind for many.


Taking the top spot. Citing funnier and more positive content young Americans are taking to TikTok more than Instagram, according to Forrester’s survey. While Instagram and other social platforms have begun incorporating TikTok-like features and incentivizing short-form content to rival the billion monthly active users behemoth, it is becoming increasingly clear that TikTok is rewiring user behavior and creating a unique experience.


Thinking critically and creatively. 50% of Gen Z respondents cite mental health as the main creative distraction during the pandemic; 60% are thinking of switching jobs in the next six months; and 75% of Gen Z respondents believe brands should commit to climate, racial, and social justice issues. WeTransfer’s Fourth Annual Report tracks important trends facing the global creative workforce. Among its top finding are those fired up and ready to make a change, although citing mounting pressure. The study showcases a shifting worldwide landscape and gives an insightful forecast for the future.