With over two decades of culture marketing experience, Reggie Casagrande, Oakley’s head of strategy for global sports marketing, has led the charge in fusing entertainment and sports to spur change in the most innovative campaigns in marketing. This month’s SoundBytes on “Culture Marketing & Digital Transformation Across Sports and Entertainment” focused on Casagrande’s approach to culture marketing, diversity, and inclusion, what’s on the horizon with the Olympics coming to L.A., and her approach to the metaverse.
COULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR APPROACH TO CULTURE MARKETING AND HOW IT HAS
EVOLVED IN TODAY’S MARKET?
Culture marketing is about things happening in communities and how people within communities engage with each other—from style cues to the communication and words they use.
If you want to connect to a certain segment within a community, ask who is going to be that cultural figure that you can authentically leverage to connect to that community in an authentic way so it doesn’t feel like you’re being sold to.
The digital transformation on social media with creators and gamers that didn’t really exist a decade ago are now extremely prominent and important in terms of implementing strategies to drive growth or cut through the noise. A few years ago, nobody knew or cared about TikTok and now it’s probably the premier channel and vehicle when you think about your brand’s social media, on how to connect, or how to get information across through the kind of the context and lens of TikTok.
WHAT IS THE ROLE OF SOCIAL CREATORS IN CULTURE MARKETING?
There’s a lot of intersectionality between entertainment marketing and culture marketing. Social creators are entertainers for the next generation, even if they might just be making silly videos or whatever it is they’re doing. And if someone has millions of followers, they’ve got something going for themselves and brands are paying attention. When we put together a culture strategy, we think about the different verticals within culture. Do we want to have designers and artists attached? What creators are regionally or locally centric folks that also have an element of activism that a brand may want to leverage to tell stories?
HOW ARE YOU BUILDING BRAND STRATEGY ACROSS SPORTS AND ENTERTAINMENT IN
THE YEAR AHEAD?
One of our priorities is diversity and it’s definitely being reflected in our roster every year. We have more and more female athletes in our roster. We’re trying to diversify certain sports that typically are homogenous—like snowboarding—and trying to bring more folks on board so sports can thrive.
Representation from a diversity and inclusion point of view within a company has to start within the company, so you need to see women and people of color in senior leadership.
You need to bring people into the pipeline and to potentially recruit in nontraditional spaces.
AS AN OLYMPICS (TEAM USA) SPONSOR, WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO WITH
THE OLYMPICS COMING TO L.A.?
The last couple of Olympics have been challenging with the pandemic, with no fans and people not being able to go. What excites me the most about the Olympics now is that it is principal protected and in my hometown. There’s a lot of development happening, which generates a lot of energy and economic growth within cities. I’m really excited about the attention the Paralympics are getting with the dynamic athletes who all have such incredible stories, like our athlete Oksana Masters.
WHAT ARE SOME CHALLENGES WITH THE OLYMPICS?
The challenge for the Olympics along with a lot of things right now is that young people don’t really care about certain things anymore. The challenge for the Olympics is how do we make the Olympics cool? How do we make the Olympics something that kids want to follow, that young people are interested in, and the truth is that young folks are inspired by athletes. It’s all about social media and storytelling. The NCAA hasn’t really given an opportunity to young people and athletes to build their brands through their social media presences. As those young athletes create energy around themselves, people will follow them and want to be part of their stories.
WHAT IS YOUR APPROACH TO THE METAVERSE AND NFT SPACE?
Although the future of crypto is uncertain, they’re hugely invested in sport and it’s interesting to see all the different things Roblox has done. I think 3.0 really became more prominent to me when I was at NTWRK creating NFTs, which was innovative. With that next frontier, who would have thought that kids would be interacting with their brands in a shopping experience within an app? That’s becoming much more normal all around. We’re also seeing lots of heritage organizations like the MLB, NFL, and NHL that typically have much older consumers at their events, partnering with e-sports organizations from Call of Duty to Riot Games—even a few weeks ago Patrick Mahomes’ signature collection partnered with Fortnite as part of a drop activation.
SoundBytes is a marketing collective bringing best-in-class marketers together to propel collaboration, innovation, and deal-making, featuring a diverse range of speakers and addressing key topics across entertainment, music, sports, and media. The mission of Soundbytes is to build community, create authentic connections by sharing insight and intel to help propel collaboration and business objectives forward into the future. Run by Michelle Edgar and Jessica Nuremberg, SoundBytes has curated over 30 sessions featuring Fortune 500 C-suite marketers.