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Cubs VP of Marketing Visits MSLCE, Talks Capitalizing on Both Success and Failure

By John Hounihan

“Join the Cubs on the most remarkable journey in all of sports. Trust the process, and we’ll bleed Cubbie Blue together.” How do you strategize branding when a product is bad? With most cases, you fix the product. And when that’s not possible? You find value another way. In the case of the Chicago Cubs, that was all about generating buy-in from their most loyal customers.  Consequently, “when the team broke the curse, they knew we meant it all along.” This was the message brought to us by Alison Miller, Vice President of Marketing for the Cubs. Alison visited Rick Kolsky’s course on Marketing Strategies in Creative Enterprises last week, and we ventured into the world of sports marketing with the case of the 2016 World Series champs.

From the beginning of Alison’s presentation, it was very clear that every piece of the Chicago Cubs rebuild was deliberate. Both on the baseball side and the business side, pieces were put in motion years ago to not only win it all, but capitalize on the win at every level. From day one of Rick’s class we have been presented with a number of tools to understand customer needs, position a brand effectively, and build all aspects of a creative enterprises’ marketing plan. So seeing all of the pieces put into play with an organization so ingrained in the culture of Chicago was quite engaging.

At the core of Alison’s message a piece of our curriculum came to life – brand as a living, breathing piece of an organization. She spoke about the transformation of the Cub’s season tag-line, from 2013 to now, how the focus of a sports brand can evolve from experiential to associated with the player, and, perhaps most impressively, how a brand can sustain itself in the face of huge adversity and in the face of immense success. In the end, it was a refreshing and enriching chat with a great deal of insight into modern marketing success.

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