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Asia Gholston is recognized as a Marketer To Watch for her innovative leadership as Vice President of Marketing at the Jacksonville Jaguars. She distinguishes herself through her ability to oversee future-forward brand strategy, marketing operations, digital marketing, social media, influencer marketing, concert and event marketing, and creative design for the brand. Previous to this role, she served as the Senior Integrated Marketing Manager at the National Football League. Her professional journey includes stints with the NBA, L’Oréal, Chevrolet, Cadillac, and BET Network. She is a proud Detroit native, a Michigan State graduate, and a mom to twins Maverick and Milo. 

In her interview, she reveals some of the exciting work she’s been doing for the Jaguars brand, the importance of marketing in a way that resonates with expected and unexpected fans, the art of playing devil’s advocate before every campaign, and so much more. Here’s her story.

What gives me joy outside of work

Advancing equity in the sports industry by serving on the boards of The Black Sports Business Symposium, The Black Sports Business Academy, and PRO Sports Assembly.

A book every marketer should read

A must-read book is For the Culture by Marcus Collins. It takes on marketing from a completely different angle, focusing on human behavior and identifying our need to fit into social groups. 

Future of Marketing

Q: What is one thing coming down the pike for marketing you are most excited about?

I’m most excited about the trend of more personalized experiences for fans and consumers. In this era, quality takes precedence over quantity, and we’ve embraced this shift. Our Jaguars app tailors experiences based on membership, distinguishing between season ticket holders and general members. We also use personalized experiences to acquire and cultivate new audiences.

Most notably, our preseason game landed on Women’s Equality Day—we used this as an opportunity to capture new female fans. To make it even more personalized, we created the theme Ladies Night @ the Bank and employed creative calls to action in our game day creative, such as “Leave the kids at home with their dad” and “Get my girls to the game.”

We employed the support of micro-influencers in the Jacksonville community from moms, IT girls, and experience seekers. Pregame mixer, photo ops, influencer suites, and varying gameday experiences added a unique touch to the fan experience.

Q: What’s your prediction or something you see evolving in Sports Marketing over the next few years? 

Some might take what I’m about to say next as controversial but hear me out. What if, in the future, the brand/marketing team is present when players are being drafted? Team marketing can weigh in on a player’s marketability as it relates to fan sentiment, known values, and interest, and in return, we can better forecast ticket sales, sponsorship alignment, and overall marketing strategies.

Q: What widely accepted “marketing truth” or concept do you wish the industry would do away with or evolve? 

Let’s do away with getting too caught up in your perceived target audience, especially in sports, when you tend to focus only on people who have traditionally purchased tickets. If you are a team in a market, you need to find ways to speak to your ENTIRE market. With new players being added to your roster, community initiatives ranking high in organizational priorities, and player personality-driven content becoming increasingly important, you will be surprised what will trigger your next fan.

Marketing at the Jacksonville Jaguars

Q: What’s something exciting you’re currently working on?  

I’m excited about the planning for the 2024 season. This year will be the Jaguars’ 30th season in the NFL. Since I started, we’ve spent so much time identifying new audiences and acquiring and cultivating new fans. This year, we are taking a step back and bringing “DUUUVAL’s” day one fans and the proverbial day 100 fans to the table in unison with this milestone celebration. For instance, we are inducting Jaguar’s first-ever head coach, Tom Coughlin, into the Pride of the Jaguars, and fans are selecting the 30th-anniversary logo. There are many elements of the season that we are putting the fans first and, frankly, bringing them into the matrix.

Q: What’s the most pressing business challenge you’ve faced within the last year, and how have you tried to solve it?  

Sports marketing is always tricky because the team’s wins and losses determine so much of what you can, can’t, or need to do. Every Monday, when our team steps into the office, we must show up for the players, the city, the brand, the partners, the ticketing team, and so on. When we build our marketing campaigns, we almost always play “devil’s advocate” and run worst-case scenarios. Our season campaigns need to withstand the test of an NFL season.

Career and Leadership Advice

Q: What leadership muscle is most important for marketers to exercise?

Stay curious, poke holes in your campaigns, and ask questions out loud—the easy questions, the hard ones, and the ones from left field (because they always come). I love asking probing questions. For instance, when someone on my team sends me something they deem “cool,” I respond with, “What makes this cool to you?” Marketers are consumers, too; what moves the needle for me will be entirely different for someone else. And, when you are trying to move things at a mass scale, you must put on a different pair of glasses to make sure you are communicating the right information to the right audience. There are plenty of “those that get it, get it” (aka IFYKYK) moments that arise in marketing, but if someone is asking questions about your intended outcome, you didn’t ask yourself enough questions throughout the process.

Q: What’s the most game-changing career advice youve received?

Know who you are before you walk into organizations because if you don’t, you risk picking up someone else’s bad habits while trying to fit in.

Marketers to Watch is a recognition series to spotlight highly innovative and forward-thinking marketing leaders in the community. If you have someone you’d like to nominate for the series, apply here.