All-inclusive experiences are essential in the Participatory Era because customers want to be as involved as they can with brands. Today’s CMOs are looking for multi-faceted teams who can produce customer-focused, fun, relevant, and metrics-driven content, inviting all stakeholders to get in the game. Kate Jhaveri, (former) CMO of the National Basketball Association (NBA), and Kofi Amoo-Gottfried, CMO of DoorDash, successful brands and partners, know how to delight fans of cuisine, culture, and sports.
Here is what they had to say on Visionaries and how it could influence your team, talent, and future.
Note: During the time of this interview, Kate Jhaveri was the CMO of the NBA.
- Serving Multi-Dimensional Stakeholders
- Creating Opportunities for Participation
- DoorDash and NBA Partnership: “The Greatest Order of All Time”
- How to Think about Teams, Talent, New Marketing, and Skill Set Profiles
- Three Ways to Foster Cultures of Innovation and Collaboration
Serving Multi-Dimensional Stakeholders
Kate Jhaveri: I have the privilege of leading global marketing for the NBA, the NBA G League (our development league), and the NBA 2K League, to connect fans around the world with all 30 teams and all 450 players.
First, we start by looking at the NBA as a global brand. The NBA is a sports league, but we represent so much more. We are at the intersection of culture, community, and sport, which I don’t think any other brand can own like we can. We also have the benefit of having the youngest, most diverse, and tech-savvy fan base of any major sport. There are multiple ways to be a fan today. You could watch a game or highlights, or you can buy merch or engage with DoorDash to get cuisine.
We want to make sure we are everywhere that our fans are, which is why we have one of the largest social media presences. We are the top brand (among U.S. professional sports leagues) on Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok and we are still growing.
Kofi Amoo-Gottfried: I am responsible for leading a dynamic marketing team that meets stakeholders’ needs across three sides of the DoorDash marketplace: consumers, dashers, and businesses. My team serves consumers looking for convenience, dashers looking to earn flexible earnings on their terms, and businesses looking to grow. For DoorDash to make sense for these audiences, they all have to get something out of it, and we have set goals to do that.
Creating Opportunities for Participation
Kofi Amoo-Gottfried: For the majority of dashers, dashing is not a destination; it’s a means to an end. They dash because they are trying to pay a bill, go on a vacation, or work a second gig. We found a sizable group of them dashing because it’s fueling a passion. They might be a musician, actor, filmmaker, or athlete who want to have flexibility around their schedule and make some money. We’ve identified these people and created “Beyond the Dash,” which is finding dashers with these passions, helping celebrate them, and bringing them to the forefront.
For instance, we did an open casting call to the Dasher Community through a partnership with Tribeca to find dashers who were filmmakers; we wanted to help them bring an idea they had in their heads to the Tribeca screen. We worked with an amazing dasher, Oscar, who made a wonderful nine-minute science-fiction film on what it is to be a migrant. He immigrated here from Turkey and talked about how it feels to be an “other” in someone else’s country.
Kate Jhaveri: When we look at engaging our NBA fans to participate, it isn’t just around the amazing dunks or the fantastic NBA finals. Those are really important things, but it is also around the larger story of who these players are.
We are a 76-year-old brand and have been value-led the entire time. We will always stand behind our players; so many different voices want to share about issues, and it is super important for us to stay authentic to that.
Our anchor is that we have some of the most recognizable players in the world. They are more than athletes; they are husbands, fathers, businessmen, and fashion icons. For example, you see Jayson Tatum at Media Day with his son, and Damian Lillard, who wants to be recognized as a musician, not an athlete-musician. Those stories are really important, giving fans a unique way to engage with the NBA brand.
DoorDash and NBA Partnership: “The Greatest Order of All Time”
Kate Jhaveri: Two years ago, DoorDash became our partner; this was the first food delivery partnership any league has had- DoorDash is innovative in that way. Over the last two years, our partnership has been an incredible way to engage with our fans. Most recently, with our 75th anniversary season, Kofi had an amazing campaign called “The Greatest Order Of All Time,” based on the NBA debate, who is truly the GOOAT? Our teams have brought some innovative thinking together for NBA and DoorDash’s stakeholders.
Kofi Amoo-Gottfried: When it comes to serving all three of our constituents (businesses, consumers, and dashers) not everything we do will speak to those audiences equally. With the NBA partnership, however, we can address all three audiences by speaking to basketball fans and engaging them to participate in the conversation of The Greatest Order of All Time (GOOAT). For example, dashers have amazing stories about the best or most unexpected deliveries they have made. We have found this to be a fun way for people to participate in this conversation.
Working with Kate’s team, we have built other campaigns that tap into multiple aspects of the ecosystem, another example being #PlayItForward, which highlighted black-owned restaurants in the app. Ten NBA players were part of the campaign, and they told the world what their favorite black-owned businesses were on DoorDash, bringing these businesses to the forefront for consumers to enjoy.
How to Think about Teams, Talent, New Marketing, and Skill Set Profiles
Kofi Amoo-Gottfried: To be successful, we want you to be a great marketer, but we also want you to be a great operator. We want you to think about how your actions deliver a commercial impact and how they are realized across the business.
It is important to find creative people who can make the campaigns we get excited about but also understand what impact that is having and what it means for the business. As we hire, we search for people with those skills, who want to operate in an environment with much uncertainty, and people who can be curious versus hoping for a playbook that they can apply- because there isn’t one.
Kate Jhaveri: Even as a 76-year-old brand, agility is super important because things change. There is a need for new skill sets in marketing and for folks to continue to update their skills over time. Digital marketing two and a half years ago is now very stale, so understanding how to reach your fans and how to reach your customers requires a growth mindset. Learning and trying to stay on top of your craft is important, but so is having the ability to deal with ambiguity and embrace it and be metrics-driven where it applies.
Three Ways to Foster Cultures of Innovation and Collaboration
Kofi and Kate’s top three leadership principles for large-scale innovation.
1) Create a safe environment where people feel like they can fail
“When people feel safe, they can come up with those ideas that break the backboard. As leaders that is what we need to foster on a regular basis because it’s easy to say, “be creative” or “you can fail,” but what happens when you fail, and how do you treat those failures? Do you learn from them? How do you reward the people who were brave enough to try these things?” -Kate Jhaveri
2) Set outrageously audacious goals
“Goals should keep going up, meaning you will need to figure out new ways to reach them rather than resort to the status quo or how you did it before.” -Kofi Amoo-Gottfried
3) Create a culture of experimentation
“Be 1% better every day. You’re not meant to get to 100%, but you can aim for constant improvement, iteration, testing, and making bets based on your learning.” -Kofi Amoo-Gottfried
Visionaries, hosted by Nadine Dietz, airs every Tuesday at 9 AM PT and is brought to you in partnership with The Wall Street Journal. Each week, two new visionaries share their game plan and how that impacts today’s teams, talent, and hybrid work environment.
Kofi Amoo-Gottfried, CMO, DoorDash: Kofi is a mentor for marketers of color, a board member of important causes, and the CMO of DoorDash. He began his career at Leo Burnett and helped develop the Kellogg brand. While at Wieden + Kennedy, he crafted the strategy for Nike’s global Beijing Olympics campaign. Kofi was the Chief Strategy Officer at FCB, the Global Communications Director for the Bacardi Brand, and the Vice President of Brand and Consumer Marketing at Facebook (Meta). He also Founded the Publicist Network in West Africa, serving as the Managing Director.
Kofi holds many names that prove his marketing expertise, such as “Brand Genuis” (Adweek, 2020), “25 CMOs to Watch” (Business Insider, 2020), “Rockstar” (ADCOLOR, 2017), and most recently, was the recipient of Adweek’s CMO award in 2021.
Kate Jhaveri, (former) CMO, NBA: Kate is a Chief Marketing Officer for the NBA, a proud board member of Ad Council, Planned Parenthood, and the Tuck School of Business, and is an investor.
She spent the first portion of her marketing career in technology, working for Microsoft, MacBook, and Dell. She later explored her community passion while working for Facebook, Twitter, and most recently served as the CMO for Twitch. She is now the CMO of the NBA, leading one of today’s greatest innovative marketing teams. In 2020, she was named among the “Most Powerful Women in Sports” by Adweek. This past year, Kate oversaw the creation and launch of the league’s “NBA Lane” campaign in celebration of the NBA’s 75th anniversary season, which earned a Sports Emmy Award for Outstanding Studio or Production Design/Art Direction.
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