Marketing

Whirlwind Start for ESPN Marketer

10/25/2010 12:01 AM Eastern

Carol Kruse’s first
day as ESPN’s senior vice
president of marketing
on Oct. 25 promises to
be a hectic one.

Sean Bratches, executive
vice president of
sales and marketing for
ESPN, to whom she will
report, has set a whirlwind
agenda that will
have Kruse, most recently
with The Coca-Cola Co.,
fly from her current home
in Atlanta to Dallas. From
there, it’s on to Cowboys
Stadium in Arlington,
Texas, where she’ll attend
the programmer’s “Chalk
Talk” luncheon with executives,
including Cowboys
owner Jerry Jones
and ESPN topper George
Bodenheimer, and clients
before the Cowboys take
on the New York Giants on
Monday Night Football.

After breaking bread
and listening to the
MNF announcer team
and former players from
both squads size up the
matchup and expound
on how America’s Team
can turn it around, she’ll
tour the stadium, the site
of Super Bowl XLV, before
heading back to New
York, where she’ll set up
shop for ESPN.

“In true ESPN fashion,
it’s a matter of learning
by immersion,” Bratches
said, noting the “Chalk
Talk” and promoting
ESPN’s coverage around
the NFL’s championship
game falls under her
group’s responsibility.

Kruse, who succeeds
Katie Lacey, will be responsible
for developing
and managing all aspects
of the ESPN brand, including
domestic television,
broadband, digital,
mobile, radio and printmedia
assets, as well as
building upon the company’s
creative, which includes
its iconic “This Is
SportsCenter” campaign.
She will also provide a
strategic marketing focus
on ESPN’s socialnetworking
strategies.

 A global brand marketing
executive with
more than 20 years of experience,
Kruse, whose
career also includes a
stint at Clorox, had been
with Coca-Cola for nine
years, after her company
RocketCash LLC,
an online payments
and consumer promotions
company, was purchased
by the beverage
giant.

During her tenure,
Kruse’s team poured the
development of the “My
Coke Rewards” loyalty
and relationship marketing-
program, which
debuted in 2006 and currently
counts more than
14 million members. She
spent the last three years
leading Coke’s global interactive
marketing team
as vice president.

Kruse, in her first interview
since accepting
the job with ESPN, said
she’ll be “stewarding a
great brand that consumers
are really passionate
about.”

She said she didn’t
have an immediate task
at hand: “We have a
great team in place. I’ll
see some opportunities
where I can help make a
difference.”

But that figures to fall
in the advanced-media
realm. “Both Sean and
George are excited about
the digital and social experience,”
Kruse said.

“She’s been very active
in the digital space, the
bayonet person for Coke
with YouTube, Google,
Twitter and Facebook.
That and her background
in traditional consumer
marketing made her the
right person for the job,”
Bratches said.

Kruse’s “sense for digital
marketing will help
grow our brands in an
area where we already
have strength,” he said

During the months
ahead, she also will be
facing such questions
as, “How are we going
to keep [fans] attached
and extend the products
to new targets, whether
that’s to teens, women or
with new properties?”

Kruse will have some
measure of continuity,
working again with Weiden
& Kennedy, ESPN’s
full-service agency that
also has Coke as a client
. She labeled the
long-running “This Is
SportsCenter” campaign
“brilliant. It’s the perfect
mix of sports authority
and humor.”

An avid Penn State
football supporter — she
grew up in State College,
Pa., where her father was
a teacher — Kruse played
soccer in high school
and at Pomona College.
She kept up with of the
World Cup tournament
across ESPN’s TV, computer
and mobile screens
as she was traveling during
FIFA’s famed event.
She expects her group
will play a significant
role with the 2011 Women’s
World Cup, to which
ESPN holds multimedia
rights.

September