Jen Ferron is the Chief Marketing Officer of Kraft Sports + Entertainment (KS+E). KS+E owns the New England Patriots, New England Revolution, Boston Uprising, Gillette Stadium, and Patriot Place.
Here is what Jen had to say when we asked her about the marketing mindset:
What is one skill you utilize to be effective when working with a variety of teams, including the New England Patriots, New England Revolution, Boston Uprising, and Gillette Stadium?
Diplomacy. The brands that we service and represent are really disparate and discrete businesses. Yes, football and soccer are both sports, but they are completely different sports. They have their own rules, brands, fans, seasons, and audience bases. Then, there is Patriot Place, which is a retail and entertainment dining destination. People come here to walk around and be outdoors. At KS+E there are many instances when there are win-wins for all business units; however, at times, like with most organizations, there needs to be give and take. An example of this might be a New England Patriots game or concert happening at Gillette Stadium that is going to bring 70,000 people to the venue, but tie up the entire main roads getting to and from Patriot Place. Essentially, you are trying to run an outdoor shopping mall filled with restaurants and stores that welcomes customers every day, and all of a sudden 70,000 people are coming in for a completely different event. We are always trying to break down walls and understand the needs of our constituents, so we can get to a place where under the circumstances, whatever they may be, we can achieve some sort of common ground and deliver on behalf of all our customers.
An important part of your job is connecting with people: connecting with your team, connecting the Patriots with their fans, and connecting KS+E with the community. As a leader, how do you develop meaningful connections to achieve your goals?
I think one of the keys to connecting with people is listening to them. When you are working with people, you need to understand what they care most about. What is important to them? What are their likes and dislikes? How do they spend their time? What are their motivations? When you understand what people care about, you are better equipped to know how to meet their expectations and achieve a favorable outcome for all involved. It is a little bit like dating! You have to make time to genuinely learn what makes people happy and comfortable.
KS+E has built iconic brands that are known around the world. What are three important elements to consider when building a brand, whether it is for yourself or a company?
Whether it is a personal or a professional brand, the three elements you need to consider are authenticity, adaptability, and roots. Authenticity is who you are and what you stand for, and honoring these truths. If you have a facade that does not feel genuine people will see through it. Adaptability is the notion that you want to have some longevity. While you want to be authentic, you are going to grow and mature, so you need to be able to adjust and adapt. This does not make you less authentic, it just is more of a recognition of being wiser and knowing that your personal and professional brand can grow with you. Roots is where you came from. If you are figuring out the “roots” for a company, brand, or new business ask these questions: Why did it start? What is it trying to do? How is it supposed to deliver something to a customer?
Being an effective communicator is an important part of every job, especially in marketing. What are the key aspects of being an effective communicator?
Be intentional and clear. Vagueness allows people to get stuck and not really know what the expectations are or what you are trying to deliver on. It causes unnecessary confusion that takes away from more important priorities. Marketers spend a lot of time wordsmithing. We contemplate over what words, tenses, and verbs to use all the time. When writing and speaking, it is important for everyone to be thoughtful and precise with word choice.
As an accomplished executive, what inspires you to keep returning to KS+E season after season?
I have been with the organization for a really long time and have been very lucky to work with a number of professional sports teams in the NFL and MLS. Additionally, I have had the opportunity to work on high-profile sporting events, such as the Super Bowl, NCAA Lacrosse, and Women’s World Cup. We have so many different ticketed events and live events in Gillette Stadium, so I think it is the variety that inspires me. Live sports and entertainment are constantly evolving, and I love having the ability to try something new and do something different. Sports really allows for creativity and innovation in a way that other industries may not be as open to.
What can young women in high school and college do to prepare for a career in sports and entertainment?
Be open to any opportunity that exposes you to the industry. Sports and entertainment are really broad and there are many levels of jobs—traditional professional sports, amateur sports, and events. Therefore, if you are a runner, run a 5K or a 10K! Maybe there is an opportunity for you to volunteer at those events. Another way to learn more about the sports and entertainment industry is to be a participant at sporting events. Even if you do not love hockey (but you have the opportunity to go to a hockey game), get a ticket and go to take in the atmosphere. However, you need to remember that just because you love being a football fan it does not necessarily mean you will love working in football. Working a football game is very different than sitting in the stands with a hotdog and a soda. This means you should think about all of the verticals that go into sports and live events—broadcast, sponsors, delivery platforms, etc. Do not limit yourself to thinking about sports as only a professional sports opportunity. Think bigger. You could work in supply chain for a company that manufactures footballs or pursue a role in advertising with a major sponsor.
Jen Ferron is the Chief Marketing Officer of Kraft Sports + Entertainment (KS+E), which owns the New England Patriots, New England Revolution, Boston Uprising, Gillette Stadium, and Patriot Place. In her 24th season with the organization, Jen is charged with overseeing Customer Marketing, Fan Acquisition, Engagement, Retention, Digital Media, Web Services, Retail, Content, Media & Community Relations, Sponsor Fulfillment, Advertising, Promotions, Creative Services, Special Events, and the Patriots Hall of Fame. In addition, she has played a key role in special projects and new business initiatives including: Fan experience and amenity upgrades at Gillette Stadium; Advance Team Planning for nine of the Patriots Super Bowl appearances; Team and Sponsor logistics during NFL International Series in both London and Mexico; Fan Development for Patriots Training Camp at Gillette Stadium; Media Planning for the FIFA Women’s World Cup and CONCACAF Gold Cup; Strategic Marketing and Publicity campaigns during the construction of Gillette Stadium, Marketing/Promotional planning for Patriot Place, and the production and execution of several NFL season Kickoff/Super Bowl Championship games hosted at Gillette Stadium. Prior to joining KS+E, Ferron worked as an Account Executive at Arnold Public Relations. Ferron holds a BA in Communications from Boston College and resides in Holliston, MA with her husband and their two children.
Contributor: Julia Lenhart