Notes from Meeting with The Falcons CMO, Jim Smith

My family had a little tradition all throughout my childhood. On Sunday mornings we’d go to church and afterwards we’d grill chicken and watch the Falcons. I even had a sweet Deion Sanders poster with the baseball bat and shoulder pads on my wall for years.

So naturally, when I heard Jim Smith, Falcons CMO was coming to speak at TAG, ATDC, I was all over it. And I took a few notes.  Here are my takeaways:

  • Jim spoke heavily about the importance of starting his career in non-glamorous positions that allowed him to “learn the business inside and out”. He espoused that experience trumps the big name brand.
  • He repeatedly mentioned the power of his mentors (including Vince McMahon when he worked for WWF). He referred to them as “visionaries”.
  • He told fantastic stories. At one point he asked the audience if we minded all the storytelling and a vigorous “NO!” was reported back. People were hooked.
  • Regarding Michael Vick, Jim said the Falcons made the mistake of “letting one player be the face of the team” when it’s about the whole team.
  • This team concept along with uniting a fragmented Atlanta community was the motivation that helped him bring to life the wildly successful ‘Falcon’s Rise-up Campaign’, signing Samuel L. Jackson as the spokesman for somewhere shy of a million dollars (I got goosebumps when they played the video).
  • Jim referenced when selling you “always have to find an angle”. Arthur Blank was close to a good friend of Sam Jackson and that’s how they brokered the deal.
  • He proclaimed that “The handheld device is just as important as your beer and hotdog” when you’re in the stadium. There will be tons of mobile innovation (ticketing, pre-paid concessions, seat upgrades, etc)
  • Jim talked about the power of having a branding expert referring to Arthur Blank and how helpful his brand building experience from Home Depot has been to the Falcons.

All in all this event was a total injection of business and sports value. If you ever get the chance to hear Jim speak. I highly recommend it!


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