This week, we spotlight Tim Ellis. He’s the Chief Marketing Officer for the National Football League.
We’d like to congratulate Tim Ellis and the NFL team for staying successful in the middle of a pandemic.
Think about it: football is a close-contact sport by definition. And the fans who sit in the stands aren’t exactly socially distanced either.
All 60,000 of them. Or more.
Yet, through all of that, the NFL managed a successful season in 2020 and 2021.
And much of that success is thanks to Tim Ellis.
Lots of Accolades for Tim Ellis
It’s understandable why the NFL gave its CMO job to Tim Ellis. He’s a veteran marketer with more than 30 years of experience.
According to his LinkedIn page, he’s also recognized as the author of some of the most innovative marketing campaigns in the U.S. and Europe.
He’s only been with the NFL for about three years, and yet he’s already earned the coveted Marketer of the Year award from Ad Age. He’s also been recognized as the top CMO by both Adweek and Ad Age.
Oh, yeah: he’s also won four sports (4) Emmys.
And he created the #1 Super Bowl ad in the USA, according to Ad Meter.
Before joining the NFL, Ellis also earned the following recognitions:
- Adweek Brand Genius Award
- Grand Effie Award
- Cannes Lions Global Marketer of the Year
- Ad of the Year by Adweek
- Cannes Lions Titanium Award for Most Forward Thinking
He also sits on the Board for:
- Adweek Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council
- Adweek Executive Mentor Program
- Ad Council
Tim Ellis and the NFL
So what does Ellis do for the NFL?
For starters, manages all marketing activities for the organization. Most recently, that goes beyond adding to top-line sales. He also demonstrates social responsibility.
According to Ellis, he’s helped the NFL make “major strides to be more human and compassionate, with its finger on the pulse of societal issues that resonate most with its fans.”
He’s also “future-proofed” the league.
By that, he means he’s grown the fanbase to an all-time high with outreach towards women, Hispanics, and young fans.
“Since the day I stepped into the NFL, I have been ringing the bell of urgency. We cannot afford to be complacent. We have to grow our core audiences – younger fans, female fans and Latino fans. With a sense of urgency, we have to focus on that.”
He says those groups had been in decline among NFL fans for seven years.
But thanks to Ellis’ work, the league now enjoys all-time highs in perception.
And that fanbase growth led to strong ratings and a larger share of TV viewership last year. As a result, the NFL was able to sign media rights agreements worth about $110 billion over 11 years.
Rewinding Ellis’ Career
Before joining the NFL, Ellis worked at Activision for seven years as Chief Marketing Officer.
While there, he managed all marketing strategies and programs on a global scale. That included marketing for popular titles such as:
- Call of Duty
- Guitar Hero
And his areas of responsibility in marketing included:
- Public Relations
- Digital Marketing (including Social Media Marketing)
- Consumer Insights
Here’s what Ellis accomplished while at Activision:
- Managed the most successful entertainment launch ever for two years in a row. Call of Duty hit $1 billion in sales in 15 days.
- Managed marketing for the biggest new game ever: Skylanders. It turned out to be the #1 toy property in the West. It also inspired the #1 action figure.
- Led the launch of the highest-selling new game ever developed: Destiny.
- Restructured the Digital and Social Media departments and marketing strategy. The end result: Activision became the #1 console game franchise community on Facebook and Twitter.
- Designed the first-ever Events department for Activision. The company eventually earned the Grand Ex Award. That’s the most prestigious event award in the industry.
- Led the team that launched the License Department. As a result, Skylanders earned the title “Best Licensed Program of the Year” at LIMA.
- Helped launch the first CRM and Data Analytics division at Activision.
Before joining Activision, Ellis spent about three-and-a-half years with Volkswagen of America as Head of Marketing.
While there, he sat on the Executive Leadership Team and oversaw all aspects of the company’s marketing.
And he got results. U.S. sales increased 40% during his tenure. Market share increased by 63%.
Ellis also produced what is widely recognized as one of the most successful Super Bowl spot ever: “The Force.”
You might remember that ad. If not, it’s worth watching again for the entertainment value.
For that effort, Ellis was recognized by Time Magazine as the person who drove the strategy that changed Super Bowl advertising forever.
Wrapping It Up
Tim Ellis can market cars. He can market video games. And he can market sports.
It’s probably safe to say he can market anything.
That’s why he’s in such high demand. That’s why he’s worked for companies that are household names.
I look forward to seeing where he takes the NFL from here.