The Warriors Aren’t Just Winning, They’re Telling an Incredible Story

The Warriors Aren’t Just Winning, They’re Telling an Incredible Story
March 08 10:40 2016 Print This Article

The world of basketball is watching the Golden State Warriors dominate their opponents. We’re witnessing an entire chapter of the  basketball history book playing out in front of our eyes. But behind the scenes is a devoted group of executives who’s mission stretches beyond the wins on the court. I reached out to the Chip Bowers, Chief Marketing Officer for the GSW and here’s what he told me: 

Jay: Watching Stephen Curry and the Warriors play basketball almost seems like a fantasy. There are more people watching basketball now, just because of the way Stephen Curry is playing. What’s that like on your end as the Chief Marketing Officer for the franchise?

Chip: I’ve been in this business for over 20 years and this is really something special. We appreciate the opportunity we have and are extremely proud. Not boastful, but proud.

Jay: What has that done from a marketing stand point?

Chip: First of all, we’ve been blessed to work with a tremendous group of individuals in our executive offices. Over the last five years with the ownership of Joe Lacob and Peter Guber, they spent a tremendous amount of effort bringing the vision of creating a great basketball franchise to fruition. We’re the only NBA team in town competing with two MLB teams, two football teams and more. Taking the team from Philadelphia back in the Wilt Chamberlain days, we knew we had a story to tell. It wasn’t till the last few years that people started paying attention to our story. The bottom line is that if you’re not successful on the court nobody will hear your story. So winning the title last year certainly got us over the hump.

Jay: To many people the story of the Golden State Warriors is real simple: Stephen Curry can shoot the ball from wherever he wants and put it through the net at any time. What is the broader story of the Golden State Warriors that you’re referring to?

Chip:  Playing great basketball with great players like Stephen, Draymond (Green), Klay (Thompson) and the rest of the team is what people come to watch. But our team is much deeper. We’ve put together a group that our fans will be proud of. Their teamwork, the continuity in the locker room, the great coaching from Steve Kerr is all a byproduct of the fabric that makes up our team. Stephen Curry is much more than a great player, he’s an ambassador to the game of basketball. We want our fans to know that they can always look to our team on and off the court as role models. We’ve got the best fans in the world without a doubt, and we feed off of their enthusiasm. Together we’ve been able to build a brand that we’ve stayed loyal to and that we are very proud of. This is a special team and a special time.We’re excited and humbled and look forward to the potential of what our franchise can become.

Jay: The passion people have for sports, and the number of followers sports players have is sensational. How can other businesses outside of sports create a sports like model in their marketing?

Chip: It’s true that the sports industry has tremendous passion, and for that reason many companies have athletes endorse their products. But the truth is the secret behind successful brands is to tap into the interests of your consumers. Look at Under Armour for example. They faced a tremendous uphill battle against Nike, Adidas and others big brand names. But they realized that their success would be to satisfy the needs of the next generation of athletes. They knew the power was in the youth. They kept their products authentic, and they stayed true to their model, which is, best compression material, because they knew that’s what athletes were looking for. I think understanding passion points of your consumers and delivering those results is what brings success.

Too often companies tell their consumers what they think they want to hear, instead of simply asking them what they want. Find out what they want and create your products in a way that will tell their story.

Jay: Andrew Bogut on your team, and Mathew Dellavedova from the Cleveland Cavaliers are both Australian. With virtual reality beginning to push its way forward, what’s your outlook from a marketing perspective on broadening the fan base?

Chip: Clearly technology is moving at an unbelievable pace, and like in any industry you need to position yourself to adapt to change at any moment. The NBA certainly has its finger on the pulse of the strides being made in technology and years ago David Stern worked very hard in building the brand internationally. How VR will impact the game is still to be seen, and if we can be the guinea pig we’re ready to try. We know it’s coming and we’re ready to embrace it.

Jay: Players like Stephen Curry and other All-Stars around the league are building their brands signing endorsement deals with many companies. The players represent both themselves and the team. I would think that puts the GSW as a team and the players at the intersection of intellectual property vs. the organization’s marketing needs.  Do their long term interests of personal branding conflict with the teams marketing needs?

Chip: The key to success in any joint effort is crystal clear communication. We are completely supportive of any of our players and their partnership deals. It’s really a two way street, we help build their brand, and they help build ours. An endorsement is not just about signing on with a company. Like everything else, it needs to be authentic. When Stephen recently endorsed Brita, it was a perfect match. Stephen believes in not drinking sugar drinks, and appreciates the low cost to help families lead a healthy life so it was a perfect fit for him to get behind. We too are true to our brand, we play hard and stay authentic. When companies look to find an endorsement, it’s all about creating the right message. If you stay true to that, at the end of the day the consumer will believe in you and buy-in.

Chip Bowers HeadshotChip is currently entering his third season as the chief marketing officer (CMO) of the Golden State Warriors. In this role, he oversees all marketing channels & brand development, corporate partnership sales & services efforts, broadcasting and retail merchandising. During his tenure with the Warriors, Chip and his team have received several prestigious awards for their efforts on the business side, including the SportsBusiness Journal’s 2014 Sports Team of the Year award, and a league-high eight awards at the 2014 NBA Sales and Marketing meetings.