As the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Kris Rone’s responsibilities include overseeing all club sales and marketing efforts from advertising to in-game entertainment to community affairs programs.
Before curveballs, 7th inning stretches and Dodger Dogs, Kris Rone surrounded herself with bulls’ eyes.
No, the Minnesota native did not partake in bullfighting, but instead worked on the Target account at Chuck Ruhr Advertising in Minneapolis. By working with a creative sports marketer like Target, Rone’s interest in business-to-consumer advertising evolved into a zeal for sports marketing. This set the foundation for her advancement to the highest-ranking female executive in the storied history of the Dodger franchise.
“Target’s sports-related campaigns were more than just advertisements,” Rone recalls. “They turned passive sports sponsorships into a real business tool.”
The department store currently holds the naming rights to the Minnesota Timberwolves’ home facility (Target Center) as well as sponsoring a variety of races for the Chip Ganassi Team in the Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) open wheel motorsports series.
Rone, 35, moved to California and continued to work on Target’s sports marketing initiatives for Santa Monica, California-based media firm, Focus Media. She was in charge of putting together sponsorship programs for over 30 different properties in a variety of sports. The wide range of clients enabled Rone to learn at a quicker pace than most sports executives.
“Working on an account like Target was a great opportunity for me to learn firsthand the business side of sports as well as meet people in the industry,” Rone said.
In her present position with the Dodgers, Rone sees a wealth of opportunities for a team and a brand that means more to fans from Los Angeles to Brooklyn than any other brand in the country.
“We are really focusing on marketing towards the Hispanic community and to families in general this season,” Rone said. This season’s Diá de los Niños (Children’s Day) promotion resulted in 10,000 walk-up tickets sold at Dodger Stadium.
To this day, Rone credits three individuals as mentors she looks up to and emulates. Her work ethic was instilled in her at an early age from her father, Duane Dorow, as he had her hand out lemonade samples in his grocery store. She credits Gary Tobey of Haworth Marketing and Media for teaching her to continually think “out of the box,” and Tim Leiweke, President of the STAPLES Center and the Los Angeles Kings, for his drive and ability to get things done and develop creative, value-centric partnerships with sponsors for teams in the Los Angeles area.
For individuals looking into a career in the sports industry, Rone points to thorough research and a network of contacts as key ingredients to a foot in the door.
“You should learn everything you can about the business of sports before you interview with a sports property,” Rone said. “Saying ‘I’m a big sports fan’ does not cut it anymore. Read sports business publications for trends, sponsorships and technologies that are changing the sports business landscape.
“And from my own personal experiences, it helps to learn from key opinion leaders in the field. Working on the Target account gave me the opportunity to meet and know so many people in different leagues.
“You want them to remember your name when they hear of an opening.”
Rone earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota and now sits on the Board of Directors for the Dodger Dream Foundation and is a member of the Women’s Sports Foundation.