Jason Klein offers his clients a mix of skills he picked up working for the Lakers in traditional sponsorship sales, at WCJ Sports on the agency side, as director of marketing for California Speedway, then on the property side with the Dodgers as director of sponsorship sales, and finally within a league on the digital business at MLB Advanced Media. Klein recently started 88 Marketing, which will provide sales representation for sports properties along with new media and sponsorship consulting. Staff writer Theresa Manahan spoke with Klein about his new venture.
New title: Founder and principal, 88 Marketing
Previous title: Vice president of corporate partnerships, Western region, for MLB Advanced Media
First job: Newspaper delivery boy in Detroit
College education: B.A. in psychology, University of California, Riverside (1995)
Resides: Los Angeles
Grew up: Detroit and San Diego
Executive most admired: Diamondbacks President Derrick Hall
Brand most admired: ESPN
Favorite vacation spot: Kona, Hawaii
Last book read: “The Hungry Caterpillar” and “Goodnight Moon” to my 1-year-old; “When the Game Was Ours” by Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Jackie MacMullan
Last movie seen: “Up in the Air”
Favorite movie: “Hoosiers”
Favorite musician/band: Pearl Jam
Where did the name 88 Marketing come from?
It comes from the ’88 World Series, when Kirk Gibson hit the home run in Game 1. Gibson used to play for the Tigers when I was a kid, then when I moved out to California, he played for the Dodgers. I was lucky enough to be at Game 1 of the World Series and he hit that home run. To this day, besides getting married and having our baby, it’s probably the most memorable moment of my life.
What was the biggest challenge in getting 88 Marketing started?
Besides the economy, I think initially working by myself without any support staff. In this new venture, it is all me. I am the IT department and the accounting department. The toughest part is doing everything on your own, but it’s also the challenging and exciting part, too.
88 Marketing will provide sales representation for “select sports properties.” Which ones?
Initially it will be baseball. On the digital side, there is a real opportunity to help the non-baseball teams monetize their digital assets. There seems to be a lot of opportunity to consult on the digital basis but also to help sell digital assets. The next phase is to get some properties on board from a digital standpoint. The properties I am initially targeting are some NBA teams. The NBA and Turner control their national rights, but the teams are still running their own Web sites and selling their own Web sites.
How many clients do you have starting off?
The Dodgers, the Padres and the Mariners.
What is your biggest professional disappointment?
Not getting a championship ring while I was working for the different teams. When you work in sports, it’s one of those things that you can only get in our industry.
What career advice do you have for people wanting into the sports industry?
You have to be 100 percent committed, you have to do it right and set everything up right from the beginning; then don’t look back.
What is one story you are continuing to watch in the sports world today?
The continuing shift of advertising and sponsorship dollars to digital and mobile platforms. Looking at how teams and leagues and rights holders are adapting to it.
This career spotlight is courtesy of the SportsBusiness Journal. CLICK HERE to visit their official website.