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MiS Community Spotlight: Deontre Gray, ESPN

Meet Deontre Gray, Our Community Member of the Week

Name: Deontre “Tre” Gray

Job: Brand Coordinator

Company: ESPN

LinkedIn: Deontre Gray


In 140 characters or less, tell us who you are and how you got to where you are today.

Who: Marketer, Strategist, Innovator, Creative

How: Faith, Family, Support, Passion, Hard work, Networking, Humility/Hunger

What’s one trend in media or marketing that you’re buying or selling?

One trend in media I would say I am buying is Influencer Marketing. The scale may not always be there, but the long-term influence and partnerships you can make is the biggest buying point.

Most influencers have already established themselves on platforms with younger audiences such as Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, etc. Their influence from a major and micro standpoint allows you to engage with fans most companies may not otherwise reach.

How do you define creativity?

Freedom!

Creativity is having the ability to start from scratch and come up with a completely new idea or even breathing new life into one that is already established and then making adjustments.

Furthermore creativity is also being able to collaborate your ideas with someone else’s and create an even bigger picture.

Ultimately, the biggest thing when you have that creative freedom is not being afraid to take risks and experiment and let your imagination take over to truly bring your bright ideas to life.

What’s the project or campaign that you’re proudest of? Why?

I’d have to say being a part of the marketing team that was responsible for the marketing efforts behind the launch of ESPN+, (the first-ever multi-sport, direct-to-consumer premium subscription streaming service from The Walt Disney Company in partnership with ESPN). Due to our marketing and company-wide efforts, we reached 1 million subscribers in a five month span.

This project gave me a lot of exposure internally and externally, and I also got to work with two big- name actors: Keegan Michael Key and Mike O’Malley.

What are you working on right now? Any exciting future plans that you’re able to share?

To kick off 2019, I am now a part of the ESPN Brand Marketing Team after the appointment of Laura Gentile as of SVP of Marketing.

Our team now leads the marketing efforts on The ESPN brand, original studio shows, This is SportsCenter, 30 for 30 Films, digital properties, fantasy sports, the ESPYs, and sports gambling.

One future project we are working on that everyone should be excited about is the Chicago Bulls film “The Last Dance”, a 10-part documentary series that will chronicle one of the greatest icons and most successful dynasties in sports history. The film will cover Michael Jordan and the 1990s Chicago Bulls and is set to release in 2020.

As a connected fan, what’s the best piece of sports content that you have recently consumed?

I would have to say LeBron James: More Than An Athlete, The Shop, and Duke: Earn Everything have all grasped my interest as of late. I appreciate the additional look into the athletes’, coaches’, and celebrities’ mindsets, thought processes, and personalities in everyday life.

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What’s been the biggest high and low of working in sports?

High: Sports change so much that there is never an opportunity to become bored or complacent with your work. The industry, audiences, and projects change on a consistent basis so what you worked on last month can change the next based on industry trends. To take it one step further, what worked for last year’s or last month’s campaign may not work the next time around. You constantly have to adjust messaging and ideas to fit your audience. Sports present an eternal opportunity to learn and grow and that’s something I truly enjoy.

Low: I tend to look at my low as a high. I am often the youngest and only African American male in a room which can present challenges when voicing ideas, opinions, and thoughts. It may feel like a lot of pressure or looked at as a low, but I also take it as the chance to be a larger voice and positive representation for those two groups (Millennials and African Americans). I view it as an opportunity to ensure we are represented in a respectful and authentic way.

What’s one element of the sports industry that you’d like to see change?

I’d like to see more diversity within the sports industry, specifically within race and age. This industry has one of the most diverse audiences in the world, and therefore companies should reflect that internally from entry-level positions to executives.

We have to make our companies more appealing to what younger and more diverse candidates want out of a place of employment, starting with visual representation.

What’s an example of one way in which MiS has positively impacted your career?

I graduated from The Ohio State University in May of 2017 and moved to New York shortly after in the summer. My network of minorities specifically in the sports industry was relatively small. MiS gave me a network of family, friends, and mentors to connect and interact with, on a professional and personal level. As I continue my career journey, MiS also gives me the opportunity to impact the next generation of young sports professionals.

Get to know more members of the Hashtag Sports and MiS communities here.

Hear more from leaders and creators across the sports industry this June at Hashtag Sports, an annual conference designed for media and marketing professionals.

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