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The Student News Site of Loyola University Maryland

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Brad Downs describes building the Raven brand at annual DeFrancis Lecture

Falcons at Ravens 10/19/14

On Tuesday, Nov. 6, the Sellinger School of Business and Management hosted Loyola’s annual Defrancis Lecture, highlighting marketing initiatives and fan engagement with the vice president of the Ravens’ marketing team, Brad Downs. This event was sponsored by M&T Bank.

Downs is a Baltimore Business Journal 40 Under 40 honoree in 2016 and creator of RISE. The engagement initiative geared toward increasing youth participation in football is responsible for advertising, promoting and ensuring that the existing fanbase is engaged, while also expanding the current number of Ravens fans to include more people.

According to Downs, 72 percent of Baltimore’s residents already watch, listen or attend Ravens’ games. Not only is it important to increase the fan base beyond their current number, but Downs also hopes to “deepen the avidity of existing fans” so that whether the team wins or loses, fans feel that they have a reason to stay loyal to the team. To achieve this, Downs and his marketing team focus primarily on the emotional and nostalgic attachments existing fans have with the Ravens that can be used as an example to hopefully engage others looking to have a similar experience. Often advertised, stories of the relationships between parents with their children, siblings and friends have been successfully marketable for the Ravens, focusing on the strength of each relationship being found in mutual attendance of games and the following of players.

One of the most important marketing initiatives for the Ravens is their idea of “I, We, and the Core Team.” The “I” focuses on engaging more people in actually participating in the sport. Whether this is through Downs’ RISE campaign or electronic forms of the game, like fantasy football or the “Madden” video game series, Downs cites those who actually participate in the sport as being more likely to prioritize following the sport on a professional level. The “We” is the social component of the initiative. Like being involved in the game first-hand, Downs also stresses the importance of enjoying the experience of watching the Ravens play with friends and family. These connections are what create such successful advertisements. The “Core Team” is the Ravens players themselves. It is crucial for fans to want to be up-to-date on the whereabouts of their favorite players, which is made much easier through social media.

Social media plays a huge role in increasing the Ravens’ fan base. The more the existing fan base is engaged with the players, the more they will post about it on platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. It is Downs’ hope that these posts will eventually reach others and get them involved in the fan base as well.

Downs also stresses the importance of always being aware of what is happening on a national and global scale to avoid advertising controversies. The four overarching goals of the brand are to honor the history of Baltimore, celebrate the legacy of the team and their achievements, embrace the Ravens’ intimidation factor on game day, and rally Ravens’ fans for each game. However, these initiatives must be executed tastefully, leaving no room for the chance of insensitivity when it comes to marketing their brand.

“The common thread between all audiences is the team,” said Downs, stressing the importance of strengthening the Ravens’ marketing overall to further engage their followers. Though the team has experienced numerous downfalls and will inevitably face more, through Downs’ initiatives for fan engagement and successful marketing tactics, the Ravens and their fans remain intact and continue to strengthen as a team with each game.


Featured photo courtesy of Keith Allison

Article photos courtesy of Kaitlin Quiqley

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Brad Downs describes building the Raven brand at annual DeFrancis Lecture