Globetrotters seek AOR for mainstream return

PHOENIX: The Harlem Globetrotters have issued an RFP for an AOR as part of a plan to re-enter the pop culture scene, said the team's recently hired CEO.

PHOENIX: The Harlem Globetrotters have issued an RFP for an AOR as part of a plan to re-enter the pop culture scene, said the team's recently hired CEO.

The team has until now relied on outside publicists only for specific projects and to assist with local media relations.

The Globetrotters have "tremendous brand awareness, but low brand saliency," said CEO Kurt Schneider, who left his role as EVP of marketing at World Wrestling Entertainment to join the Phoenix-based team in May.

By complementing the team's four-person PR staff with a midsize agency partner, he explained, the 81-year-old organization can better focus on reconnecting with fans and "get back into water-cooler talk."

The team is looking for a firm that "can firmly play in both the sports and entertainment realm," Schneider said, "people who understand what our brand means and can deliver our guys into mainstream America."

In the '70s and '80s, the Globetrotters interacted with fans across multiple channels, he said, from live events and licensed merchandise to Hanna-Barbera cartoons and guest appearances on TV shows, including Gilligan's Island, and Sesame Street.

Today, the team has only one consumer touch point: the games. But the vision for the year ahead "is to use that heritage to build a relationship with fans 365 days a year," Schneider noted.

To do so, it will work to promote its own identifiable stars, he explained, as a new generation of former greats like Meadowlark Lemon and Curly Neal. The team is refocusing attention on its consumer products business, as well, and has developed a "more robust" Web site, set to launch in October.

The Globetrotters also will continue their roles as "ambassadors of good will," said Schneider. Since its inception, the team has visited schools, hospitals, and community centers throughout its 200-city-a-year travels.

The Globetrotters' RFP process is ongoing.

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