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The Green Bay Packers' Gabrielle Valdez Dow on Tracking the Fan Journey and Keeping Them Engaged

Gabrielle Valdez Dow, VP, Marketing & Fan Engagement at the Green Bay Packers


Max speaks with Gabrielle Valdez Dow, VP, Marketing & Fan Engagement at the Green Bay Packers football team. They discuss how the Packers create personalized experiences for their fans across digital channels and in the stadium, how they adjust their messaging based on wins or losses, and how they’re tracking the “driveway-to-driveway” fan journey to increase engagement. They also talk about what channels are most successful, advice for marketers, and what the future of fan engagement will look like.

Topics discussed

  • The necessity of retaining and engaging sports fans year round, not just during the season.
  • The ways in which the Packers adjust their messaging after wins or losses in order to continue to engage fans.
  • The success of different mediums for the Packers and how to measure successful fan engagement across platforms.
  • How to create personalization across various channels like email and app, and the potential for personalization in more passive channels like TikTok and YouTube.
  • How the Packers are tracking the fan journey, creating opportunities for touchpoints and connection, and rewarding fan engagement.
  • Advice for marketers that are just getting started or who want to go into the sports industry.
  • What the future of fan marketing will look like across digital channels and in the stadium.

But now, like every other company, it's 365 days a year. And the NFL has evolved into understanding that we need to retain and engage our fans 365 days a year. So the easiest way to retain fans, obviously, is to win, in our business. Winning cures all, but not everyone wins. The NFL understood that. So they created tentpole initiatives to wrap fandom around.

Guest biography

Gabrielle Valdez Dow

Gabrielle Valdez Dow

Vice President, Marketing & Fan Engagement
Green Bay Packers

  • Joined the Packers organization as Vice President of Marketing and Fan Engagement in 2014.
  • Has 29 years of experience in professional sports, entertainment and venues, including eight years with the Baltimore Ravens as Vice President of Marketing.
  • Other pro sports experience includes the NHL’s Florida Panthers and AEG, marketing the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers, as well as the Staples Center, Kodak Theatre and The Forum.

Company overview

Green Bay Packers, Inc. operates a national football league team in the United States. The company was founded as Green Bay Football Corporation in 1919 and changed its name to Green Bay Packers, Inc. in 1935. Green Bay Packers, Inc. is based in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Industry: sports |

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Gabrielle Valdez Dow
But now, like every other company, it’s 365 days a year. And the NFL has evolved into understanding that we need to retain and engage our fans 365 days a year. So the easiest way to retain fans, obviously, is to win. In our business, winning cures all. But not everyone wins. And so how NFL understood that. So they created kind of tent full initiatives to wrap fandom around you. 

Max Koziolek
Hey, everyone, and thanks for listening to the one to one consumer marketing podcast. Today welcome Gabriel Dow, VP marketing and fan engagement and the iconic Green Bay Packers, a football team with 13 championships, four super bowls and a century long legacy. Whether you’re into football, marketing or both, this one is a touchdown. Let’s kick off. Gabriel, thanks for chatting with me today.

Gabrielle Valdez Dow
Thank you for letting me join you. 

Max Koziolek
Before we get started, why don’t you tell us a little bit more about your journey from the days of your internship with Portland Trail Blazers to your current leadership role at the Green Bay Packers. 

Gabrielle Valdez Dow
Thanks, Max. As I kind of tell every college student or grad student, regardless of your business interest, the opportunity to intern for anything that you’re interested in that’s a path to your career is something that I always recommend. And so because I started as an intern and back then, obviously internships were much more different. They weren’t paid. Sometimes you didn’t even receive college credits. So the opportunity to go out there and intern, now all internships are now paid, but to do that during whether you’re going to school either in college or grad school or even in high school is a great opportunity to get your foot into any door. So I started my career as an intern for the Portland Trail Blazers. I was going to law school and business school at Oregon and I drove an hour and a half north. So my college was in Eugene and the internship obviously was in Portland. 

Gabrielle Valdez Dow
And I started working for the Portland Trail Blazers attorney at just a clerk and then jumped over to the PR department as they discovered know I knew how to write and I was organized and helped them out on game days. And so that was kind of my foot in the door while I was getting my law degree and MBA at University of Oregon. So commuting back and forth during that season and then from there working in Los Angeles and opening Staples center, which I believe now it’s So in 99 and that internship, again, living with friends and working incredible hours led me to the road to getting a full time job at Staples center, which is now managed by AEG and working at three different venues. At the time it was the Kodak theater, which is the home of the Oscars, Staples center and then also the forum. 

Gabrielle Valdez Dow
So I had those three buildings from there transferred to the Florida Panthers for a marketing position, marketing manager of the team. And then a stint in North Carolina was the North Carolina Museum of Art. And then moved to the Baltimore Ravens. And now here the Green Bay Packers. And this is my 10th season with the team. 

Max Koziolek
That sounds amazing. That’s such an interesting background. Right? So a legal and a business background and somehow then went for football, which is a true passion, I assume. Very cool. I have for today. I think what really excites me is that sports is so many people love that it’s a passion. But on the other side, most marketing teams outside of sports have personas and ideal customer journeys. And if everything comes perfectly together, they turn a customer into a fan, right? So they have a high NPS score and they hope that the customer is referring some more. Right. But you have millions of raving fans. And to me, it’s interesting. What changes if you don’t work with, I would say, quote unquote, normal customers, but primarily work with raving fans. So how is it for you to do that marketing and that fan engagement? 

Gabrielle Valdez Dow
Well, in some ways we’re very similar to other organizations because we’re trying to retain and engage 365 days a year. So in sports, it used to be just during the season that whatever season, whether it’s the NFL, NBA, Major League Soccer, whatever season, Major League Baseball, whatever season that is, okay, that’s from this, I want to say August to January for the NFL. But now, like every other company, it’s 365 days a year. And the NFL has evolved into understanding that we need to retain and engage our fans 365 days a year. So the easiest way to retain fans, obviously, is to win. In our business, winning cures all, but not everyone wins. And so how NFL understood that? So they created kind of tent full initiatives to wrap fandom around or to engage fans that are fans of, say, the draft, or they’re engaged in free agency, or we have OTAs and training camp, or now they have another initiative called Back to Football, which is the Saturday that opens camp, preseason, regular season Super Bowl. 

Gabrielle Valdez Dow
And then right back, the calendar starts again into offseason and the combine. And those are all the high school players that are trying to make the NFL. So it has become a 365 days per year initiative. And so this giant doesn’t sleep just like every other business, and nor does the content that’s around all of that and the engagement that’s around all of that. 

Max Koziolek
That makes total sense. I mean, you have a little bit of a natural calendar, right? So there is every game, right? Then you have the different seasons and so on, right? So other businesses are looking, then, I don’t know, they have Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, and then, I don’t know, Thanksgiving and so on. It’s a completely much more tighter schedule to accommodate. Right? 

Gabrielle Valdez Dow
I mean, if you look at any kind of retail business, black Friday is a big deal, right, or the holidays, Christmas, and then you know that everything goes on sale after. So and then you look at those different as you just said, whether it’s Memorial Weekend or the July Labor Day weekend sales and different promotions and aspects that engage and retain your fans, the NFL. Yes, we celebrate all of those personal kind of tentold weekends and whatnot celebrations and even just different initiatives, whether it’s Hispanic Heritage Mark or Salute to Service or the Lung has just definitely tried touch on different community initiatives. And so just like businesses, you’re trying to continue to engage at every aspect. But for example, we don’t celebrate Black Friday, everyone. The packers, we have our own retail business. We’re one of the last two teams that own that business internally as a team, online and both brick and mortar and online. 

Gabrielle Valdez Dow
Excuse me, but Black Friday for us, it’s not a big driver. What is game day and obviously game weekends and obviously playoffs. But unlike other businesses, Black Friday does not do much for our business. 

Max Koziolek
So for you, Black Friday are the playoffs. 

Gabrielle Valdez Dow
Exactly. That’s a great or if we’re fortunate enough know, make that big game in. 

Max Koziolek
You know, all weekend, all week because you mentioned that. Right. So the best fan engagement is to win. How do you adjust your strategy based on you only know if you won the game or not. You know that very much on the spot. Right? But how do you change strategy if you won the game or you lose the game? Is there something you have then if this, that or you don’t adjust, you only adjust after a certain streak or how do you do that? 

Gabrielle Valdez Dow
That’s a really great question. I think we obviously turn the page if we’ve lost. You focus always on the positives and you try to focus on the benefits or the future. So if we lose a game, we definitely turn the page right away and we move on to the following week. And then from there we have plans and kind of an A plan, a B plan. So we definitely have the A plan if we win, the lead plan if we don’t. And that goes back to engaging our fan a different way. So that content might not be about the loss, it’s more about how to connect with the team in a different way or showcase something else about the team that pivots from that loss. So if something that’s coming up on fail or the content is about getting back to practice and doing something different. 

Gabrielle Valdez Dow
And again we have press conference every single day. So coaches is at the podium or assistant coaches. So for us, the business a little easier for us because that message can change and we can kind of focus that content day to day on different people who are speaking within from our organization, whether it’s players or coaches or other different initiatives that are going around on around Lambeau Field. 

Max Koziolek
Understood, understood. All these different measures you take based on win or loss. Right. But what does success look like for you and how do you measure it? 

Gabrielle Valdez Dow
Well, I mean, that depends on the medium. So let’s think about so you have success from ticket sales on a sellout or success from impressions and content that our fans are engaging with and that changes per medium as well. Or success based on our emails and who’s opening them and responding to them, or clicking through an email to get to a sale or a promotion, whether it’s in retail, whether it’s headed to our Hall of Fame, or whether it’s visiting Titletown. So we have so many different, I want to say avenues of connections and engagement. Each one’s different and success is different depending on which one we’re talking about. 

Max Koziolek
Understood, understood. From these different mediums and avenues, you have what’s currently for you, the most successful one and which is not working for you? 

Gabrielle Valdez Dow
Oh, that’s a great question. I think success for us, well, obviously would know twitter, our digital content, digital media, our broadcast you mean radio? Believe it or not, our fans still wish for radio follow our game day broadcast and our pregame and post game shows. So those are great successes. I would say the one medium that we need to do better in is TikTok. And so that is something that we can’t just repost what we’re doing on other mediums, you have to have organic and authentic content and it has to be on point and current and quick. And so how do you do that with limited access or initiatives and staff? So we’re working through that. That’s something that we definitely need to strengthen and we know that. 

Max Koziolek
Very interesting. Very interesting. I assume that there’s a lot of engagement around real time messages you could send. So right, I mean, right after the game you shooting out an email or something like this to say that’s the result and now we take action or celebrate together. How fast are you, is the entire team in when it’s game day? 

Gabrielle Valdez Dow
Yes, absolutely it is. And so, whether home or away, we are actively working on all of our social platforms and our website. So our writers, I mean, at home it’s easier because you can head up to your office and get all that done and we have a press box when we’re traveling away, our writers are literally pulling away on the team bus to get on the plane and Wes and Mike are pounding away on stories and content. Our video producers, our shooters, are using the Jero to edit and move content up and get it back here to home. So they’re downloading everything, they’re pushing everything out and then our social team is posting all along during the game. That’s actually the busiest time because the content has to keep going at a pace that’s fast and serious. 

Max Koziolek
Very interesting. So that seems like for you content is king, is that right? 

Gabrielle Valdez Dow
Absolutely, yes. That nailed it. Content focus is content. 

Max Koziolek
So the medium is important but you basically have to stream and be present on every channel and adjust the content for every channel in order to have active fan engagement. That’s very cool. 

Gabrielle Valdez Dow
And each channel is different and each channel speaks to a different demographic. My children, my kids do not know nothing about Facebook. They do not get on Facebook and I had to create a Snapchat account to talk to them. And my son will not know email and he is 14. He does not know what an email is. He doesn’t use email. My daughter barely uses email and she’s 18. Yeah, and it’s very interesting. And my son text is okay, but Snapchat, that’s how we talk. That’s interesting. And how it has evolved. I mean, when I grew, we didn’t even have peers. We had a word processor. So it’s just definitely technology has evolved and how do we as marketers continue to engage our consumers on their level and the future to reach that younger generation? 

Max Koziolek
I 100% agree that’s what we also see, right? So when we enable these companies, these large companies to use messaging, often they do that exactly to reach different demographics, right? Because email you have still a radio, right? So email is a little bit like a radio, will never be that. But of course the demographics are on that. We’re using this very actively, privately is just very different was ten years ago. Yeah, 100% agree. That’s exactly what we see as well. Maybe we shift a little bit to personalization because I think the personalizing, the message right, to a consumer is absolutely key. I mean, the medium is key, the content is key, but personalization is as well. I know that’s a lot of big challenge for that. How do you do that? How do you apply personalization in your current technology stack but also in your customer or fan journeys and obviously depends. 

Gabrielle Valdez Dow
On the medium you’re talking to them. So I can definitely personalize an email and we can personalize we have a program, a loyalty program called Packers Perks. And in there we definitely are creating actually personal journey. So we want to know what your journey is and how you engage when you come to Lambeau Field and whether you shop in a pro shop, whether you ordered a hot dog at the concession stand or even swing by one of our partners. So we’re working through that process right now. And email is now another way we personalize and connect with our fans. But I’m actually more interested in how businesses are connecting fans through say TikTok or even YouTube and Reels. How are other businesses personalizing? Because I don’t know if that can have any type of personalization. It’s more just this quick bite size piece of content that you’re commenting on or you’re watching or you’re interested in, because that is something oh, I just saw so and so influencer. 

Gabrielle Valdez Dow
Do A, B and C. I want to do that. I don’t know how personal that is. Except that you’re interested in just following what someone else is doing. 

Max Koziolek
That’s a good question. I have a feeling that the algorithms there are doing a big part of the TikTok feed is very personalized to your behaviors. But in you outsourcing the personalization to other platforms, which has pros and cons depending on what you want to achieve. But are there other technologies you excited about as well, aside from unlocking the channel TikTok? 

Gabrielle Valdez Dow
We’re again going back to that kind of well, we call it Packers ID, but that driveway to driveway fan journey for us is something that we’re embarking on. And when you leave your home and you’ve opened our app and you’re connecting with us and you’re coming to a game, what does that journey mean to you, and how are you connecting and for us to be able to feed you information? So if you happen to drive by a local partner of ours, which is quick trip to the gas station and we’re going to ping you on the offers there, because A you’re a partner of ours and a fan. Of ours. But B, it’s our partnership. And C you’re heading in the direction that we know that we’re heading to a gate that has that retail space. Then what does that mean? And then when you get in the building, what is your journey like? 

Gabrielle Valdez Dow
And how are we rewarding you for being a part of our family and doing certain things within our space? So right now, our rewards program, if you open it and connect with us, you actually get rewards for reading articles or watching a video. And that’s all through our website. And then if you look at our social platform through our site, it’s all connected so we can follow along and see what you’re doing. But you’re also getting rewarded for engaging with us on a daily basis. 

Max Koziolek
That’s remarkable. That’s very cool. And I mean, this idea that so many offline data, online data, bringing this all together sounds like a huge lift you’re doing there. 

Gabrielle Valdez Dow
Yes, we have some really great people here. My colleagues are much smarter than I am, and two great humans. Garrison coming us up. And I always joke, I’m like, Garrison, you got to dumb this down for me a little bit because you’re getting too technical. How does this work? So you just empower really intelligent people to help us get there? All the kudos goes to them. 

Max Koziolek
Yeah. Shout out to the team and everything. Yeah, everything for the fans, right? 

Gabrielle Valdez Dow

Max Koziolek
When you think about your career and, I mean, you have now almost three decades in the industry, but what are your top three pieces of advice you have for other marketers which might be inside football or outside football which you wish to know at the start of your career. 

Gabrielle Valdez Dow
Well probably going back to internships I wish I kind of knew my path earlier on. I kind of started my career in grad school and didn’t stumble upon what I wanted to do until grad school. And just by default, it wasn’t because I love sports. That’s not why I got into this business. And I always tell young people who interview for us, everyone loves sports. Please do not tell me you love sports. What I need you to love is I need you to love the business of sports. If you love the business of sports, that’s completely different. You understand behind the scenes what that business is then I’m interested in hiring you because everyone’s a fan and everyone loves sport. I always encourage people if you truly love this business or any business that you’re interested in then talk about the business behind it versus the love of it in front of it. 

Gabrielle Valdez Dow
I guess the other things I would say about advice is as I get older, I try to listen more and learn more and realize I wish I listened more when I was younger too, because there’s so many just different people in this business. And just you and I were talking about a book that I had not read from Bill Walsh. Just listening more. Now you can with podcasts and now you can with Know we all work. These incredible hours but know to any type of educational program or book or anything to help your career, I would highly recommend. And then lastly, you work every single day. Make sure you love what you do. I mean just love what you do because we don’t work more than we enjoy. Family and friends versus we’re at this job 24/7 nowadays I would recommend everyone. 

Max Koziolek
Love what they do fully agree with that. That’s very good advice especially you need to like the business behind that because that’s probably true for outside of sports also I don’t know for luxury right? So people adore certain brands and they want to work there but if you don’t like the business of that’s probably not going to make you happy and or successful right? So really like that very cool coming. 

Gabrielle Valdez Dow
From well you’ll be more successful if you understand and love the business. We know people who are lifers but when you really love the business you’re going to grow in that career and be willing to move too and be willing to change cities or go after that next level of experience you want. 

Max Koziolek
100% agree I think especially for I mean we got also during COVID so used to the remote world right for a lot of retention marketers it’s completely fine. They can do their job from the desk but it’s probably faster and easier to grow in an organization when you were there, especially when you’re young. 

Gabrielle Valdez Dow
And that’s a mindset. I think that’s just generational too, as well. 

Max Koziolek
Yeah. Coming from the Albert, the past to the future. So five years from now, what do you think will the future of consumer marketing look like, especially in the world of sports? 

Gabrielle Valdez Dow
I think back to what you had mentioned earlier, algorithms and understanding influencers and how those influencers affect your fans algorithms and what they follow, I think that is going to be a game changer down the road. I think you’re going to see communication via apps and social platforms. I think fax, emails, those type of typical traditional communication will probably be gone, and then access into stadiums is going to be faster. I always think of, like, know at some point you’re going to walk in and they’re going to know, kind of scan your phone even faster or read your phone kind of like the Amazon go doors where it knows who you are right away just by your device and in and out you go. And so whether you’re in line for concessions, whether you’re trying to get in, I think all of that will change in how you enter an exit. 

Max Koziolek
That’s a very good outlook. Gabriella, thank you so much. That’s all we’re going to have time to cover today. But if people want to follow your journey, where should they go? 

Gabrielle Valdez Dow
I laughed because we talked about this earlier. Don’t follow my journey. Follow the team. But I would say just on LinkedIn, it’s fine, but please visit and any packers social platforms, I totally promote. 

Max Koziolek
We will link all of that and we will link The Score Takes Care of Itself from Bill Walsh, which is really a fantastic business book. And knowing that your father was playing under Bill Walsh right. Makes it absolutely worth to link it. 

Gabrielle Valdez Dow
Oh, I appreciate that. Yeah. My dad played with Dick Vermeil at San Jose State, and Bill Walsh was one of these different coaches, so he had a long friendship with both gentlemen. And obviously, I grew up in the Bay Area, so I used to follow the 49 ers and the Oakland Raiders when I was a kid, too. But it’s not the reason I got into sport by any means, stumbled upon this career and just love the business of selling tickets. 

Max Koziolek
Thank you so much and let’s keep in touch. Take care. 

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