New marketing plan is on agenda for Lions

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News

San Francisco — Although the Lions came up with the idea before Detroit filed for bankruptcy in July 2013, the motto of “One Pride” has served as a way to connect the franchise with the downtrodden city the past few years.

With the city showing improvement the past few years, though, the Lions believe it’s time to find a new way to represent Detroit.

The Lions recently fired their top two marketing directors, and in addition to promoting Kelly Kozole to senior vice president of business development, president Rod Wood said the team soon will hire another person to help with branding.

“We certainly like the ‘One Pride’ and ‘Defend the Den,’ ” Wood said last week. “Our fans like it, but maybe take it to another level. Keep those taglines, but build more around the whole city’s rebirth.

“When we started that it was when Detroit was kind of on its knees. We were going to be part of hopefully the rebirth. I think we still are and that’s continually, so we want to kind of take it now to the next level.”

The Lions have made several changes to their business operations in the past year, most notably firing president Tom Lewand along with general manager Martin Mayhew in November. Wood replaced Lewand and already has made some changes to the front office on the non-football side.

Two weeks ago, the Lions fired Elizabeth Parkinson, senior vice president of marketing and partnerships, and Jennifer Cadicamo, vice president of the same department. Now, Kozole will run marketing, events, corporate partnerships and other departments after being the vice president of events since 2002, including a role directing the Quick Lane Bowl.

“We have to have the best people in the right jobs to be successful,” Wood said. “I’m not sure the changes are completed, but we’re getting closer to being completed than not.

The changes, along with the increase in ticket prices, are meant to help the Lions increase revenue as they regularly rank among the worst teams in the NFL, according to Forbes’ annual studies. Forbes has the Lions 30th of the 32 teams at $1.44 billion, ahead of the Raiders and Bills.

“One of the things is we have to compete both on the field and off the field with all the other teams,” Wood said. “We need revenue to do that. I really wanted to consolidate all the sales functions under one person. We had a couple different people leading partnerships and sponsorships, somebody else leading ticket sales.

“Now, everything reports up to Kelly, so hopefully we can have a more coordinated effort on all of our sales and bring in somebody maybe that’s going to help us on the branding side, take it to another level. So, we’ll probably be announcing pretty soon, maybe a promotion on one side of the organization and maybe an outside hire on the other side.”

In addition to running the business operations, Wood played a key role in the search for a new Lions general manager. With Bob Quinn in place, Wood believes the Lions will have a chance this offseason to improve the team through free agency and the draft.

“I’m confident we’ve got the right team now to hopefully maximize the value of those picks,” he said.