About 40 years ago, when Rick Dudley leaving as a brand market to enter the business of sports, his boss on Richardson-Vicks advised him that he “lost his job.” Since then he has worked in high-profile advertising roles for three of the biggest stick-and-ball sports during their heyday, and has spent the last 20 years running. Octagonthe largest sports organization, it is clear that Dudley’s instincts were unusual, even at a time when most people thought that sports marketing meant filling your cart. Models or Herman is.

Looking through a retirement perspective that began a few months ago, Dudley now says he would have moved into corporate business sooner rather than later. “I couldn’t escape the desire to work in the league – that’s where everything was meant to be,” he said. “There are so many different things you can do in the corporate business. If I had known, I would have been in this business 10 years earlier.”

But His time as a stockbroker would have been missed in the industry as a whole. Dudley was among the promoters who were recruited to do the exercises at the time History of NFL Properties head John Bello. Since then, NFL sponsorships have grown from the thousands to the billions, in some cases.

After years of leading the development of sports marketing, Rick Dudley has announced his retirement. courtesy of the octagon

“We it went from NFL information security to a marketing company with the help of Rick and other things to buy guys who can speak the language of business people,” said Bello, who is now the owner. Reed’s/Virgil’s Natural Beverages. Rick was always very smart, persuasive, and direct. He was always good with people and ended up running an organization – the right place to develop that skill. “

No I was surprised that Dudley now counts his almost 20 years in the Octagon as his champion. Three leagues later, he found a place that could become famous in the game.

“The “The term ‘big brother’ is overused in this business, but Rick IS that guy,” he said Andrew Judelsondirector of marketing to Company proposal Endeavor’s Diamond Baseball Holdings. Judelson worked for Dudley in the NHL in the 1990s.

Dudley continued since the decade on NFL to MLB, then President of Opinions of the company NHL from 1994-98, as well as his NFL marketing brethren, including a former USTA executive. Arlen KantarianPresident of NASCAR Steve Phelpsand MLS Commissioner Don Garber, drew game plans for marketing teams that are still in use.

“You always looking for [IMG founder] Mark McCormack “When you talk about who started this business,” said Dudley, “but team sports are not the same as golf and tennis – leagues and team properties are very different.”

He said MLS Commissioner Garber: “Rick brought to the early days of the pro sports league a business school approach. He always thought less about selling and providing value – that’s what made him a successful person.”

Like Dudley added, “It was always nice to be involved in a trade, but for me, it’s always something we can do with them later.”

On the side from the increase in dollars involved in sports, for many years, Dudley has seen the business change from what would not do business with the dreams of the state, spirits, drugs, gambling and everything related to Las Vegas, embracing all. about them. MLB logos are now licensed to carry spirits; The NFL does business with eight bookmakers; and there’s a Vegas Super Bowl scheduled for 2024. Meanwhile, sports have become more mainstream in mass culture, raising their value to advertisers even more.

“Games.” it was on the back page,” Dudley said. “Now it’s on the front page, the back page, the people’s page, the arts and the business. The place that sports has found in society and culture is amazing; people forget that it wasn’t always like that.”

Asking Asking an advertiser to choose a favorite is like asking a parent to choose their favorite child. However, Dudley mentions Nextel is NASCAR’s major circuit title support in 2003 as a memorable one that “made the fifth race in the three-race series necessary.” The height of other Octagon customers, such as Bank of America, Bmw and Mastercard talks a lot about the culture of the organization, and about IPG general management of the shop.

I am it’s been around since March or so, but Dudley, who turns 69 this month, is sufficiently retired (“100% hard-hitting,” he vows) that you won’t find him on LinkedIn anymore. Before retiring, he decided to improve his golf handicap to single digits. Now he is well settled in young adulthood. He has been splitting his time between Florida and the Northeast, where he has been successful in fulfilling his promise to spend more time with his five grandchildren than he is approaching.

Atypically entangling himself in an ego-driven business, Dudley leaves with the confidence of a man who has accomplished the goal he set out for when he walked out the door at Richardson-Vicks. Things like games and pre-ordered exercises are called “Below the Line.” You weren’t sure if that was an insult, but you don’t hear those words anymore.

“We they want games to be as respected a tool as any tool,” Dudley said. “That now we’re under the umbrella of a marketing company. [Omnicom] it means we are on the same level as advertising, media, PR, and digital. It is accepted as the way companies look when they go to market. Sports advertising was a tent with a keg at the event, and then invited other customers. We are now competing with the big business shops with big ideas. “

Terry Lefton can be reached at tlefton@sportsbusinessjournal.com

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