- Major League Baseball (MLB) has hired Karin Timpone as executive vice president, CMO, filling a role that has been empty since 2016, according to an announcement. She will report to Chris Marinak, MLB's chief operations and strategy officer.
- Timpone is a marketing veteran who served as global CMO for Marriott International from 2013 to 2020, per her LinkedIn page. She also previously held roles as senior vice president of digital media for The Walt Disney Company and head of marketing at Yahoo! Media Group before becoming its head of consumer/customer innovation.
- Timpone brings a background in digital marketing that could help MLB explore areas of interest including loyalty and blockchain, as well as remedy enduring problems that have beset the league's appeal to younger consumers.
MLB's hiring of Karin Timpone sees the league making moves to strengthen its digital marketing efforts. Timpone is a veteran of the industry who has helped bring digital tactics to Marriott International, Disney and Yahoo! Media Group. While this new role marks Timpone's first as an executive in the sports marketing world, through her previous positions she has worked with professional leagues — experience that could help to streamline her integration into the new role.
Timpone will be MLB's first CMO since 2016 and will aim to end a period of stagnancy in the league's marketing. As opposed to sister leagues like the NFL and NBA, the MLB has been criticized for its lack of star power, a problem that has fueled its lacking online presence and turned away younger audiences. By activating many of the new media channels that have emerged since 2016, Timpone can potentially rectify these issues.
Deepening customer loyalty, for example, is one of MLB's goals that can be achieved through effective digital marketing. While CMO of Marriott International, Timpone helped develop Marriott's loyalty program, Marriott Bonvoy, which relied on a revamped mobile app and stronger focus on data-driven technology. Such programs could grow in importance as changes in data collecting continue to impact the marketing world.
Blockchain is another area of interest for the league, according to the announcement, as it is for Timpone, per her LinkedIn page. Nonfungible tokens (NFTs) are increasingly being activated by marketers, especially sports marketers looking for new ways to engage already fervent fan bases. With the NBA having an NFT marketplace and the NFL considering building one of its own alongside individual teams' efforts, MLB has already made small moves toward integrating the assets. Timpone could potentially fortify these activations to a more consistent media strategy to meet the league's growing interest.
Despite Timpone's hiring, marketing challenges could persist for MLB as the COVID-19 delta variant continues to spread through the country. For a league that heavily relies on in-person attendance, pandemic trouble could be even more significant, though Timpone could begin to mitigate these issues with a focus on digital strategies.