DoubleTree Hilton’s Cookie Care Campaign Celebrates Wrigley’s 100th Anniversary

People of Chicago: prepare yourselves.  Today, the mouth-watering aroma of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies will replace the familiar smell of deep dish pizza wafting through the Windy City.

Thanks to DoubleTree by Hilton’s Cookie Care campaign, 10,000 delicious cookies will be distributed to fans in celebration of Wrigley Field’s centennial.  The giveaway project, which launched last month in New York City, was started to celebrate the milestone of more than 300 million warm cookies greeting hotel guests at check-in for over 25 years.  The cookie trail has reached many cities, including Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and most recently honored Boston Strong at Monday’s 118th Boston Marathon.

If you will be in Chicago today: head over to Sheil Park near Wrigley Field – the Cookie Care team will be out there from 12:00 – 2:00PM!  There, you will receive two cookies – one to keep and one to share with a friend, family member, or loved one.

Nowhere near Chicago?  Visit and tweet #CookieCare for your chance to win instant prizes and DoubleTree hotel stays.  Share your ideas on how you would make the most of Cookie Care in your community, and your city could be chosen for a delicious surprise!    

Check out DoubleTree by Hilton on Twitter and Facebook to learn more about the Cookie Care campaign. Below are a few pictures from the Cookie Care team in New York last month.



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Michael Landsberg’s Passion Burst Through as Keynote Speaker at the 2014 Sports Industry Conference

On March 12th, 2014, Michael Landsberg spoke at the annual Sports Industry Conference, hosted by UTSB. This is a semi-recap of his keynote. A review of the panels can be found here.

Love him or hate him, Michael Landsberg is one of the most well-known sports broadcasters on Canadian television. Captivating audiences for 17 years, his show, Off the Record, has become the longest-running sports talk show in Canada.

However, it wasn’t an easy road. Born and raised in Toronto to a Jewish family, Landsberg felt an immense amount of pressure to go the same route that the rest of his family did: to become a lawyer, a doctor, or an accountant, even though none of those things spoke to him. The pressure wasn’t directly from his family, though. Instead, it was really pressure that he put on himself – he didn’t know anything else, and it was what everyone else was doing.

Landsberg first attended the University of Toronto in 1977, but you won’t see him on any alumni lists. In his third year, while parking his mother’s power blue Mustang before an exam, he came to a realization that what he was about to do was insane. “I’m going to fail this exam, so why should I go inside to get told by someone that I’m a failure?”

It was at that moment when Landsberg made the decision to join UofT radio. Without much of a choice, Landsberg decided to chase his impossible dream of becoming a sports broadcaster.

It’s always a profound moment when you first do something that you love. In Landsberg’s case, it was the simple action of pressing a button.

The red light turned on. And he spoke. An exhilarating feeling that he’d never felt before crashed across his body. He wanted more.

With that, his impossible dream became possible. The next day, he applied to Ryerson’s Radio and Television program and was accepted.

When you’re passionate about something, you never feel like it’s work. You do it because you love it, not because you feel like you have to. Landsberg had bundles of passion waiting to explode, and turned it into a very successful career.

When Michael Landsberg first shared his depression, it wasn’t just so that people would know about it; it was so that he could help others who were suffering from the same thing that he was going through.

But by all rights, just admitting that you are sick doesn’t mean the world stops. While it may mean the world to you, to the rest of the world, your illness may just be trivia. That’s why Landsberg made it his mission to let people know that mental health awareness was a legitimate concern.

He doesn’t want you to call him brave for speaking about his experiences, though. For him, it’s the easiest thing to do. He knows that by speaking, he can change lives – even if only one life is changed for the better.

Depression is a serious illness that millions of people around the world suffer from, and yet there is still a stigma that is glued onto it.It’s a mental illness rather than a physical one. It’s rare that you’d ever get someone so blatantly open about it that it’s as obvious as most physical illnesses.

But depression doesn’t necessarily equate to being suicidal. Instead, it’s an illness where you just don’t want to be anything, when you feel a general lifelessness. And some people are incredibly good at hiding this and putting on a “mask.”

Michael Landsberg is a great example of this. Great entertainers can do this – Freddie Mercury, one of the greatest frontmen in rock history, was known to be quiet and reserved when he was off the stage. But it delves deeper than this. It’s not just on stage when Landsberg had to put on this mask, but for most of his days too. Nobody notices that you’re sick, and nobody will unless you tell them. On these days, Landsberg didn’t want to be social, and only kept his thoughts to himself.

But he put on the mask and trucked on.

For someone without mental illnesses, it’s difficult to understand what a person suffering from depression is going through. They’re two completely different worlds, and though a “healthy” mind might not be all rainbows and butterflies, it is a radically different universe than the one that someone suffering from depression is living in. Some people without depression may just speak from their perspective: they may tell their friend to “get out of bed” or “go outside,” but it’s really not that simple for someone with depression. As Landsberg says, “It makes just as much sense as telling someone with pneumonia to get out of bed or go outside.”

Landsberg has wise words for people suffering from mental illnesses: “Educate yourself about your illness, because knowledge is power… You need to accept that it’s not a weakness, it’s an illness.”

To help Landsberg’s cause, use the hashtag #sicknotweak.

A lifelong Toronto sports fan, Daniel has endured many miserable times as a fan while watching on television and at games. Currently a student at the University of Toronto, Daniel is also the Head Blogger for the University of Toronto Sports and Business student organization.

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NCAA Men’s Hockey Teams Up With John Buccigross To Reveal Top Seeds In Tournament Before Selection Show

2014 Frozen FourThe NCAA found a fun and unique way to unveil the top four seeds for the upcoming NCAA Men’s Hockey Tournament. The Selection Show airs on ESPNU at 12pm ET today, but the NCAA teamed up with John Buccigross to reveal the top four seeds and the regions of the bracket in which they’ll be playing before the show begins. At 11am ET, @NCAAIceHockey announced the overall #1 seeds in alphabetical order. After the seeds were announced @Buccigross revealed the order and the location of the seeds. The integration with Twitter won’t detract fans from watching the Selection Show as the rest of the field still needs to be announced including the bubble teams and the the opponents of the top seeds.

Here’s how it all went down on Twitter…

Then Buccigross proceeded to announce the top four seeds by ranking and their region.

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Panel Recap of the 2014 Sports Industry Conference

On March 12, 2014, the University of Toronto hosted distinguished members of the sports industry to speak at the Sports Industry Conference. For those in attendance, the speakers provided valuable insights into the industry, through the three panels and keynote. The event was also live streamed, and can be watched below.

Moderators are in bold.



Speakers: Richard Powers (Associate Dean and Executive Director, Rotman MBA), Matt Maccarone (Manager of Sports Marketing, Nike Canada), Greg Woods (Head of Marketing and Partnerships, UFC Canada), Corey Friesen (Director of Marketing, Under Armour Americas), Keith Gordon (President, NFL Players Inc.)

With a heavy focus on marketing, this panel appropriately featured marketing executives from sports apparel companies, the UFC, and NFL Players Inc.

Though there were strict rules against marketing at the Sochi Olympics, Nike and Under Armour did it anyways, creatively – because anytime you can further your brand on an international stage, you do it! In Nike’s case, to show off their brand, they used one of their most marketable athletes, Alex Bilodeau. Bilodeau, wearing a hat with a Nike swoosh under his helmet, was trained to take his helmet off whenever he could, basically becoming a walking advertisement for Nike.

Meanwhile, Under Armour was fortunate enough to provide the uniforms for the U.S. Olympic speed skating team at Sochi, but were embroiled in controversy when the team failed to meet expectations. The athletes put the blame on the new uniforms; even changing to the older Under Armour suits. Still, another deal was signed, this time for 8 years (covering two Olympics), which would give a chance for Under Armour to “fix” the uniform.

The UFC in particular is a brilliant example of good marketing. In Canada, the UFC is experiencing massive growth. Currently, on a per-capita basis, Canada consumes more MMA than any other nation. Dana White, the commissioner of the UFC, is an interesting case because he is unlike most other commissioners. For one, White is younger than commissioners in the NHL, NBA, NFL, and MLB. At the sprightly age of 44, White is much more tech-savvy than other league bosses. He’s made it a priority that Twitter be a big part of what the athletes do, providing incentives in cash to fighters who compose good tweets. Dana himself is a huge personality, and is extremely active on Twitter on his own as well. In many ways, he is the face of his own league, which some purists may be against. However, there is no denying that he has been behind a huge growth in the UFC.

The coming out of Jason Collins and Michael Sam was also touched on. Keith Gordon, in comparing the styles of David Stern (NBA commissioner) and Roger Goodell (NFL commissioner), mentioned Jason Collins as an example of Stern’s willingness to be a pioneer. In the NFL, the owners are likely to not care at all about a player’s orientation, since teams are so dollar-driven.

The transformation of advertising is important as well: maybe ten or twenty years ago, pasting an athlete’s face on a cereal box would be positively grand for his brand. But in today’s world, it just doesn’t have the same impact. Instead, social media is coming to the forefront as a premier marketing strategy, since it builds an audience and keeps it in special ways.



Speakers: Matt Mitchell (Professor of Business Economics, Rotman), Alex Rucker (Senior Analytics Consultant, Toronto Raptors), Reid Mitchell (Director of Scouting Adiministration, Toronto Maple Leafs), Alex Burwasser (Analyst, Bloomberg Sports), and Timothy Chan (Industrial Engineering Professor, University of Toronto)

Appropriately sponsored by Bloomberg Sports, this discussion was the one that brought the most light to the way front offices in sports are run.

A big part of this panel was the relationship between analytics and scouting. In basketball, this is particularly difficult, since there are multiple variables that interfere when scouting prospects. How do you compare a professional in Europe to a college player? Every league plays a different game, and in these situations, it’s almost impossible to judge by stats. The differences in leagues are most glaring in basketball, since the rules are completely different. For instance, in his last year in Europe, Ricky Rubio’s stats were down across the board (4.8 ppg and 4.1 apg in 22 minutes). In his first season in the NBA, Rubio blew these numbers out, almost averaging a double double with 11 and 8. What the numbers don’t take into account are the huge differences between the European game and the American one. In Europe, players are given less freedom to do what they want. There is much more freelancing in the NBA, and because of this, some players are just more suited to play in American leagues than others.

In hockey, the struggle is just as real as it is in basketball. Leagues other than the NHL only keep stats for goals, assists, plus-minus, and penalty minutes, which, as Timothy Chan put it, is “like the NHL twenty years ago.” Advanced metrics are very difficult to find in these leagues, forcing an even stronger emphasis on attributes such as character, size, and play style.

Mentioned as a player who exceeded expectations, Connor Brown posted a horrendous -72 in his draft year. Brown is now leading the OHL by 20 points. Obviously there may be some inflation due to him playing with super-duper prospect Connor McDavid, but as Reid Mitchell said, “I’m not saying he’ll be in the Hall of Fame, but boy he’s got a good start.” Plus-minus is a causal stat, and based on a player’s environment, he may end up either posting a great number or a very disappointing one.

But the panel wasn’t just limited to scouting – if it were, Alex Burwasser and Timothy Chan may have been left without much to say. The importance of “intangibles” and teamwork was in play, with Reid Mitchell placing high importance on both aspects of a player. In fact, traditional metrics were exposed to be of little importance when evaluating a player. However, there’s no doubt that there are statistics that teams use but hide from the public. More than anything, running a team is as much of a competition as what is going on during the matches. Each team is in a battle against each other. And because ultra-competitive people are running them, any kind of advantage will be used and protected.

When a player is performing well because of causal reasons, they become especially difficult to evaluate. Clearly there is no real way to know how good these players really are, which is evidenced by the multitude of bad deals that pro teams make. The Kunitz-Crosby relationship was used as an example: would Kunitz be as successful a player if Crosby were not his linemate? For scouts, it’s not enough to evaluate Kunitz when Crosby is out of the lineup, since with him out, there is a huge amount of cap space that would be filled if Crosby were not playing with him at all. This, however, only applies to salary cap leagues, where strategies that wouldn’t take place otherwise are employed.

In front offices, analytics play a huge role when contracts are being written. We are now seeing teams use more advanced stats than goals or assists when evaluating a player’s value. This often translates to better contracts, and a better way to correctly assess what a player is really worth.



Speakers: Gurdeep Ahluwalia (Anchor and Reporter, TSN), Debora Silveira (Senior Account Executive, Twitter Canada), Dave Hopkinson (Chief Commercial Officer, MLSE), Keith Gordon (President, NFL Players Inc.), James Duthie (Host, NHL on TSN)

Featuring people who have been on TV, and hosted by a very cool man, the Twitter panel was one that delved into fan interaction in sports and its growth as a result of social media.

When speaking about “trolls” on social media, James Duthie mentioned “Twitter Terrorism”, an act that him and his co-worker Bob McKenzie often engage in to combat attacks. One such act of Terrorism was when one person tweeted that he would kill Duthie’s son. Enraged, he went on a sleuthing tear that ended with him calling the tweeter’s hockey coach, getting him suspended from the team. In general, these hate tweets are a part of being on social media, and is nearly an expectation at this point. Because of this, it is necessary that public figures are careful about who they respond to and what they say online. As Duthie says, social media is a reflection of society in that most of the people are good, but the ones that are not may have a louder voice. A positive is that these few jerks are also shot down when they do gain traction, a reflection of the good on social media.

In MLSE’s case, Twitter is a huge part of their organization. The Leafs, Raptors, Toronto FC, and Marlies all follow back, since, as Dave Hopkinson puts it, “if you’re going to have an authentic connection, it needs to be two-ways.” The importance of this philosophy is that there is more fan engagement than if the organization saw it as only one-way street (such as Manchester United), and MLSE sees this two-way interaction as a good investment. An advantage for a company like MLSE is that they can see what fans are saying on a public forum, while engaging in the conversation.

It’s also interesting that some athletes who would be lesser known if it weren’t for Twitter have been able to build their brand through it. An example that was referenced is Paul Bissonnette (@BizNasty2point0), who is, by all rights, a marginal NHL player. Through Twitter, fans were exposed to his wit and humor, something you just don’t get from watching him on the ice. His hockey will always be mediocre on an NHL level, but when you compare him to a player like Phil Kessel, who rarely tweets but is an extremely skilled player, his personality shines through his Twitter account. Players are also given training throughout the year, and are told “don’t put anything in writing that you wouldn’t want on the front page of the newspaper.”

In the athletes’ case, Twitter is even more important because of sponsorships and endorsements. Almost all contracts now have a social media component involved, and because of this, the players could be more guarded than they usually are. A single tweet could change a person’s life.

Athletes will also use Twitter to engage in real-time connections. Twitter can create special moments for fans. Even a retweet or a reply by an athlete is special. Last offseason, Kevin Durant played pick-up with some fans at a local court, making their days. Did this build his brand? Yes, it did. Twitter offers the chance for athletes to maximize their potential as a brand. Because of this, many athletes have teams that help them decide what to tweet. An important note is that the tweets still need to be authentic, in that the athletes need to be themselves when they tweet. Fans want to know the person, not an account run by a group of marketers.

A lifelong Toronto sports fan, Daniel has endured many miserable times as a fan while watching on television and at games. Currently a student at the University of Toronto, Daniel is also the Head Blogger for the University of Toronto Sports and Business student organization.

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Infographic: 2014-2018 NCAA Championship Sites

In December, the NCAA released dates and locations for the 2014-2018 NCAA Championships and Regional events. Division I men’s basketball and women’s basketball were either excluded or only partially included as those host sites are determined at different times.

Along with the host sites, the NCAA published an infographic that outlined the bid process for prospective hosts. In total, 1,984 bid applications were submitted from which 523 sites were award a regional or championship. Kansas City, MO will host 14 championship events, more than any other city. Louisville, KY and Salem, VA were close behind, each hosting 13 championship events.

The full infographic is below. Happy March Madness!

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