Episode 14

In this episode of the Press Play Podcast, host Derek Gerber talked with Ryan Vanlow, Director of Corporate Partnerships for the Oklahoma City Dodgers. Like the rest of the world, Ryan has had to be highly adaptable over the last year and a half. Tune in to hear how the Dodgers organization embraced the digital movement and prioritized relationship building on its way to another successful season!

“I’m a huge believer that just because someone says no, it might be no for this season, but you have to keep building that relationship.”


The MLB enforced ever-changing attendance regulations, and his partners all showed varying levels of comfort attending games as the pandemic’s numbers ebbed and flowed. As a result, Ryan learned to modify the organization’s product offerings to maximize returns on his partners’ marketing campaigns while leaning on the trust he had cultivated within these relationships.

Going Digital

The pandemic forced Ryan to re-think the sponsorship packages that the Dodgers organization offers its partnering brands, ultimately resulting in innovative offerings expected to last long past the pandemic. Mostly, this involved taking many physical advertising spaces and tailoring them to fit within the digital realm.

One of the best examples of these transformations is the team’s PlayBall! program, which is typically handed out to fans at each game. Like a regular gameday program, it includes both teams’ rosters, a scorecard, and other game notes, as well as advertisements from the organization’s partners.

Because of health and safety protocols, the team isn’t handing out physical program versions at each game. Rather than losing a large chunk of advertising space for the year, the organization created a digital version of the program for each game.

With the digital program, Ryan can now offer improved advertising opportunities to the brands he works alongside. While the physical program only allowed for a brand’s logo to be printed on the roster page, the digital program creates an opportunity to hyperlink a brand’s website on the same page. These trackable movements provide an opportunity to receive more data and have better proof of ROI for the Dodgers’ partners.

Building Relationships

During the pandemic, Ryan has experienced the value of building solid relationships with the organization’s partnering brands more than ever before. The pandemic has affected everyone over the last year and a half, and advertising campaigns were no exception. Loss of campaign funding, advertising space opportunities, and uncertainty about the future led many brands to pull or defer the campaigns they had scheduled with the Dodgers.

I’m a huge believer that just because someone says no, it might be no for this season, but you have to keep building that relationship.” (23:09)

By staying focused on the relationship with the partners rather than a single campaign sale, Ryan has kept the door open for future campaigns with several brands. Ultimately, he understands that present circumstances might not allow for a current partnership, but the future is full of possibilities.

The circumstances of the last year and a half also affected each partnering brand’s needs. As the organization pivoted its sponsorship offerings, Ryan emphasized the importance of listening to the partnering brand’s needs.

When you know the material and you listen to your client, they’re going to tell you what they want, what they do, and if they do something in the market already.” (17:42)

By adopting digital advertising practices and prioritizing relationship building, Ryan has led the Oklahoma City Dodgers organization to another successful season!

How is your brand engaging with its community and utilizing storytelling in its marketing strategy?


(0:40) Introducing Ryan Vanlow
(4:18) Taking partnerships digital
(10:44) The PlayBall! program
(14:44) What campaigns are happening now?
(17:13) Differentiating yourself in sports marketing
(24:51) Mythbusting
(27:50) What’s next for Ryan and the OKC Dodgers?


Derek Gerber
Ryan Vanlow
OKC Dodgers


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