“Football is a team sport” on and off the field and there is no better team player than Ronalee Zarate-Bayani, CMO of the LA Rams. I sat down with Ronalee to hear more about the years-long journey of opening the $5 billion LA Rams Stadium only to be pivoted by Covid-19, what it means to inspire Angelenos to shine bright from a long-term perspective, and how her mentors and immigrant parents gave her the courage to embrace opportunity.
Before chatting with Ronalee, I was able to take a sneak peak at what is now deemed “the largest stadium in the world” measuring 3.1 million square feet (!). Kieran Hannon, CMO of Openpath Security and a dear friend of ours, took on a special assignment for us as extended Adweek family and went to meet with Ronalee, and CTO Skarpi Hedinsson, for a special tour of SoFi Stadium before the big opening on September 13th. Check out the stadium for yourself here and take a look around (thanks again Kieran!).
“Marketing is one of those things where it’s really about authentically surfacing and shining a light on what already is. And I think sometimes it gets a bad rap because a lot of people think about the stories that you’re creating where really it’s just about the stories that you’re bringing to life that already exists.”
And the story that exists here is all about inspiring Angelenos to shine bright, according to Ronalee. Having spent years of planning with the LA Rams team on a whole new brand campaign, new uniforms, and a new stadium only to be sidelined by Covid, Ronalee saw this as a long-term game of doing what’s right for the fans and the organization. By partnering with the LA regional food bank to serve families within the LA area and joining forces with rapper/producer, Stix, to address social justice, the LA Rams team is tackling important foundational issues in order to enable their community to thrive.
Keeping the user journey top of mind, Ronalee and the team are bringing the stadium to the fans through technology, creativity, and innovation. “You could bring the Rams house to your living room,” states Ronalee as she describes the revolutionary AR 360 portal experience they will be providing fans. In addition to giving season ticket members an interactive second screen experience via mobile, fans will get to enjoy different aspects of the stadium such as “that magic moment” for a player as he preps and runs out of the player tunnel into the stadium.
“When a door opens that is unexpected and it is the right door and there is opportunity there, don’t be afraid to jump in.” Ronalee describes this as a common theme in her career journey that has led her to land this coveted marketing role. Raised by hard-working immigrant Philippine parents who arrived in the US with $50 in her mother’s pocket, Ronalee says this is where she learned the value of hard work, determination, and figuring things out on the fly. Not being prepared for corporate America following undergrad, Ronalee found a way through sheer determination and met mentors along the way that gave her the courage to continue finding steps forward and explore different verticals in her career.
Interestingly, though Ronalee’s career journey includes graduating from Stanford University with her MBA, she doesn’t always recommend the same path for all marketers. “An MBA isn’t necessarily for everyone, but I think what an MBA brings is a great deal of perspective…What an MBA does is allows you to see a full breath of what the possibilities can look like. And for someone like me, who didn’t have those role models growing up, who lived and breathed in these different careers, it was so eye opening and important for me to understand and connect the dots.”
Tune into the full story behind the LA Rams grand stadium opening and how it was more about their journey as a team than the actual destination.