This is part three of our interview with former Boston University and Boston Bruins goaltender Cleon Daskalaskis. Part one he weighed in on B.U. hockey and in part two we talked about the NHL lockout and the Boston Bruins. This time Daskalaskis tells us how the lockout can affect other businesses that are associated with the league.
Micah: Tell me about your company and what you’re doing with Celebrity Marketing. I want to know how the lockout affects businesses like yours. Because, your sport is a little different. If there is an NFL lockout, the players have nowhere to go play elsewhere and probably won’t be going too far. But hockey, these guys could be off in Europe for weeks or months. They aren’t around to do any charity work or events, how does this affect you?
Cleon: Well, there are two facets to what we do here. The first is Celebrity Marketing, which is a sports marketing company. We represent players and athletes in all sports. We utilize sports marketing assets starting with the players doing appearances and endorsements. And we also have a suite in the Garden and we do a lot of third-party client entertainment. Have suite partners come in and guys like Ray Bourque host them.
We also have a TV series on NESN where we highlight our players and what they do off the ice. And a lot of what we do is consult companies on how to best utilize one on one celebrity endorsements or we have shared assets like suites and dinners and private functions, where different companies might utilize that for their client entertainment.
Without hockey that hurts us because we’re without one of our biggest assets. The Garden and the suite and the entertainment that we do. Obviously, not having that ability to utilize our suite and bring clients and also generate revenue, that makes a huge difference. Short-term wise, a week or two might not make a whole lot of difference, but if we go for a long period of time, that has a huge effect.
Conversely, having some time off and having some players that are still here it allows us to work on some things that we typically wouldn’t be doing. One of our clients, Milan Lucic, because of the lockout, he’s been able to visit elementary schools during the daytime that he typically wouldn’t be able to do because of practice. Other players are gone, like Dennis Seidenberg. There are players around the league that are over playing in Europe. But also, you also have a situation where fans and corporations want things when they’re hot, and when you are in the middle of a lockout, it’s not hot.
Micah: Couldn’t get colder!
Cleon: Couldn’t really get much colder. Even when dealing with a corporation who says we want to work on our branding. They’ll want an athlete who is a current player or a retired player, but an in-limbo player is really hard, it’s different. And because of the nature of the lockout, a lot of these players are a bit in limbo.
Micah: Do corporate dollars tend to dry right up during a lockout?
Cleon: Well, it’s early on. Most of the major corporate sponsors are likely still on board and waiting patiently. They understand the business of it. But, at some point…even myself, I own a suite in the building. I need hockey to participate, so why do I want to lease a suite in a building that’s not being utilized? I can’t lease air. I can’t market air. And a corporation can’t brand themselves in the building with signage when no one is going in it.
Corporations understand the business and they know these things need to be worked out. But, there is a breaking point. There is patience early on, but at some point, someone has to go to their CEO and explain to them why they’re spending X amount of money to have signage on the side a building that no one is going to.
Micah: That makes sense.
Cleon: The second part of our business is our charitable foundation. Ray Bourque and myself founded the Celebrities for Charity Foundation a few years ago. What we do is we unite the good will of celebrities with the generosity of fans to help people in need. We set up technology and programs so that a celebrity can give back to the community. We’ve had a lot of success. Since 1997 we’ve donate $12.5 million to over 2,000 different causes. A lot of this is done through a program that we helped develop called NetRaffle.org.
We can conduct online raffles for celebrities. We actually have a patent on the technology and the methodology. One way the lockout is affecting us is that we can’t do these raffles and support charities because there are no games. All those things that we helped build last year are at a stand still right now.
We’ve worked with people like Mark Wahlberg, Justin Timberlake, Drew Brees. In eight days we raised $607,000 for tickets to the Super Bowl. We raffled off Ron Artest’s championship ring. Charities like abused children, after-school programs, Diabetes, you name it. Whatever the celebrity wants, we’re here to support them with their philanthropic vision. The celebrity provides the prize and the PR, we do the rest.