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PODCAST – Tyler Stewart, Warner Bros. Discovery, Sports

Tyler Stewart, VP, Brand + Experience for Warner Bros. Discovery, Sports is a creative executive with a long history in the sports, entertainment & media industries. At WBD Sports, he oversees brand and experience for the WBD Sports portfolio of brands including the likes of Bleacher Report and House of Highlights. Some areas of focus include: brand marketing, experiential, merchandising & e-commerce, and Web3 innovation among others.

PODCAST Transcript – Tyler Stewart, VP, Brand + Experience for Warner Bros. Discovery, Sports

James Giglio (00:00):

Welcome back to the MVP Interactive podcast. Today we have a very special guest in Tyler Stewart, who is the Vice President of Brand and Experience for Warner Bros Discovery, Sports. He’s a very decorative background in both creative and entrepreneurial Journeys, working both in the sports and entertainment in industry. Hello with the specialization in Web3, NFT and blockchain. Very excited to talk to you today, Tyler. Thanks for joining us,

Tyler Stewart (00:50):

James. Thanks so much for having me.

James Giglio (00:52):

Awesome. So we’re just going to get right at it here. Taking a look at your background both in the sports world, media world and now with Warner Bros Discovery, Sports, of course, you know, had quite the sort of sampling of industries obviously following the trends of sports and entertainment. But maybe talk to us about your career journey and what led you to Warner Bros Discovery, Sports and any sort of special interest that lets you into the sports and entertainment fields.

Tyler Stewart (01:18):

Yeah, absolutely. It’s definitely been a unique journey, I would say, but one that I’m proud to have gone on taking it all the way back. I think I always thought I wanted to be in the sports world transparently. I played sports my whole life. I actually was a walk-on at the University of Florida as a quarterback on the football team in 2007. Very cool. Yeah, so that was kind of my journey of like, okay, I’m in sports, but I had that realization while I was in at college that I probably wouldn’t be the next Tom Brady. So I wanted to be the next best thing. And for me at the time, that was being in the talent representation world. So I was steadfast on wanting to become an agent. So I studied sport management in school, which led me on that track. Fortunately, was able to connect with a couple people, make a couple calls straight after school.

(02:04):

Actually started my first job as a client servicing manager for a decently reputable agency. We were the top three in the business, I would say at the time it was called Lager Unlimited. So it got me start into the sports and entertainment space. We represented over 200 athletes across all the big four sports leagues as well as tennis, golf, et cetera. So I started there, was able to really get my feet wet in the sports world specifically and understand how the talent process worked. Negotiations I specifically handled like I said, client servicing and talent marketing essentially, and trying to source and broker off the field endorsements for our players. Did that for about four and a half years, really liked it, but realized wasn’t my long-term goal. I’d moved to New York City was exposed to a bunch of other stuff got really excited about some of the other things I was involved in from a cultural perspective, from an experiential perspective just all that the world quite honestly had to offer and was able to make my way into the media, media space.

(03:08):

So quite a pivot at the time but found my way to GQ Magazine which I thoroughly enjoyed but really there, got my feet wet in the integrated marketing world, building ad programs for partners. I handled the retail and luxury space, so luxury watches big box retailers, high fashion retailers, et cetera, would build their integrated programs so they could tap into the GQ audience. Did that for a few years and then my next role was actually able to, in my opinion merged my first job and my second job really well together which was at the Players Tribune small little startup by Derek Jeter. Really the voice of the game bringing the athletes voices directly to the fans and really cutting out the middlemen of media was kind of the position that we had. So I was brought over there to head up all things marketing, both from a brand and a sales perspective.

(04:00):

Really enjoyed that as well. Went from the big companies that I was at before to a much smaller startup vibe. So I learned a lot about the VC world and funding rounds and all of that good stuff while also learning a lot about how to grow a brand and grow a business. Did that for a few years and loved every second of it. But again, opportunity called and I was able to take all of my experience and join the Bleacher Report organization which at the time was still Time Warner pre-sale to AT&T, which made us Time, or excuse me, which made us Warner Media and then pre-sale to merger with Discovery, which is made us Warner Bros Discovery. So long cycle there, which I can dive more into if we get there, but started at Bleacher Report to go run the brand efforts and the portfolio that they had.

(04:46):

And then through my time at Bleacher Report again through the transitions of the company it’s now Warner Bros. Discovery specifically within the sports vertical and oversee brand and experience there, which essentially is our marketing function. The only thing to note, I guess, I suppose it doesn’t touch the sales marketing function, which I had previously been involved in some of my past lives but now really focus on all things brand marketing which in includes content, talent, product efforts really making sure the brand gets out there through those verticals, under the brand umbrella that we have. Experiential, which is all things experience as a whole, mainly in real life experiences, but also heavily now, which you alluded to a little bit, which we can dive into our digital experiences and our innovative efforts in. That’s that realm as well as our merchandising business as the third vertical I oversee. So we have a pretty robust apparel business. We sell licensed merchandise with the NBA. We’ve dabbled with players associations in the past as well custom unique experiences for our brand partners, team partners, et cetera. So all of those buckets collectively make up the brand and experience of the Warner Bros discovery sports vertical.

James Giglio (05:56):

Wonderful. Well, that’s a fascinating background. A fun fact about being a walk on at Florida, we have the pleasure of working and in production with a lot of professional athletes, and I’ve always, despite the reputation maybe of when we were in our generation that this era of the dumb jock, right? And I cannot say how much of a fallacy that is working with professional athletes and athletes at a very high level and how much of a competitive advantage that is to the workforce. Thinking back to that time period in your life, knowing that you probably didn’t even know what experiential marketing or integrated marketing was as an athlete in college, but talk to us a little bit about that experience as a student athlete and how that sort of woven into maybe the Players’ Tribune Tribune in the startup environment. Because I always joke that I say that business is a contact sport in many ways, especially in the startup world in terms of what the sheer perseverance that you have to do on a day-to-day basis. I mean, there’s no safety net, and so everything that you do has material impact on the outcome of said project. And so maybe give us a little bit of insight into how that’s maybe helped you throughout your professional career.

Tyler Stewart (07:10):

Yeah, it’s a great point. I think it’s a wild world. Collegiate sports in general, as we’re seeing now, showcased by NIL and everything that’s spawning from it, I think even my time there predates a lot of the innovations and enhancements that have taken place to date. And so my answer if I were a student athlete now would probably be vastly different than it was for me then. But I think it opened my eyes to a lot of stuff. It showed me the business of sports. It showed me how the passion of fandom it showed me how much people care about certain things and what it takes to get to the level. I was at a pretty substantial D1 program and although my plane time was pretty much non-existent as a walk on quarterback sitting behind the likes of Tim Tebow, Cam Newton I still got to at least see and be exposed to just the craziness that is a massive D1 football program.

(08:07):

And then again, just game days on Saturdays and seeing all that had encompassed from a fandom perspective, from a sponsor perspective just being in the swamp and seeing everything that happened on the jumbotron and all the things that were taking place inside the stadium, even at a collegiate level just really opened my aperture for like, whoa, this is a big deal. And it also, of course, working inherently with some of the best players in the country at the time and seeing how they operated and seeing the training that went into it and seeing the dedication that they had to their craft and what they had to do to get to where they were and also to where they would eventually get from a league perspective and all that. Seeing of course how the coaches handled things from a leadership perspective. All of those things absolutely factored into one, my love of the sport sport in general and wanting to work in them, but also I think certainly crafted who I was as a person some of the attributes that I have as an employee, as a leader and really crafted my way of being for future progress and future profession.

James Giglio (09:11):

Yeah, absolutely. So let’s talk about some of your marketing ranges in terms of your clientele, your customer base spanning both sports and entertainment. And given that we’re both sort of experienced deliverers, that’s the business of what we’re in either, whether it’s from the technology standpoint or a full campaign standpoint, we’re really selling experience and that’s what brands are targeting. And so the ever-evolving challenge for all brands is really to stay connected with their consumers and their customers in a thoughtful, meaningful way, in an interesting way. And so over the past 10 years, even from our perspective, we’ve seen interests and whether it’s technology hype cycles or what brands are leveraging new technologies to target these audiences or consumers, we also see a mind shift in the consumer itself in terms of valuing experience over maybe product. So especially if you talk about the millennial or the Gen Z generation. So talk to us about your experience maybe spanning each of old guys like me, like a Gen Xer <laugh> to the Gen Z folks and how your strategies and campaigns are shifting.

Tyler Stewart (10:28):

Yeah, I think it definitely differs depending upon the product that we were putting out at the time. You go back to the talent agency days, our product and our quote experience were the athletes and we would cater that to make sure that the teams were getting the product and the experience that we could sell them which inherently the teams were then selling to obviously their fans and the larger fandom that they had based off the players that we were working with. So I think in experience from that perspective versus an experience now from a digital publisher at the core are vastly different things. So there’s been a lot of unquote experience in those different verticals but I think as we look to it, there’s been a lot of evolution. There’s been a lot of change in each of those roles that I had mentioned previously.

(11:22):

Again, going back to the talent world, even then, everything was very transactional at the onset. And then as I was getting towards the end of my tenure there we were much more focused on all-encompassing experiences that were catered and centered by and for the player but still had a broader appeal and a borrowed approach. And I say that meaning no longer was it just like a car dealership interaction, very transactional approach from a deal perspective, we were saying, okay, how can we then make this a much bigger effort for this player and have a brand built around it versus just, Hey, here’s some cash, go sweep this for us. Right? So that experience went from just, hey, I’m going to do this as a player to I’m now able to build this as a player. And I think that was very the early onset of what we’re seeing now with every athlete becoming a business in them in and of themselves, Steph Curry and his VC fund, this the same.

(12:15):

So that was the very early stages of athletes and talent seeing that they could be more than that. I think as you fast forward going through the resume a little bit experiential became quite a thing that was front and center for me in the GQ days because GQ is a very tangible thing not only from a product standpoint, it was a physical magazine and we were pivoting to digital property at the time but also being GQ had this, it was an adjective that meant something to a lot of men in the fashion world. It’s like, oh, you look very gq, so how can you bring that experience to the physical realm, two people to touch and feel it? And that was something that we were excited to be able to do quite a bit with a lot of our brand partners and ad partners that came in wanting to touch not only our audience, but also those experiences that we could build for them.

(13:05):

So it was very unique and interesting to be able to go from that very athlete transactional approach, see how it could evolve a little bit and then bring that same type of thinking to the realm of fashion and which was a much more luxurious, much more highbrow approach. I would say fast forwarding to now as well, it it’s taken on such a different meaning the term experience and what experiential is for us. I think we have a pretty robust practice and when we say experiential at Bleacher Report and the portfolio of brands from hassle highlights to kicks also our league partnerships with the NHL and NBA and what we can bring to the table in that regard many of it, or much of it, excuse me, is absolutely from a physical standpoint but at the same time and where we’re at now, there’s so much from a digital lens that we can look through to craft it in a way that we know is going to resonate most with our audience and engage with our consumers in the best way possible. So I would say that to put a bow on it, that’s where we’re at from just an evolution standpoint is experience is not physical, it’s not digital. It really is capturing the audience at where they are. So if that means a 13 year old kid on their phone playing Roblox on their couch, or a 50 year old guy who’s going to the NBA All-Star game and he wants to come touch and feel the brand of that app that he follows we can really check all those boxes and accomplish it across the board.

James Giglio (14:34):

And I think we can both agree that gone are the days of just concourse tchotchkes and handouts and hard sell solicitation.

Tyler Stewart (14:41):

Hopefully.

James Giglio (14:43):

Yeah, absolutely.

Tyler Stewart (14:44):

If I have anything to say about it for sure.

James Giglio (14:46):

Yeah, likewise, I’m with you, man. I am with you. So this is a great time of year as a sports fan. We’re literally a day away a off of the college championship. We have the NFL playoffs starting we just wrapped up the NHL Winter Classic and the NBA All-Star game is coming up and this is really kind of a peak for US sports fans. And so talk to us a little bit maybe about some of the activations that you’ve executed in those events or anything down the pipeline that you have that you’re able to share at this

Tyler Stewart (15:17):

Point. Totally. Q1 and Q4 are pretty much our busiest times of year, I would say, right. Summer has a little bit of a wall from a sports calendar perspective. So yeah, definitely he’s up and at the end of the year at the beginning of the year, it’s for no pun intended, it’s kind of our Super Bowl pretty proud of some of the stuff we’ve been able to accomplish at the end of last year, as well as what we’re excited about for this. Just to give you some examples I mentioned our apparel business, our merchandising practice that we have we’re an official licensee of NBA. We had a collection that we call NBA artist series which is where we team up with reputable artists, whether they’re painters, sculptors embroidery artists, whatever you might call them across the spectrum, and actually create NBA license merch with them.

(16:05):

But we have original art that they would create based off the BA theme then additions based off of that art, and then we create merchandise based off of the additions in the art as well. So for our second time around, we launched this in 2021. 2022 was our second time, we wanted to launch it at Art Basel in Miami which is a huge week big time on the cultural calendar. Quite frankly Bleacher Report had never been at Basel and some could say had no business being at Basel but we took it as an opportunity to really expand our just reach and our exposure to that market and bring the worlds of art and basketball, art and sport together and really celebrate it in a cool and unique different way. So we launched it at Basel this year. As I mentioned out in Miami, it was December 1st through the fourth, and we took over space in Wynwood, had a proper art gallery where the artists that we teamed up with Matt McCormick LA based guy, really awesome artist created put all of his art in the gallery.

(17:03):

Then he wanted to essentially to through the nostalgia of what the epitome of a sports bar would be through fandom his basketball fandom growing up, et cetera. We literally recreated, or I guess newly created because it didn’t exist before what we called the Fade Away Cocktail Lounge, home of the Buzzer beater. So we literally went from this really pristine gallery space into a really rugged, intentionally shitty excuse my French sports bar and dive bar where it had pool table and signed posters and old school heat memorabilia and all this stuff. And we would give fans access if they made the little Nerf buzzer beater, we would give them free drinks, free merchandise, whatever it might be. So really from an experience perspective, as we keep talking about that keyword going from that juxtaposition of high brow, really classy, really fancy art into the epitome of sports fandom, we watched World Cups game in there world Cup matches in there. We watched a Miami Heat game in there because they were playing away in Boston that night. Going from that one to the other, that juxtaposition of was a really unique fan experience and allowed us to put the brand out there, both Bleacher Report Report and the NBA in a different manner. So that was one example that was just really relevant and really recent that I was excited about. Another is you just mentioned NHL Winter Classic. We were on the ground in Boston for the Bruins and Penguins game.

(18:30):

We took over the lot right next to Fenway Park, which was incredible from a proximity perspective really bringing the fandom of the NHL and what NHL fans care about, of course, around the magic, some would say of the Winter classic being the outdoor hockey game in a place so amazing as Fenway but really much more of a traditional fan experience. But we brought some really unique things to it. I would say it was all culminated with the Sam Hunt concert, which people really enjoyed but it was really the combination of both fans just se being there and celebrating the sport, not nearly about a Boston thing or Pittsburgh thing. So it was a really unique experience for them to be all there and celebrate in that manner. But one of the highlights from that is the team did a really amazing job creating really a brand new hot sauce.

(19:21):

We had this whole campaign called Hockey as Hot as Puck. So we literally created, created a hot sauce called Hot as Puck. And fortunately, me and a couple colleagues got to actually taste test that before it was bottled up and it was nine out of 10 on the spicy scale. But it was really fun to see people on the ground with all the branding of this new invention that we made and going into the Sin Bin Challenge where they literally had to try to eat chicken tenders, chicken wings, doused in this sauce in a short enough period of time. And if they did, they rewarded with a prize, whether it be tickets or free bottle, the hot sauce, whatever would be. So that amongst a couple other things, like we had brand activations there, of course with some of our partners like truly Discover Yeager, who are all NHL partners of course but it was just a really cool physical thing to be at and people, we had over 8,000 people come through the experience before they walked and it was only a four hour event right before the Winter Classic started at 2:00 PM So it was great across the board.

(20:17):

And then I guess just lastly, of course, our NBA partnership as a rights holder is really big for us. We always activate in a big way at All-Star Weekend dating back the past four years, five years we’ve done some really cool things in the cities where the All-Star game is held. So we fully intend to this year for in Salt Lake City a couple things to look forward to <laugh> is we’re going to have an activation that merges digital and physical experiences, think of a basketball version of Top Golf. So it’s hard to, hopefully not too hard to picture because we’re going to bring it to life but without getting too much into it, there will be a really cool fan activation for them to bring basketball and top golf together. House of Highlights will be present in a big way with their creator league and House of Highlights, showdown vibes, which we’ve done really well, building that franchise talking about some apparel partnerships and things like that. We’ll actually be at the N B A space as well which they have is called B a Crossover. So we’ll be there with some exclusive merch specific to the Utah fans. So really excited to do some of that. And then of course, partner conversations are still happening. We always kind cook up some really cool things for some of our sponsor activations, but we’re a little too early to release those right now. But lots cooking for Utah for sure.

James Giglio (21:36):

Well, that’s great. Well, we hope to see you there. We’ll have an activation. It’s we’re working with an b a partner now, but it’s interesting, it’s be what was formally called Jam Session, but crossover adjacent that we’ll be activating at a local mall. It makes sense for the brand, but very exciting. So we’ll keep that up under wraps for now. But yeah, I’ll be nice to run into you in Salt Lake.

Tyler Stewart (21:58):

Yeah, absolutely. Can’t wait to see you guys there.

James Giglio (22:00):

Yeah, so you had mentioned something interesting about, I love the idea of blending sports and art and art basil, and one of the experiences that I felt was a really positive experience or sort of silver lining to the Covid era of live events and sports was a project that we worked on with the Tennessee Titans and where at that time in the NFL, we didn’t know if fans were going to be in the venues or allow at games. And from a marketing perspective and a team perspective, it’s still very much important to stay tied with your community and really have your brand be the excitement of the NFL season, be front and center to your local community. So what the Titans did was they leased a vacant building downtown Nashville and commissioned a local artist to hand paint just a wonderful mural.

(22:56):

And if you’ve been to Nashville, of course it’s a very mural driven city. It’s a part of their tourism. And so they did a fantastic job of tying in the sort of natural fabric of what it means to be a Nashville or a Tennesseean and then also do a brand promotion and get the excitement of the artwork with the mural on that. It featured a pro football player, a Titans player, and then it sort of called out all different historical sort of resilient things that have happened over the course of that year in Tennessee. And so I thought it was really well done. And then of course, our element of experiential was making that mural come to life through augmented reality. And so that campaign did tremendously well, but it was such a perfect seamless blend of sports and art that just made a lead. Its a lot of sense. And quite frankly, I mean outside of maybe a Leonard Nemoy painting, there’s not much of that, or however, the NBA has always done a great job of blending art and culture with their particular brand. But yeah, I thought that was interesting to having a presence in Art asso. I love that.

Tyler Stewart (24:03):

Yeah, absolutely. And I mean, kudos to you and the project with the Titans. I think as we had talked about before, finding ways to continue to engage, especially in hard times, which everybody, not just the sports industry was struggling with is vitally important. And I think of course, if you can add that physical nature and bring in some digital elements we’ve dabbled in this space a lot and continue to figure out when and where we’re going to play with more digitally leaning digitally innovative efforts. Of course, from a web three perspective, which you alluded to a little bit earlier it’s been such a chaotic rollercoaster ride of a thing at this point. And we started pretty early in the space from an NFT standpoint, actually the bubble season of the NBA, we dropped our first NFT for this experience that we did called Open Run, which was a two, two rappers basketball game.

(24:57):

It was Quavo and Jack Harlow versus two chains and Lil Baby. So we had a custom designed basketball, digital basketball with each of those rappers. And then if you bought the NFT, whether it was a Gold Edition Silver Edition, you had the chance to get a physical version of that limited ball actually made and shipped to you. So it went really well. It was, again, very early in the process. I wouldn’t sit there and say we would drop the same NFT in the same way again right now, of course, everybody can sit here and talk about crypto winter and what NFTs are and how whatever. But I think for us, the way we approach those digital elements in that new space is really testing and learning and making sure that we’re doing it strategically and we’re not going to do anything just to do it.

(25:42):

We’re going to do it because we think it either makes sense or it proves value to our fan. And I think, again, whatever anyone thinks of where we’re at in the current ecosystem of Web three, of crypto of NFTs, et cetera of the blockchain I think there’s a absolutely inherent value in what that brings specifically from a sports perspective. I think it can allude a lot to the validation of things for fans, the validation of fandom as an actual asset the access and the utility, that ownership of these things on the blockchain can get mobile gaming sports gaming when you’re eventually playing, not EA and Madden necessarily, but as you’re playing these games future forward, the things that you do to level up in those experiences in the digital realm will allow you more access, very ready player one if you will. So those types of things, as we think about them and as you bring them to augmented reality, mixed reality, virtual reality, whatever you want to call it all of those things will certainly have a part future forward. And it’s my job and it’s, as we look forward and as we continue to put our best foot forward, I should say we got to make sure that we’re doing it in a strategic manner that is tapping into those things when people are actually asking for it, or at least helping lead the charge to make sure that they know they should be asking for it. So again, that there was, I guess an odd way to get there from you alluding to the sport and art realm.

James Giglio (27:07):

Where I was going next.

Tyler Stewart (27:08):

Yeah, sorry about that. But your activation component made me think of it and it’s like, yeah, it’s whether it’s sport and culture or digital sport or the future in sport, whatever you want to call it as a brand, and us as an industry need to continue to play in that space because we have to go where the audience is and the audience is heading there.

James Giglio (27:28):

Yeah, for sure. Well, I think that you brought up a good point too when you were talking about NFTs and everyone wants to be dunking in each other’s face about what side of the fence you stood last year about NFTs and cryptos and all of that. And I understand that from all perspectives. And one of the things that we’ve experienced, again, I’m just using a decade, 10 years as a sample set, but shy of calling them hype cycles or buzzwords, technology and marketing have to have this very dynamic relationship with each other where, you know, need to keep pace with the different trends of what’s happening from a consumer perspective, from a technology perspective. And marketers certainly want to have one step ahead, but technology moves very fast. And so it’s a push pull relationship. And so we’ve seen these cycles of different technologies kind of come and go and some more successful than others.

(28:21):

But I think if you take the approach similar to essentially this is my personal philosophy, is that, you know, can really stack the IP and the experiences over a myriad of time to really evolve the technology. And so virtual reality was taken over by augmented reality. For example, an augmented reality was taken over by the metaverse, right? And my forecast for this year, it’s going to be everything ai. AI is going to take the industry by storm, but there’s always IP and there’s always something that you can pull from the past. And again, speaking of pandemic, I mean, let’s talk about the QR code, a 20 year technology, 20 year old technology sort of coming, the most prominent way of life interaction that we’ve had over the past three years. And so I think if people can tie, take it from that perspective where pulling the strategic IP or at least elements of the technology that okay, maybe it’s not an N F T sole campaign, but it’s more of a holistic activation or holistic campaign around the physical presence, the virtual presence, the physical takeaway, the digital takeaway and so on. I think that’s where the future’s really bright and what excites us in that you’re not going to be left in the dust per se, if you just focus on one technology. You just kind of stack it forward.

Tyler Stewart (29:44):

Yeah, agreed. And that’s what I was mentioning with very much a test and learn approach from our perspective, because we had the opportunity to create a sports, we had the opportunity to do X, Y, and Z. And not to say we won’t do that or aren’t doing that but we’re going to do it in a manner that makes sense for us and that makes sense for our fans. And the one thing that I’ve realized dating back, not at my current role, but back history, it’s so funny because I remember very vividly had a very creative, very inspirational, creative marketer that I worked for at that talent agency as well which kind of merged my role from the agent that I was working for and then the marketer that I was working for. And that really set me up for my next steps. But at the time, this was literally 2010, 2011, he was scanning QR codes on a piece of paper as a trigger and it would pop up a little augmented reality like critter that would drive around, we’d go to meeting to meeting and be like, look at this new technology.

(30:37):

And that literally is finally now just coming to the fold through Snapchat lenses, et cetera. And people just sometimes aren’t ready for the tech. And I think that’s what we’re seeing a lot now is the adoption of things is not to the level it needs to be in order for the tech to do what it actually can. So the QR code as an example, so old, but we just had to find the proper use for it for people to not touch a menu and for people to scan something off of a jumbotron instead of having to tell them to type in the url. So those are things that have existed, but it’s not going to happen until people are ready for it. Similar with AI similar with Metaverse, similar with NFTs, the underlying technology is there and then once the people are ready for it to your point, not getting left in the dust it’ll very much do the things that I think everybody that is now hoping it’ll do will actually do.

James Giglio (31:25):

Yeah, absolutely. And it’s a big thing for marketers, and I see this from on our side of the desk per se, but the power and the importance of brands being able to bring this technology to consumers that they wouldn’t ordinarily have access to is really paramount to where technology goes. And so I think we have to give a lot of credit to the brands that underwrite and take the challenges take the risk of taking on this technology and bringing it to a consumer base that necessarily wouldn’t be able to experience it. And I think VR was a big example of that back in 2013, 2014 where headsets and PCs were four or five, $6,000. There’s not many, many gifts under the Christmas tree that are going to be able to unwrap that for a generation. And so I think as brands the value and the importance of leveraging technology, bringing it to consumers is really understated.

(32:24):

And the other point that you had mentioned is technology being far in advance of what people are comfortable with is so spot on. And that’s something that we experienced as a company where our company thesis from day one was really to create these inve fan experiences through technology, immersive technology. But in 2012 and 2013, what that really meant was a new jumbotron for an arena. That’s where ownership, and that’s where the facilities were at. It wasn’t quite to the level that it is now. And which is nice to see it pulling forward where you go to any live event, marketing event, sporting event, you’re getting activation chock full of different experiences, both analog that’ll never go away. And there’s value in that. You do it right, you do it well. I mean your hot sauce example is a perfect <laugh> example of getting a tactical experience that makes a lot of sense and then bringing it forward with technology is it’s nice to see that the industry is that this is the way this is the future.

Tyler Stewart (33:22):

Yeah, it’s funny you say that. My mom got my stepdad for Christmas this year, a Meta Oculus headset, and I had one fortunes actually sitting behind me on the counter but I had to help him set it up and try to show him how to play the Beat Saver game. And just seeing that, and to you when you said there’s not four to 6,000 headsets sitting under the tree, that’s very true. And because now this is affordable, my mom got it for him. And just seeing an older gentleman try to use something inherently new to him was pretty interesting. But piggybacking off of that, the world’s not getting any less techy. The there’s not going to be less innovation, there’s not going to be less technological development. So that’s something that people need to and should realize and hopefully can wrap their brains around where all these brands that are pumping in the money to develop these technologies, where it’s ultimately going to go at what pace we get there is still to be determined because then you have little cycles we’re in right now.

(34:21):

I just read an article this morning about how younger people are trying to decouple from technology, they’re putting down their iPhones and or they’re using it for Be Real instead of Instagram, or they’re putting down their phone for the iPhone lens and they’re using a Polaroid camera again and bringing that technology back. And then there’s this emphasis on physical experiences and booking a flight and going somewhere versus sitting on your phone all day. So I think there’s that mini cycle of that backtrack, which is almost like it’s a two step forward, one step back approach for a lot of people. But again, I don’t think it’ll slow it down enough to where all the kids playing Roblox and developing their own games and literally getting their allowance paid in Robuck and all of those things is going to change any of that. So

James Giglio (35:06):

Yeah, absolutely. Nostalgia will always be a pervasive force in our life, and that’s a good thing. It is important to kind of go back in time and just to keep pace with everything else. So Tyler, listen at our time. This was fascinating. I really appreciate your time. And for our listeners if you’re comfortable, what you’re willing to share, please let us know where our listeners can find you and keep pace of all the great things that you’re working on.

Tyler Stewart (35:33):

Yeah, totally. I’m going to open book. Easiest is probably LinkedIn. LinkedIn, honestly just Tyler Stewart there’s probably a couple of us though, so make sure it’s the right one. The Tyler Stewart. But then I’m also on Instagram. It’s just my full name actually, because nothing else was available. Tyler at Tyler Dane Stewart, I’m on Twitter as well, but not super active. Just more educational on Twitter these days. But happy to reach out or take any reach outs from anybody that might want to.

James Giglio (36:01):

All right, well wonderful. Thank you again. And this is the MVP Interactive podcast. Thanks for listening.

Tyler Stewart (36:09):

James, thanks so much.

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