When the National Basketball Association was considering candidates for the position of chief marketing officer, it’s hard to imagine a better resume than that of Kate (Taneyhill) Jhaveri ’95.
Since leaving Mount St. James, Jhaveri has developed corporate and marketing strategy for some of the most ubiquitous global brands: from Dell and Microsoft to Facebook, Twitter and Twitch. The English and Spanish major is now a year into her CMO role with the NBA, leading marketing for the league and its galaxy of stars.
“I think this is an opportunity for us to grow fandom around the globe,” Jhaveri says, “to connect fans with all of the right content, experiences, players and teams that people expect and love from the NBA.
“I spent the better part of my career thinking about how communities come together. It could be any number of things you’re interested in, or in this case, a really dedicated international community of NBA fans,” she continues. “It’s really exciting to work with that community and talk with them about something they love so much.”
The Maryland native started her new role with the NBA in July 2019, and the enthusiasm she has acquired is clear. She can quickly cite numbers that support the idea that basketball, in general — and the NBA, specifically — is popular almost everywhere.
“We definitely are an incredibly global game,” she says. “We have more than a billion fans; 1 out of every 7 people tuned into an NBA game last season. When we think about the reach of our games, we are seeing 215 countries and territories, 50 languages. In addition, our players are also super global; 108 players — that’s about 25% of our players — were born outside the United States. By nature, the NBA is very, very global.”
Jhaveri’s two-pronged challenge is to try to increase the NBA’s popularity with young, tech-savvy people in the United States (“roughly half our U.S. fans are under 35”); and internationally, with people who have not grown up with the game.
“Ninety-nine percent of our fans will never experience an NBA game in person,” she notes. “How can we match the experience of the NBA across a variety of platforms in a great way for folks who won’t walk into (Madison Square) Garden to experience the amazingness that I feel the NBA is?
“If you’re looking at research and analytics, it’s really important for me to understand the fans, understand what motivates them, understand where they come from and what their needs are, in order to ensure that we’re helping to meet those needs. We can find them where they are with content that they’re interested in. Some people care about players, other fans like a particular team, others just love the beauty of the game. Understanding fans more deeply and what they expect from the NBA helps us market to them.”
Jhaveri lives in New York with her husband, Ash, and two children, Nora, 8, and Declan, 6, but she grew up in greater Baltimore, a fan of the Celtics and Larry Bird.
“Over the years, I have had the pleasure of living in a number of awesome NBA cities,” she says. “I’ve lived in Boston, Chicago, Seattle and then, most recently, in the Bay Area, where I fell in love with the Warriors and got to see some amazing basketball. I’ve had the privilege to watch and enjoy all of those teams.”
At Holy Cross, Jhaveri was a member of the rowing team, occupying the demanding three seat. It’s a slot where powerful rowing is required, an area often referred to as the boat’s “engine room.”
“That still remains a really good set of memories, both getting up early and heading down to the lake and also the camaraderie of eight women in a boat trying to do the very best they can,” she says. “My time on the crew was one of my favorite memories from Holy Cross.”
Written by Joseph Sullivan for the Summer 2020 issue of Holy Cross Magazine.
Editor’s note: As of press time, the NBA announced plans to resume its season at the end of July.
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