Tampa Bay Business Journal - Former Lightning Exec Bill Abercrombie Joins Tampa Marketing Upstart - 1-25-21
by Ashley Gurbal Kritzer, Senior Reporter, Tampa Bay Business Journal - Original Article
Don't call Bill Abercrombie a deal junkie.
Abercrombie negotiated several big deals in his nearly nine years at the Tampa Bay Lightning - including the transition of the Tampa Bay Times Forum to Amalie Arena and D.G. Yuengling &. Son Inc.'s purchase of the naming rights at the University of South Florida's Sun Dome - but his focus, he says, is always on the people behind the transaction.
"Relationships fascinate me," Abercrombie said. "I try to tell kids coming out of school, 'The world isn't changing in that regard. The way that relationships might be brokered might be different, but relationships are always going to matter.'"
That's the approach Abercrombie is bringing with him to Mind Stone Marketing Group, founded in late 2020 by fellow Lightning alum Eric Blankenship. Abercrombie, who was the Lightning's executive vice president of partnership sales and activation when he left the team in October 2019, joins Mind Stone as a partner and chief revenue officer.
Prior to joining the Lightning in 2011, Abercrombie worked for the NBA's Atlanta Hawks, the NHL's Atlanta Thrashers and Philips Arena.
"My plan was to take a year off, and [the pandemic] and extended it out a little bit," he said, "but I have such confidence in the Tampa business community and life getting back to normal. I've had opportunities in other markets, but we love Tampa."
Mind Stone is predominantly focused on fractional chief marketing office work - short-term, for-hire marketing services at an executive level - and Abercrombie's 30-year history in brand partnerships opens the firm up to another spectrum of potential opportunities, Blankenship said.
"Bill has as big or an even greater of network of relationships than I do," Blankenship said. "And more importantly, it's a different set of relationships. When I look at this community and ask, 'Who are the good guys who are really connected?' Bill is one of those good guys."
The two plan to leverage Abercrombie's background in naming and signage rights deals. While the projects may not be on as large a scale as stadium naming rights, Abercrombie has been consulting with a company that helps property owners monetize real estate in high-traffic areas, from airports to hospital waiting rooms.
They're also planning to offer personal brand management services for professional athletes, given their combined background in sports, marketing and brand partnerships.
Abercrombie said his expertise and Blankenship's are complementary in large part because of they worked at the Lightning.
"In most situations with professional sports teams, the [sponsorship team] shuts out the marketing team,"
Abercrombie said. "They work on the partnership, and never include the brand representative, but that was not the case with the Lightning, because we believed in cross pollination.
[Blankenship] has such a brand mind, and the way to represent brands is to think like somebody on the other side of the table."