Pate Clarson ’12 works hand-in-hand with NFL corporate sponsors like Publix, Pepsi and Bud Light to help brands create lasting impressions with fans throughout the year (which may or may not involve the two new pools and cabanas located in the stadium) and at away games ranging from Cleveland to Washington, D.C. to London, England.
While Clarson travels to a few away games each season, most of his responsibilities keep him in Florida. Recently named to Jacksonville’s Top 30 Under 30, he puts his business administration and hospitality and tourism management degrees to use by evaluating sponsorships, corporate partnership performance, brainstorming new events and planning for the year ahead.
Q: What are your day-to-day responsibilities?
A: Our department is responsible for the account management of approximately 100 corporate sponsors. We fulfill every aspect of a partnership agreement. Responsibilities vary throughout the year.
January to March: We recap the season by looking at our performance from a business perspective – finances, executions, ebbs and flows of sponsor interaction.
March to May: Numerous corporate hospitality events – Bud Light NFL Draft Day Party, Jaguars Den at THE PLAYERS, and sponsor-related events in the stadium.
June to August: The busiest time of year! We implement all corporate partnership assets ranging from television to radio, digital (Jaguars.com), tickets, travel, stadium signage, and more. We also work with the City of Jacksonville to help host events, including the USA vs. Nigeria soccer game and Florida Country Superfest.
The most exciting aspect of this offseason has been our construction of the largest video boards in the world. They measure 362’ x 60’ and will completely reshape the sports & entertainment experience. In addition, the Jaguars are adding two pools and 20 cabanas in the North End Zone, helping create a true Florida feel in the stadium.
September to December: The season begins! Everyone sees the glamor of games on Sundays. However, I’ve really come to appreciate the planning and creative thinking process that helps bring the NFL experience to life. When your on-field product faces tough times, you must learn to justify a sponsor’s financial investment with the team. Though the experience can be challenging, it is a great learning experience.
Q: Do you attend all the games?
A: Yes – All home games, and depending on the season, some away games as well. The furthest away game I’ve traveled to was in London.
Q: Do you get to know the players?
A:Yes – Many of them are around my age, so we work together during the day and also hang out outside of work. We have a great group of guys in Jacksonville.
Q: Did you know you wanted a career in the sports and entertainment industry before you found out about this position?
A: My father has worked with the PGA Tour for more than 30 years. Growing up in the sports and entertainment industry, you could say I’m a product of my environment. When I enrolled at the College of Charleston I already had a career path in mind.
After graduation, I interviewed for multiple jobs across the country. As I was ready to accept a job in Miami, to my surprise, a position opened up with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Growing up 30 minutes away in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., how could I pass up the opportunity?! What an experience it has been.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: As a six-foot-four male with a high metabolism, all-you-can-eat lunch at the training table is a true blessing. It’s unbelievable – seafood, sandwiches, ice cream every day. Additionally, working in the NFL exposes you to so many different people, ways of thinking and networking opportunities that may not exist in other industries.
I also enjoy executing in-game promotions. Last season we put two individuals in giant hamster balls for the Publix Roll to the Goal promotion. They would race around a Pepsi bottle and back to the end zone.
Another example is our partnership with the PGA Tour and Papa John’s. Each week, a PGA Tour player would compete against mascot Jaxson de Ville in a 125-yard shot over the crowd onto the 50-yard line! It’s pretty funny and different from a lot of the other day-to-day stuff I work on.
Q: What was the interview process like for your position?
A: Jaguars President Mark Lamping, one of the most respected executives in sports and entertainment, graciously agreed to interview me. After meeting with him, it became evident to me that this was an organization trending in the right direction.
Q: How do you think the College helped you prepare for your industry?
A: The College is unique in that is has a small-school feel in a city environment, which transfers well into a corporate environment because you have the intimate experience of working on a team within a much larger realm like a corporation or league.
I also found the School of Business speaker series to be informative and inspiring. Listening to executives from Mercedes-Benz to Boeing opened my eyes to the opportunities that are available in the business world.
RELATED: Learn more about the College’s business administration and hospitality and tourism management programs
Q: What advice would you give to current students interested in business and in the sports and entertainment industry?
A: Harland “Hurricane” Hodges was my business capstone teacher. He gave advice to his classes that I would reiterate. Following graduation, Harland advocated working to secure a position with the largest company you can. His reasoning was that you’d be given more resources and exposed to multiple departments, business models and ways of thinking. That experience can serve as a platform for future growth and success by the vast exposure you receive early in your career.