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Florida Gators Assistant Director Of Marketing Yanna Pantelis Preps The Swamp To Be As Innovative As Ever

Yanna Pantelis | Assistant Director of Marketing | University of Florida Athletic Association

I think the biggest takeaway as sport marketers will be that we’re forced to think outside of “how things have always been done” and we will have to be more innovative than ever before.

Yanna Pantelis

Assistant Director of Marketing

University of Florida Athletic Association

× The interview with Yanna Pantelis was conducted via a typed conversation. Editing changes were made to make it easier to read while maintaining the voice of the interview.

Tell us about your role as Assistant Director of Marketing for the University of Florida Athletic Association. What does a typical day look like for you?

A typical day varies greatly throughout the week, month, and year. I think that’s primarily what keeps the job exciting and challenging. On any given day, we pivot amongst several different roles – from the really creative to the really strategic or logistical tasks. It keeps it interesting, that’s for sure!

Specifically, I work on the marketing efforts for Football Student Ticketing, Volleyball, Gymnastics, Lacrosse, Men’s & Women’s Tennis, and ticketing/Florida Ballpark strategy for Baseball. In any given day, I work on several of those sports throughout the course of the day – something that has been a challenge to learn to navigate but has forced me to grow in some really incredible ways.

Let’s go back to the beginning of your sports industry career – why collegiate athletics and why marketing? Was there a moment you knew you had found your fit within collegiate athletics?

So I am a Florida grad, a Gator through and through having earned my undergrad & masters degrees from here. I worked about 6 seasons in the NFL, helping in the Community Relations department for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I started there as a student volunteer and that’s where I really got the first glimpse of what a career in sport could be. I thoroughly enjoyed my time there and credit the people I worked with at the Bucs with really giving me my first chance in sport.

At Florida, I volunteered in Football for a little bit, before moving into marketing. Since then, I’ve been fortunate enough to grow through several roles in the marketing department and love what I’m able to do in collegiate athletics. I think there’s a chance I end up back in the pros one day, but for now I’m really happy in the collegiate athletics environment.

In your role, you facilitate the marketing and promotions for a variety of sports such as football, gymnastics and lacrosse. How does each sport differ in the marketing tactics used?

Each sport differs greatly. Here at Florida, we talk a great deal about our branding across all of our sports. While we’re all part of the same Florida family, each sport has it’s own individual personality, voice, and style. Working multiple sports is really fun in that way because I get to work on a wide array of segments within the Florida brand.

The demographics for each of those sports varies greatly as well. What works really well at Gymnastics may not necessarily work the same way at Lacrosse or Football, and vice versa. This challenges us to think in more creative, innovative, and unique ways as we work on each individual sport. That’s something I’m really grateful for here at Florida!

The world of marketing is constantly encountering new trends and innovations. With that being said, how does the University of Florida’s marketing department stay up-to-date and fresh in their promotions/marketing?

Growth and innovation is a constant process.

At Florida, we want to be the trailblazers, the innovators, and do things the Florida way with our own unique style. I feel very lucky to get to work with an incredibly talented and creative group here.

From video to social to graphics and beyond, everyone is really focused on “what can we do together to make the Gators better” and I think that is really key to innovation and staying fresh.

With the COVID-19 pandemic completely turning the sports world upside down, collegiate sports will be looking a lot different this year. How are you preparing for the future we will have and how do you plan on reaching stakeholders through your marketing efforts in new ways?

The pandemic has certainly had a massive impact on so many industries, including sports. I think the biggest takeaway as sport marketers will be that we’re forced to think outside of “how things have always been done” and we will have to be more innovative than ever before. It’s like those cooking shows where they give you a handful of random ingredients and they chefs have to make a meal out of it.

If we have different resources and a different environment this year, how can we be really creative and innovative in still putting together an incredible experience for our student athletes and fans?

That’s where the innovation happens and it’ll be interesting to see how we all adapt and grow during this time.

We would love to hear about your favorite moment(s) whilst working in marketing for the University of Florida Athletic Association! Tell us about a few of your favorite pieces of marketing content, promotions or moments in general throughout your career. What made them so special?

Wow – there’s so many incredible moments that come to mind! The number one moment I would have to say is from 2015, Florida Football vs. Ole Miss in The Swamp. We had been planning a surprise welcome home for a helicopter pilot serving in Afghanistan.

It was the first timeout of the first quarter and we had his family down on the field. We played a video from him on the GatorVision boards, and the family thought that it was just a special video shout out, as he wasn’t expected back home yet. Then we end the timeout by welcoming him onto the field. That moment when he came running out of the tunnel and his family saw him in person while the crowd erupted – it was one of the best moments I’ve experienced in my career and one of the loudest moments in The Swamp.

The first few sellouts in Gators Gymnastics program history are also really special moments for me. To see the way that program has grown and honestly skyrocketed in attendance has been so rewarding and the environment has been fun to build in Exactech Arena.

Hayley Michie Hayley's Final Thoughts

Sport marketing has always been an area of interest for me. However, what I find truly intriguing is how sports organizations are shifting their marketing practices to account for the implications COVID-19 has brought on. When speaking with Yanna Pantelis, she mentioned that she and her team at the Florida Gators are constantly pushing the envelope to be fresh. Considering the Gators were already proving innovation pre-COVID-19, I’m positive Yanna Pantelis and her team will continue to grow and create incredible experiences for student-athletes, students, and fans alike. 

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