Speaker Q&A: Coca-Cola’s Jason McAlpin

Jason McAlpin (MBA '12) – Coca-Cola

Jason McAlpin (MBA ’12) – Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola brand manager Jason McAlpin (MBA ’12) will speak on the marketing and ticketing panel at the 2015 Basketball Analytics Summit.

Jason played on the University of Maryland men’s basketball team from 2006-2008 and is a graduate of the UNC Kenan-Flagler full-time MBA program. Check out BAS student director Bryce Parrish’s interview below to get to know Jason.

What are your primary responsibilities?

It’s always difficult to explain what brand management means because it varies so much. However, in an overly simplified way, I help influence and manage the brand. This can include pricing, retail programming, digital/social media, brand strategy, analytics, experiential, packaging and launching innovations. One of the most fun initiatives I led was Coke Zero’s NCAA March Madness programming in 2013 and 2014.

What do you see as the fastest growing or most important aspect of analytics in basketball today?

Probably the most important aspect of analytics in basketball today is the system of how we rank teams for inclusion in the post-season tournaments. Without tipping my hand on which ranking I think is most accurate, it’s clear that the formula that goes into ranking the various teams is the most important analytical tool, as it often times makes or breaks a team’s season.

I think the fastest growing aspect of analytics in basketball today are efficiency metrics (i.e., points per possession). If you look across all of the metrics we use in basketball, efficiency is probably one of the top three most directly tied to a team’s win percentage. While teams have always understood that high shooting percentages, low turnovers, second chance shots, etc. are important to winning, efficiency metrics help contextualize and compare to other great teams.

Who do you admire?

One of the people I admire most is my former Hall of Fame coach, Gary Williams. I admire him for two reasons: His basketball intelligence and his passion. Out of all of the people I’ve had the chance to interact with before, during and after my playing days, Coach Williams is certainly the smartest. He’s able to see things on the court that others are not, which manifests itself in incredibly effective offensive plays and defensive sets. The other reason is his passion – despite having the same job at the University of Maryland for 20+ years, he still attended practice every day with an extreme level of passion that was infectious to rest of the team and the organization.

Who is your favorite sport team(s) or athlete that you follow regularly? 

TERPS!  For obvious reasons.

What tips do you have for a college student interested in a career in the sports industry?

I think the key to being successful in the industry is to truly have a passion for sports. In my opinion, the sports industry is not as glamorous as it appears from the outside looking in. I’ve had several friends and colleagues who got into that sector were surprised at how different it is versus their expectations. However, I think having a true passion and love for sports will allow you to be successful.

By Bryce Parrish (MBA ’16), student director – Basketball Analytics Summit

Basketball Analytics Summit

Join us April 17-18 to learn about the business of basketball from leading industry professionals.