Grab your FREE copy of the 60 Low & No Cost PR & Marketing Strategies eBook*



*By submitting your email, you will receive the eBook & also sign-up for Carol’s newsletter
Business Unplugged™
This blog features Carol Roth's tough love on business and entrepreneurship, as well as insights from Carol's community of contributors.

Strategy: The Oklahoma City Thunder Marketing Debacle

Written By: Carol Roth | 6 Comments

We live in a time of business tactics.  Companies and individuals get so caught up in a project, idea or tool, that they forget about strategy.

Strategy tests purpose and goals and also thinks through opportunities and pitfalls.  When you put into place tactics without strategy, you open yourself up to a debacle.

Take the Oklahoma City Thunder NBA basketball team, for example.  For their home playoff game this past Saturday (which they won at the last second in a very exciting fashion), they gave every attendee a team shirt.  They beautifully displayed the shirts on each attendee’s chair:


Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman

This seemed like a fabulous marketing gesture to create a stadium filled with OKC supporters.  However, the shirts, given out at the Thunder’s home stadium, weren’t the color of the Thunder’s home uniforms (which were primarily white).  However, they were pretty much the exact color of the Dallas Mavericks’ away uniforms, which they were wearing to play that day.  The result, it looked like the entire crowd was rooting for the opposing team (the Mavericks instead of the Thunder).

Here’s a picture of the Maverick’s Dirk Nowitzki,with the OKC crowd behind him.  Notice how they match!


Photo from

While it was a great idea to give everyone a shirt, the ball was dropped (pun intended) when they picked a color that matched the opposing team’s uniform.  Even if these were printed weeks in advance, the team could have gone through the likely teams that could have been Thunder opponents to make sure that on television and in person it didn’t look like the entire stadium was supporting the rivals.

Bottom line, strategy always should precede tactics and be used along the route as a litmus test for all decisions.  Otherwise you create a stadium full of supporters for your rival team during a playoff game.

Article written by
Carol Roth is a national media personality, ‘recovering’ investment banker, investor, speaker and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is a judge on the Mark Burnett (Shark Tank, The Voice, Survivor, The Apprentice) produced technology competition series, America's Greatest Makers, airing on TBS and Host of Microsoft's Office Small Business Academy show. Previously, Carol was the host and co-producer of The Noon Show, a current events talk show on WGN Radio, one of the top stations in the country, and a contributor to CNBC, as well as a frequent guest on Fox News, CNN, Fox Business and other stations. Carol's multimedia commentary covers business and the economy, current events, politics and pop culture topics. Carol has helped her clients complete more than $2 billion in capital raising and M&A transactions. She is a Top 100 Small Business Influencer (2011-2015) and has her own action figure. Twitter: @CarolJSRoth
  • Lena_M

    WOW-World Of Wisdom:striking message,deserving another book.

  • This blunder is something I believe to be common with people with more money than brains or a committee in which the blame gets to be shifted around to others if a mistake is made.
    Multi-million dollar corporations almost always come with both of these. 
    Once a founder is out of the picture and a board of executives take over the idea of making your marketing pay for itself goes by the way side. In the beginning the founder had to make the smart marketing calls and had to make his advertising pay or else his business was going to be extinct. The Thunder corporate board can makes this kinda mistake and brush it off because of all the gross flying in the door come playoffs time. Be very interesting to see what the net looks like though.
    It would be wise for any small to medium sized business to beware any marketing strategy put into play by a committee of college trained and salaried executives who’ve never sold or marketed a damn thing in their entire life. 

  • I gain so much knowledge from this website. I also bookmark it for further knowledge. I like this post. I appreciate the great blog you have.

  • I admit I have not been on this blog in a long time it was joy to find it again. It is this important topic and ignored by so many even professionals ! I thank you for leaving people more aware of these issues. Just great stuff per usual !

  • Wow! That’s great post! It’s really wonderful. Thanks for sharing this.

  • LiynLing