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Our Town Drew Mills

Legendary Advertising Executive Andy Ockershausen Interviews Drew Mills of Mills Marketing & Communications On Andy’s Our Town Podcast.   You can listen to the interview by clicking on the play button below.  The transcription of the podcast is also listed below.

“I am honored to have been interviewed by my long time friend Andy Ockershausen on his podcast Our Town!   Andy and his wife Janice Ockershausen from Best Bark Communications were kind enough to talk with me about my career and views on the Sports Marketing industry.  The podcast takes a look at the early days of Sports Marketing in Washington DC which includes my first sports marketing job with the Washington Wizards, the early days at Home Team Sports, and it ends with our agency work with GEICO in their sports marketing efforts across the country.  Thanks for the opportunity, Andy and Janice!  Drew Mills

 

Drew Mills on leaving Comcast SportsNet to start his own business ~

“I remember Jeff said, ‘You can’t leave, you have the best job in America.’ I said, ‘Jeff, I’m leaving. I’m starting my own business.’”

A Ockershausen: This is Andy Ockershausen and this is Our Town, and have a great, great opportunity to talk to a very dear friend that I worked with for a while when I worked. Now I don’t work anymore. You understand that, Drew.
Drew Mills: I do, I do.
A Ockershausen: My wife … 24/7 I work now. A man who grew up in Washington, was a great high school athlete, and was very well-known around the area. And I know he’s a local, even though he grew up in Arlington, or was born in Arlington. Arlington is Our Town, Drew. Welcome to our town.
Drew Mills: Yes it is.
A Ockershausen: It’s all over.
Drew Mills: It’s all over town.
A Ockershausen: We go all over. Our Town goes all the way to Anne Arundel, as far as I’m concerned.
Drew Mills: That’s right, that’s right.
A Ockershausen: We have friends in Warrenton, Lynchburg. It’s our town. Everything in the greater Washington area is our town. And you made such an impact.
So tell me, Drew, about your early days, growing up in Arlington. Your family is how … seven generations?

Drew Mills – Seventh Generation Washingtonian – Homegrown History

Drew Mills: Seventh generation Washingtonians, yup. So they all grew up in the Glover Park … my parents grew up in Glover Park, my grandparents grew up in Glover Park. My grandfather was a milkman, back in the day.
A Ockershausen: Is that right? What’s the dairy? Chestnut Farm?
Drew Mills: Yeah, that’s right. You got it.
Yeah, you got it.
A Ockershausen: You know that was on Pennsylvania Avenue, that’s now it’s a big office building.
Drew Mills: Yeah.
A Ockershausen: You know, they used to have cows in there, I remember that.
Drew Mills: Yeah, so we go way back.
A Ockershausen: Way back, way back. And your dad grew up, and he’s local. He grew up with some people that I know real well.
Drew Mills: That’s right.
A Ockershausen: Frank Ford, who we don’t have anymore.
Drew Mills: Uh huh.
A Ockershausen: We miss Frank.
Drew Mills: Jim Cacheris.
A Ockershausen: The judge.
Drew Mills: The judge.
A Ockershausen: You know, the judge and I were honored one night by Arlingtonians for a Better Community. Got some special award, I’ve got it somewhere. Just the judge and I. And the judge must’ve let somebody off from a drunk driving … I don’t know why. They honored me because we were doing something about drunk driving.
Drew Mills: Sure, sure.
A Ockershausen: And Jimmy was there.
Drew Mills: He was a nice man.
A Ockershausen: But Drew, how did a guy go from Arlington to D.C. to Gaithersburg?
Drew Mills: Well, in the ’60s, my parents were young and trying to get ahead, and Gaithersburg was a lot cheaper to live. So they moved–
A Ockershausen: That’s true.
Drew Mills: From Arlington to Gaithersburg, and they bought their first house.
A Ockershausen: Well you couldn’t afford Arlington now, but Gaithersburg–
Drew Mills: Correct.
A Ockershausen: Always to me was like being in the country.
Drew Mills: Farm land.
A Ockershausen: Is that right? And Montgomery.
Drew Mills: It was, oh yeah. It was farm land back there, yeah. Back then.
A Ockershausen: Well, one time the athletes that I know that Gaithersburg, when you were in school–

High School Football – Gaithersburg

Drew Mills: Sure.
A Ockershausen: The kids were tough. That was a tougher school–
Drew Mills: Yeah, we had a good football team.
A Ockershausen: Absolutely.
Drew Mills: In high school, Gaithersburg High.
A Ockershausen: I know, and your coach–
Drew Mills: John Harvill, legendary.
A Ockershausen: John Harvill and Charlie Brotman were contemporaries, did you know that?
Drew Mills: He went to McKinley Tech.
A Ockershausen: Went to McKinley Tech.
Drew Mills: Yup.
A Ockershausen: And that you wore number 11, and were a prolific passer.
Drew Mills: I was, in fact one of those pictures you’ve got–
A Ockershausen: I love the pictures, Drew.
Drew Mills: There’s a picture of me throwing over Brian Holloway, he played in the NFL for six years.
A Ockershausen: Is that right?
Drew Mills: Yeah.
A Ockershausen: Who was your opponent? What league were you in? Was it 1A?
Drew Mills: No, we were top, double A–
A Ockershausen: 5A?
Drew Mills: Double A in Maryland, which was the top division at the time.
A Ockershausen: Well now there’s so many schools, there must be 50 schools.
Drew Mills: Yeah, they realigned them, yeah. But we had a good team. Harvill coached for 40, over 49 years, I believe.
A Ockershausen: Is that right?
Drew Mills: Yeah.
A Ockershausen: He found a home. But Gaithersburg was in a league with other … with Richard Montgomery, were they in your league?
Drew Mills: No, they were a little … they were smaller. So we had the largest school in Montgomery County at the time. I graduated in ’76.
A Ockershausen: Was BCC in your group?
Drew Mills: No, they were smaller too. We were with Churchill–
A Ockershausen: How about Blair?
Drew Mills: Blair, Perry, who else was in our division?
A Ockershausen: What was the one … oh, I had a name. Oh god I can’t think of it.
Drew Mills: Springbrook was in our division.
A Ockershausen: Springbrook. That’s a big school, right?
Drew Mills: Yeah.
A Ockershausen: That’s where … Schuster’s friend went to Springbrook, didn’t he?
Drew Mills: Shawn Springs.
A Ockershausen: Shawn Springs.
Drew Mills: That’s right.
A Ockershausen: Now, but Gaithersburg was in a league of its own. But you went from Gaithersburg, you went back to Virginia and went back to school at …

Drew Mills on the College Years at James Madison University

Drew Mills: James Madison University, that’s right.
A Ockershausen: James Madison. Did you play ball down at James Madison?
Drew Mills: I … I went down there with the intention of playing, but–
A Ockershausen: Did they recruit you?
Drew Mills: Got side … yeah, I got sidetracked by the fraternity, getting into a fraternity, so. I parlayed that for a couple years, since I played baseball. I did play baseball before I went down there, for two years.
A Ockershausen: You did?
Drew Mills: Yeah.
A Ockershausen: But you didn’t do football at James–
Drew Mills: I did not, no. I was recruited for a variety of different smaller schools–
A Ockershausen: Right.
Drew Mills: But I didn’t play at JMU.
A Ockershausen: Well the Dukes, there were several Redskin players over the years that came out of James Madison, right?
Drew Mills: Charles Haley–
A Ockershausen: Yeah, I mean really–
Drew Mills: Scott Norwood, who was … lived in my cluster, played wide right for the Bills.
A Ockershausen: I always thought that–
Drew Mills: Gary Clark.
A Ockershausen: Yeah, Gary I knew. I always thought that that was a smaller school than it is, but that is a huge campus. I visited the campus.
Drew Mills: They won the National Championship this year, and the …
A Ockershausen: Isn’t that great?
Drew Mills: Yeah. It’s 21,000 students.
A Ockershausen: But the first time I thought James Madison was like 500 students and I drove down there one time and went through the campus, I couldn’t believe it.
Drew Mills: It’s massive now.
A Ockershausen: Massive school.
Drew Mills: Both sides of Route 81.
A Ockershausen: Yup. And some good athletic names. And so, what led you from Gaithersburg, being an athlete, led you into the world of sports?
Drew Mills: Well, having played sports growing up, through elementary school, middle school, high school, I wanted to keep involved. And back in those days, the industry of sports marketing had just started.
A Ockershausen: Yup.
Drew Mills: So–
A Ockershausen: That was the title.
Drew Mills: Yeah, and at JMU they had a major in it that … it was a little misguided, but that’s one of the reasons that attracted me down there.
A Ockershausen: But your dad was in the food business, wasn’t he?
Drew Mills: He was. That’s a good memory.

On His Dad

A Ockershausen: When I first met your dad, it was something to do with Giant, but he–
Drew Mills: Well, he worked for Stouffer Foods.
A Ockershausen: Oscar Mayer, didn’t he represent–
Drew Mills: Stouffer. Nestle, which … Stouffer Foods.
A Ockershausen: Is that right?
Drew Mills: Yeah, he was the Regional East Coast Director.
A Ockershausen: Nestle?
Drew Mills: Nestle owns Stouffer’s.
A Ockershausen: That’s what I thought.
Drew Mills: Yeah.
A Ockershausen: Nestle’s just announced they’re moving their headquarters–
Drew Mills: To Arlington, exactly.
A Ockershausen: To Arlington. They’re going back to your . . .
Drew Mills: They’re going to Arlington, yeah.
A Ockershausen: Do you believe that?
Drew Mills: It’s funny how that works out.
A Ockershausen: Things goes around, Drew.
Drew Mills: Yeah.
A Ockershausen: And they’re a Swiss company, anyway, right?
Drew Mills: I was just telling my dad about that the other day.
A Ockershausen: Wow. Is he still connected–
Drew Mills: He still talks to some people that had worked for them.
A Ockershausen: I remember he used to be a big help when Giant Food had their giant–
Drew Mills: Yeah, that’s right.
A Ockershausen: Golf tournament every year.
Drew Mills: He’s involved in that.
A Ockershausen: Your dad was involved in that.
Drew Mills: The … was it “Grocery Wheels”, was that the name of the …
A Ockershausen: Oh yeah, the “Wheels” were great …
Drew Mills: Yeah, he was involved, I think he might’ve been the president of that at one point.
A Ockershausen: Grocery Wheels, I remember that. And Joe Danzansky and the guys from Giant were a part–
Drew Mills: Yeah.
A Ockershausen: That was the group … they had grocery manufacturers too.
Drew Mills: That’s right–
A Ockershausen: GMR.
Drew Mills: GMR, yeah.
A Ockershausen: But the “Wheels” were both retailers and wholesalers, and stores, and customers. It was a great–
Drew Mills: You’ve got a good memory, Andy.
A Ockershausen: Well, I was one of them. I got to be President of the “Wheels”, I don’t know how.
Drew Mills: Yeah.
A Ockershausen: I said, “I don’t know enough about food but I can eat.”
Drew Mills: Yeah, that’s good.
A Ockershausen: We had our meetings at Kenwood, I’ll never forget that.
Drew Mills: Yeah.
A Ockershausen: But they were … you know, Drew, it’s terrible to say, this was a small town.
Drew Mills: Oh, absolutely.
A Ockershausen: Our town was a group where you knew everybody. Particularly in my age group, and we still meet. There’s still a group of us that meet once a month, that you would walk down certain parts of our city and say hello to people, because you knew everybody.
Drew Mills: Oh yeah.
A Ockershausen: Now it’s another world, Drew.
Drew Mills: Well, it’s–
A Ockershausen: It’s a great world.
Drew Mills: Yeah, it’s a nice city, but it’s large now.
A Ockershausen: Yeah, it’s huge, huge. We’ll be right back, I’m talking to Drew Mills, and we’re going to get into his illustrious career in marketing, sports marketing. And this is Andy Ockershausen, this is Our Town.
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Announcer: You’re listening to Our Town.
A Ockershausen: This is Andy Ockershausen. This is Our Town. We’re talking to my pal, Drew Mills, the erstwhile Andrew Mills.
Drew Mills: That’s right.
A Ockershausen: I wonder why you never used the name Andrew. Andy’s a pretty good name.
Drew Mills: Andy … you already had that covered, Andy. So I didn’t want to have another Andy out there.
A Ockershausen: So how in the world do you go from this great athletic career and go into sports marketing? End up with a job at the sports world, with … the first time I knew, heard about you, you were working for Abe Pollin.
Drew Mills: Yeah, that was my first job. I started two weeks after I graduated from college.
A Ockershausen: Were you an intern?
Drew Mills: I was an entry-level salesperson, sort of.
A Ockershausen: Right.

On Working for Abe Pollin and the Washington Bullets

Drew Mills: Yeah, so. Beating the doors, trying to make some sales. And I parlayed that into a long, 11 years there.
A Ockershausen: That’s incredible. You lasted longer than anybody.
Drew Mills: Yeah.
A Ockershausen: Exactly. Jerry Sachs, poor Jerry got the … we’ll talk about that, but–
Drew Mills: Jerry’s doing well.
A Ockershausen: That’s why … I got lucky to get into this business here at WMAL at the bottom. I could run the switchboard, I could change the Coke machine, and I just … by osmosis I got into sales.
Drew Mills: Sure.
A Ockershausen: And working with the sports announcer named Jim Gibbons. That was the broadcaster here.
Drew Mills: Sure.
A Ockershausen: I mean, we were big time. We did the Redskins with a guy named Harry Wismer, that was the announcer. And being around those people led me into sales. And I got fortunate in there. It happened almost like, they gave me a list–
Drew Mills: Sure.
A Ockershausen: And say, go call on these people. No business–
You had to develop your business from the ground.
Drew Mills: You had to make it happen, yeah. And I did pretty well there. I sort of worked my way up pretty quickly.
A Ockershausen: Susan was your boss?
Drew Mills: Well, I was there a long time before she ever entered the picture, but … she ultimately was …
A Ockershausen: Is that right? You were there 11 years, Drew?
Drew Mills: Yeah, mm-hmm (affirmative).
A Ockershausen: Well you lived through some times, didn’t you?
Drew Mills: Yeah, when I started there, we still had Wes Unseld was still playing. Kevin Grevey, Phil Chenier.
A Ockershausen: Were you there when they had the championship game?
Drew Mills: I came in ’81, and they had won in ’78.
A Ockershausen: ’78, ’79, two good years.
Drew Mills: But I worked for Bob Ferry, who’s still around.
A Ockershausen: Yeah.
Drew Mills: And talk to. Good guy.
A Ockershausen: And his son hit the jackpot, did he not?
Drew Mills: Danny Ferry, yeah.
A Ockershausen: Is he still a big man with Cleveland?
Drew Mills: No, he most recently was with Atlanta. He’s general manager there, he’s not–
A Ockershausen: Danny? Well that’s a pretty good franchise too.
Drew Mills: I think last year he left there.
A Ockershausen: And you lived in the glory years because that’s when they came off the championship and everybody was hoping it was going to happen again, and it didn’t.
Drew Mills: Yeah, we were still good. The team was … we still had a lot of good players–
A Ockershausen: Very competitive.
Drew Mills: Bobby Dandridge, Wes, Elvin Hayes was still there when I started. So I got to see a lot of the Big E —
A Ockershausen: Why … you didn’t follow your baseball career in any way?
Drew Mills: Ultimately I wanted to work for a baseball team, but of course D.C. didn’t have a team, so that never materialized.
A Ockershausen: Now you own the team.
Drew Mills: So yeah, I enjoyed working for Mr. Pollin and Jerry Sachs–
A Ockershausen: Yeah, yeah.
Drew Mills: And Bob. Bob is my mentor. They’re very good people.
A Ockershausen: The characters that they … Abe surrounded himself with characters, which I thought was … that was Abe’s mantra. He had his friends and he kept them, baby.
Drew Mills: He’s very loyal.
A Ockershausen: Loyalty, loyalty, right?
Drew Mills: Very loyal, very loyal.
A Ockershausen: To everybody. I was thinking … Hymie Perlo.
Drew Mills: Hymie, he was a good friend.
A Ockershausen: Was he a piece of work?
Drew Mills: Hymie was the best. He reminded me a little bit of you. But he–
A Ockershausen: We went to different churches.
Drew Mills: Yeah, that’s true. But he was a great.
A Ockershausen: Hymie’s brother, and Hymie. We just put them in the sports hall of fame. His brother was quite an athlete growing up.
Drew Mills: Phil. Phil Purlo.
A Ockershausen: Younger than Hymie.
Drew Mills: Phil, right?
A Ockershausen: What was their friend’s name, that had the toupe? That … Lew.
Drew Mills: Lew Strudler.
A Ockershausen: Strudler. What a great guy.
Drew Mills: Yeah, yeah.
A Ockershausen: He still around, isn’t he?
Drew Mills: Lew still works over there.
A Ockershausen: You do business with him, Drew, of course?
Drew Mills: GEICO does a lot of business with them, yeah.
A Ockershausen: You know, we had the pleasure … we had a phone call one day from Irene Pollin’s book agent, said she’d written a book–
Drew Mills: She was on your podcast.

A Ockershausen: And she came on, and she was great. As a matter of fact, she sent me a couple people since then that want some help with their podcast, which I know nothing about, Drew.
Drew Mills: Uh huh.
A Ockershausen: You’ve got to explain to me what a pod is. The only one that knows is my Janice. My wife knows it.
Drew Mills: Janice has a handle on it.
A Ockershausen: She is the boss, baby. And she’s educating me.
Drew Mills: Well you guys are a good team. You guys are a good match.

On Working at Comcast SportsNet

A Ockershausen: So here you are, with an illustrious career. And then you get a call from somebody from Comcast … no, Home Team Sports.
Drew Mills: That’s right, that’s true. Jeff Wagner, our good friend Jeff Wagner.
A Ockershausen: Well, I think that Jeff used that as sort of training ground and hired people. Because after you came Schuster, right, out of that–
Drew Mills: He came a few years later, yeah.
A Ockershausen: Yeah. But–
Drew Mills: Jon Cherney, you, me, De Cordell.
A Ockershausen: We had a great, great bunch.
Drew Mills: We had a good team. Jeff.
A Ockershausen: That was the years when the Orioles were hot, and going to Baltimore.
Drew Mills: Yeah.
A Ockershausen: I’m trying to remember what the young lady’s name, we worked with, used to get lost going to the Baltimore stadium. And I’d say, “I think you’ve been there,” she says, “I’m there all the time but I can’t find it.”
Drew Mills: Who, Nancy ?
A Ockershausen: Nancy Porstal. She got lost, Drew, going to the Orioles Stadium.
Drew Mills: She got lost in her neighborhood going for a walk, I think.
A Ockershausen: One day they locked them both out of the house. We had to get the cops to get her in.
Drew Mills: Yeah.
A Ockershausen: But they were fun days. That was–
Drew Mills: Those were good days.
A Ockershausen: Beginning of the cable industry, correct?
Drew Mills: That was. And ironically, I was involved, sort of from the beginning, with the Wizards and cable, because I used to work on the other side of the fence at the Bullets when Jeff and Jodie Shapiro–
A Ockershausen: Oh yeah.
Drew Mills: Came into … and Dick Glover came in to negotiate the first cable contract. Back in 1984 when that happened, most teams did not want to cover their home games because they thought it would hurt their home attendance.
A Ockershausen: Right.
Drew Mills: So they were very reluctant to do a cable deal.
A Ockershausen: Yeah.
Drew Mills: But we were one of the first teams to do it. I think Westinghouse launched the Home Team Sports. They launched one in Pittsburgh and they launched one in Seattle. And they wanted to have one in every market in the country, but those were the only three they got off the ground. So we were one of the first pioneers, I’m working on the other side of the fence, working for a team.
A Ockershausen: Yeah, you got both sides, right.
Drew Mills: To do a cable deal. And then how ironically, I go to work with Jeff over there years later.
A Ockershausen: Right. You went from the poor side to the rich side.
Drew Mills: Well, cable’s done tremendous–
A Ockershausen: What about your … by this time, you’d gotten out of baseball of course.
Drew Mills: Yeah.
A Ockershausen: Remember, we used to sell Baltimore over the air? We used to … we bought time–
Drew Mills: JZ, WJZ, WB50, yeah.
A Ockershausen: That’s right. I do recall that–
Drew Mills: We sold the cable side and the over the air side.
A Ockershausen: Broadcast. And they got enormous numbers on Channel 13 in Baltimore, the Orioles.
Drew Mills: Oh, still do.
A Ockershausen: 50s and 60s, I mean they were incredible.
Drew Mills: Yeah. Yeah, they still get large numbers.
A Ockershausen: Remember, we’d call Baltimore, Mr. Baseball Town, or something. Baseball, USA. A great. . .
Drew Mills: We did have a nickname. I think you’re right.
A Ockershausen: Was that not a great sports franchise?
Drew Mills: Oh, it was great in those days. Camden Yards had just opened up.
A Ockershausen: Oh yeah. ’92.
Drew Mills: There was a phenomena going to an Orioles game and watching it.
A Ockershausen: And then you lived through all those good and tough days when we were all struggling to make a buck. And Jeff Wagner says, “Well Drew is leaving.” I said, “Why would he leave? He’s making a fortune. He’s got all the good accounts.” He said, “Oh, Drew is starting his own company.”
Drew Mills: Yeah.
A Ockershausen: And I’ll never forget that, that must’ve been in the late ’90s, right?
Drew Mills: No, that was … ’97, you’re right.
A Ockershausen: Yeah, when you started–

On Leaving Comcast SportsNet and Starting Mills Marketing & Communications

Drew Mills: I remember Jeff said, “You can’t leave, you have the best job in America.” I said, “Jeff, I’m leaving. I’m starting my own business.”
A Ockershausen: Oh I remember that.
Drew Mills: He goes, “Well we’ll create something so you can still keep your foot”–
A Ockershausen: When you started, was it called Mills Marketing? Was that the original name?
Drew Mills: Yeah, same name. target=”_blank”>Mills Marketing Communications, yeah.
A Ockershausen: Well we’re going to talk about Mills Marketing and the success they’re in, and of course everything else about Drew Mills and we’ll talk about it. This is Andy Ockershausen and this is Our Town.
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Announcer: You’re listening to Our Town with Andy Ockershausen. Brought to you by Best Bark Communications.

A Ockershausen: This is Andy Ockershausen. This is Our Town, we’re talking to Drew Mills. The man who established his own company, left me in the dirt, to establish Mills Marketing and represents one of the great–
Drew Mills: I left one of the HTS license plate on your car, on your Lincoln.
A Ockershausen: It’s not the greatest, it’s almost the greatest company in the world, GEICO, representing them in the sports marketing world. And it’s staggering how that has grown, Drew.
Drew Mills: It’s amazing.
A Ockershausen: In your years. 20 years. ’97 to … coming up this spring.

On GEICO

Drew Mills: Yeah, almost … it’ll be 20 years this … yeah. It’s been a great ride. And the company is well run, and you know Mr. Ted Ward, he’s an excellent–
A Ockershausen: Oh god, yeah. Tony Nicely. Got to be nice to the boss too.
Drew Mills: Tony Nicely, and they’re a phenomenal group of visionaries. They’ve done an amazing job.
A Ockershausen: To have the Buffett stamp has been a great boon, I know, to GEICO. He knows what he’s doing and he lets the company run itself.
Drew Mills: He lets the management run the show.
A Ockershausen: And they return a big dividend to him every year.
Drew Mills: Yeah, it’s been great.
A Ockershausen: So how … you’re in 119 different sports franchises as a–
Drew Mills: Over the years, yeah. That includes–
A Ockershausen: That’s incred … how do you keep track of them, Drew?
Drew Mills: Well, that includes major league teams, and minor league teams, and we do a lot of colleges and leagues and conferences. It’s–
A Ockershausen: Stadiums.
Drew Mills: Stadiums.
A Ockershausen: Got a lot of stadium signage. Did you get them
Drew Mills: Stadiums. It’s full encompassing.
A Ockershausen: As I recall, you got them into signage very deeply, correct?
Drew Mills: Yeah, we initially … when I first started working with GEICO–
A Ockershausen: 20 years ago.
Drew Mills: We did a lot of signage in NFL stadiums, NBA arenas, NHL dasher boards, Major League Baseball stadiums. So we’re forerunners, back in those days. Not many other insurance companies … any of them did any advertising in the stadiums. So we were sort of the trailblazers in that area.
A Ockershausen: No question about that, Drew. As a viewer, I see that.
Drew Mills: Yeah.
A Ockershausen: That I never saw them on TV until GEICO made this big impression. Now everybody’s doing it.
Drew Mills: Yeah, it woke up everyone.
A Ockershausen: You can see the elephant now. Which I understand is from England. Send them back to Africa, wherever he came from.
Drew Mills: Yeah. The elephant.
A Ockershausen: But Drew … in addition to signage, you have a lot of franchises that you …
Drew Mills: Yes, we work with individual teams and conferences.
A Ockershausen: Do you have exclusives? Is that difficult to get, I guess, now, isn’t it?
Drew Mills: Well, we don’t really get into those kinds of details, but we negotiate good deals.
A Ockershausen: Well, you know, I’ve been around so long, when I grew up, particularly in radio, in radio, the commercials, had to be … automobile had to be 15 minutes apart.
Drew Mills: Sure.
A Ockershausen: I mean, that’s the way we planned the log.
Drew Mills: Yeah.
A Ockershausen: In TV, we did the same thing. We never run them back to back.
Drew Mills: We ask for maximum separation.
A Ockershausen: Now, one after one after one. Automobile, particularly.
Drew Mills: Yeah, well auto’s categories, you know you’ve got a glut of advertisers. But yeah, we ask for maximum separation.
A Ockershausen: And you also negotiate positions, do you not? When you buy these franchises?
Drew Mills: Yeah, absolutely. It’s … we look at it from all perspectives and buy signage that’s going to fit what we need, and get the most exposures for us, and for GEICO, and you know, we go from there.
A Ockershausen: I think I saw it, didn’t you have … at the end of the Super Bowl didn’t you have a GEICO spot? As I recall, something popped up.
Drew Mills: Not during the Super Bowl.
A Ockershausen: Right after it.
Drew Mills: Yeah, it might–
A Ockershausen: You didn’t pay five million.
Drew Mills: No, no, no.
A Ockershausen: No way. But there was a spot around, at least … it might have been a local cable spot, ’cause we were in Florida.
Drew Mills: Yeah maybe … yeah, it was probably a local spot. Yeah.
A Ockershausen: And they worked it in. So sometimes now, what we’re doing in television, is you know where the spot’s from.
Drew Mills: Yeah, well there’s local insertions–
A Ockershausen: Cable companies.
Drew Mills: A lot … cable insertions, you got local over the air stations.
A Ockershausen: We used to go nuts, and you did too, when we were selling air time on Comcast SportsNet, our other company was selling the same time, a lot cheaper than we were.
Drew Mills: Spotlight.
A Ockershausen: Is that correct?
Drew Mills: The company Spotlight.
A Ockershausen: We went through that for years.
Drew Mills: Yeah, yeah.
A Ockershausen: Spotlight is a goldmine for the company.
Drew Mills: Oh, absolutely.
A Ockershausen: Oh my. Because they have no product problem. They don’t pay for anything, right? They just run it.
Drew Mills: Mike Miller, I believe, still heads that up.
A Ockershausen: Yeah, he’s a wonderful guy, and has a wonderful idea.
Drew Mills: Mike and worked together for Abe, we both worked for Abe Pollin.
A Ockershausen: So you got into racing, too, did you … automobile … I mean boat racing, didn’t you … I mean I love that …

Miss GEICO

Drew Mills: The Miss GEICO?
A Ockershausen: Miss GEICO, you know. It took me for a ride in Miss GEICO, and the guy driving the boat was paying no attention, and I warned him, and we ended up on the beach, in the middle of a river. We were stopped, we couldn’t stop. We had to wait for the tide.
Janice IaconA Ockershausen: A sand bar.
A Ockershausen: A sand bar.
Drew Mills: Yeah, yeah.
A Ockershausen: On Miss GEICO.
Drew Mills: Where were you, in Florida or here?
A Ockershausen: No, right here in the West River.
Drew Mills: Okay.
A Ockershausen: I said, “We know the river. We’ll tell you, you can’t get through there.”
Drew Mills: Sure.
A Ockershausen: He did, so.
Drew Mills: So you were with Ted and Gary?
A Ockershausen: Some of the GEICO employees had to come rescue us. Pull us off that sand bar. We’d have still been there, probably.
Drew Mills: Yeah, yeah.
A Ockershausen: But that’s a big money maker. You spend a lot of money on racing, do you not?
Drew Mills: Yeah, that’s Mr. Ward’s, yeah.
A Ockershausen: And the airplanes too? Signage?
Drew Mills: We do a lot of on the beaches, a lot of the aerial banners.
A Ockershausen: And didn’t you have people that do the … there used to be a guy that you would rent to publicize … and one time didn’t they have a fleet of airplanes.
Drew Mills: Well, they actually … there’s a company that does it up and down the coast.
A Ockershausen: Oh it is. You don’t own them.
Drew Mills: No, no, no, no. It’s a company that does it.

On the Future of Sports Marketing

A Ockershausen: What do you foresee, Drew? What’s going to happen in this–
Drew Mills: in this industry?
A Ockershausen: in this competitive field that you’re in, the pricing and so forth.
Drew Mills: Well, it’s gotten very competitive. In the sports arena, you know, there’s … all the insurance companies now are involved. So it’s gotten really competitive. And then, sports in general’s gotten very competitive. More and more companies of all categories are now focusing on sports and sports sponsorships. It’s very, very competitive.
A Ockershausen: Well, because it’s live.
Drew Mills: It’s live sports, it’s hard … you know, your message is embedded in the event.
A Ockershausen: Right.
Drew Mills: It’s hard to Tivo it out, or take your message out. So it’s … it’s a hot place to be, live sports.
A Ockershausen: Now have you been tracking it, we’re reading and seeing the so-called beginning of the demise for the cable prices. Cable’s gotten so expensive, Drew.
Drew Mills: Well, the unbundling of cable–
A Ockershausen: Yeah.
Drew Mills: Yeah. It’s definitely happening.
A Ockershausen: Is that a possibility?
Drew Mills: Yeah, a lot of these new services, Hulu, and Netflix and you know, others that are out there, have made a dent.
A Ockershausen: And as this happens, there’s going to be a transition probably in pricing, too, wouldn’t you think?
Drew Mills: Oh absolutely.
A Ockershausen: Pricing’s gotten to … five million bucks for a 30, seems to me …
Drew Mills: Well the Super Bowl’s in a league of its own. I think that will stay the same. But a lot of the cable advertising–
A Ockershausen: There’s a lot of spinning out of that five million too, right? In addition to that spot, you get other stuff.
Drew Mills: Well, yeah there’s packaging of it, sure.
A Ockershausen: Packaging, right.
Drew Mills: Yeah. But yeah, I think ESPN supposedly has had some struggles recently with the unbundling.
A Ockershausen: I’m reading about the thing with Bob Iger, who I happened to know. He used to work for–
Drew Mills: Yeah, you know Bob well, don’t you?
A Ockershausen: For TV, he was like a gofer for Roone Arledge.
Drew Mills: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
A Ockershausen: And Jim Duffy and those guys. We’re talking about 30, 40 years ago. Bob Iger was in New York.
Drew Mills: Sure.
A Ockershausen: And they were all far-sighted, and they said this is going to be the world. And they started doing live sports. That grew out of Wonderful World of Sports, as you remember.
Drew Mills: Yup.
A Ockershausen: Now I’m reading about–
Drew Mills: Jim McKay.
A Ockershausen: Bob Iger saying that, “We have lost subscribers.” through ESPN–
Drew Mills: Oh, absolutely.
A Ockershausen: Like four or five million.
Drew Mills: Yeah, it’s …
A Ockershausen: That’s a lot of people.
Drew Mills: It’s a trend that’s … it’s happening.
A Ockershausen: Yup.
Drew Mills: And I don’t know if it’s going to accelerate, or stay the same. We’ll see where it goes.
A Ockershausen: It’s got to affect the pricing.
Drew Mills: Oh sure. ESPN … well it’s affecting ABC, it’s draining a lot of their revenue.
A Ockershausen: Yeah, I mean it’s incredible because they were charging, when they had … when they owned the world, but they don’t own it anymore. And they might have to break up all those networks too. That’s what Iger is saying, and he’s a pretty bright guy.
Drew Mills: Yeah.
A Ockershausen: So they put their money in animation, and made fortunes, right?
Drew Mills: They’ve–
A Ockershausen: ABC and Disney–
Drew Mills: That’s right. Now they have Marvel, they’ve–
A Ockershausen: Oh god.
Drew Mills: That’s been good for them. They have Star Wars, right?
A Ockershausen: Well Janice and I were fortunate enough … Janice more than me, but we did for a while work for Disney.
Drew Mills: Oh, I know, yeah.
A Ockershausen: And Janice worked for them for a long time. And I would say the difference between Disney and a lot of companies, Disney was broadcast-oriented, because that’s who ran the company.
Drew Mills: Sure.
A Ockershausen: They were broadcasters. They were not penny pinchers, and they spent money. ABC was a good company, Disney was a great company.
Drew, let me ask you a professional question.
Drew Mills: Sure.

Advice to Young People on Sports Marketing Career

A Ockershausen: That would be helpful. Do you have any advice that the young people … we get it all the time, I get it because I have my years at WMAL and growing up in the city, and knowing people. People call me, say, “My son wants to be in broadcasting,” I said, “Well, what’s he want to do?” They say, “He wants to be in television.” I say, “Tell him to become a tube.”
Drew Mills: A tube.
A Ockershausen: Well, I can’t give … there’s no sense of any in being in it. If you want to get in the business, you got … he said, “Well …” What would you advise them educationally, if they want to get into sports marketing?
Drew Mills: Well, the first thing they should do is … there’s many colleges that have that as a major now, so I would suggest that they major in sports marketing. There’s probably five times the number of colleges than when I went through college. So it’s a big major now–
A Ockershausen: Oh, that’s true.
Drew Mills: A lot of kids are taking it. And that gets you a good background. And then I would suggest doing an internship while you’re in college. You know, either at the school you go to, or the local teams, the minor league teams in your market, wherever you’re at. I would definitely do an internship, and that’ll get your foot in the door.
A Ockershausen: Well we went through a period at Home Team Sports and then Comcast SportsNet, bringing young interns in, and working with them, and watching them rise up in the business.
Drew Mills: Sure.
A Ockershausen: Both in production, sales, marketing, you name it. Now, NBC, I don’t know if other companies is it … you have to pay your interns. There’s no more–
Drew Mills: Well, yeah.
A Ockershausen: Pay deal. And so what our department head said, I know this for a fact, said, we’re not taking that out of our budget. We’re not hiring these kids.
Drew Mills: Sure.
A Ockershausen: And I think that’s a shame, because–
Drew Mills: It is.
A Ockershausen: Interns was a way to get into the business.
Drew Mills: No it is. And I’m thinking, and I’m sure we could verify that, the colleges still let you do an internship for credits, I think that’s still …
A Ockershausen: College credits, correct.
Drew Mills: Yeah, college credits. But you’re right, that’s–
A Ockershausen: When we jump to money, department heads are very careful with their budgets. They’re not fools, right?
Drew Mills: They’re cutting it out.
A Ockershausen: So you know, I agree to get that. I also … when we were talking to Jim Cuddihy about his son and what he’s doing and what he’s going to do. He’s a … I don’t think there’s a big market for rugby players after college. He knows that. But I advise them to take a history course, take geography, take civics. You know, learn more than just your specialty. Learn the world.
Drew Mills: Sure.
A Ockershausen: And I don’t know if they’re going to do that. That’s always been my advice. Although–
Drew Mills: Yeah, I would definitely, definitely–
A Ockershausen: My doctor, not my doctor, but he used to work for my guy named Steve Haas –< strong>Drew Mills: Oh yeah.
A Ockershausen: He’s a doctor for you.
Drew Mills: Butch MacCartee. Yeah, Butch MacCartee.
A Ockershausen: Butch McCartee and that group. And I said, what advice can you give me for health? He said, “Have healthy parents.”
Drew Mills: Good genes.
A Ockershausen: That’s what he said. He said, “You can’t plan that, Andy. It happens.”
Drew Mills: Good genes, help. Well you have good genes, Andy.
How old is your brother?
A Ockershausen: My brother lived over 100, and we were talking–
Drew Mills: Harry?
A Ockershausen: I was talking to Janice about that and watching the golf tournament–
Drew Mills: Harry’s over 100, right?
A Ockershausen: He used to go to golf tournaments all over the world. Go to New Zealand, go to France. We were watching Pebble Beach and he loved that tournament, every year.
Drew Mills: Sure.
A Ockershausen: You’ve been to Pebble, haven’t you?
Drew Mills: I sure have, yeah.
A Ockershausen: Where have you not been, Drew?
Drew Mills: Well, I’ve been fortunate to play a lot of good golf courses, which has been good.
A Ockershausen: Business-wise, correct?
Drew Mills: Yeah. Oh yeah.
A Ockershausen: You’re not on the tour or anything.
Drew Mills: No.
A Ockershausen: I know you’ve been to a lot of Super Bowls.
Drew Mills: Yeah, I’ve been to a lot of Super Bowls, a lot of All Star Games in all the sports, and pretty much …
A Ockershausen: Are you still a baseball fan?
Drew Mills: Yeah, I like baseball a lot. Yeah. Big fan of the Nats.
A Ockershausen: Aren’t you glad we got them? But we loved the Orioles too, remember our bull pen parties were special.
Drew Mills: They were great. They were great.
A Ockershausen: In Baltimore. That team was coming. Well we have had a wonderful, wonderful conversation with Drew Mills, Andrew Mills. And I don’t know why you dumped the name.
Drew Mills: Andy Mills.
A Ockershausen: Mills Marketing is such a force in sports in our country.
Drew Mills: Well, thank you Andy, it’s always a pleasure.
A Ockershausen: Money talks, Drew.
Drew Mills: You’re a good friend.
A Ockershausen: Well, it’s been a delight. I hope you give my best to your dad.
Drew Mills: I will.
A Ockershausen: We’ll find out when this is going to run and we’ll talk and make sure Janice tells you. We also have a … we’re kicking off our second Season, some time in May, at a special party at Tony and Joe’s, of course.
Drew Mills: Nice.
A Ockershausen: We give them a plug too, you know.
Drew Mills: They’re one of your sponsors, I hope.
A Ockershausen: Yeah, and GEICO will be there, of course.
Drew Mills: Ted will be there.
A Ockershausen: Mr. Ward loves–he’s well known there.
And we hope you, and Bill would come too. And it’s been a pleasure, Drew. You’re a special man, and I’m so proud of your success.
Drew Mills: Well you’re a good friend.
A Ockershausen: It’s been great, we’ve done it. I wish we still had Wagner, though.
Drew Mills: Jeff Wagner.
A Ockershausen: Oh my god.
Drew Mills: “What’s going on here.”
A Ockershausen: It’s been Drew Mills, this is Andy Ockershausen, this has been Our Town.
Announcer: You’ve been listening to Our Town, Season 2. Presented by GEICO. Our hometown favorite, with your host Andy Ockershausen. New Our Town episodes are released each Tuesday and Thursday. Drop us a line with your comments or suggestions. See us on Facebook, or visit our website at ourtowndc.com. Our special thanks to Ken Hunter, our technical director, and WMAL radio in Washington, D.C. for hosting our podcast. And thanks to GEICO. 15 minutes can save you 15% or more on car insurance.