Commentary: Fort Worth firm has the right stuff for creative sports marketing

PytchBlack design

The 2010 TCU Horned Frogs. The 2006 Boise State Broncos. PytchBlack Intelligent Design.

What do they have in common?

All three have taken on larger competition and emerged victorious. TCU and Boise each posted perfect 13-0 football seasons, and PytchBlack has emerged as a leader among intelligent design creators.

“We call it intelligent design because it’s being effective in what you say,” said Andrew Yanez, founder, managing partner and lead creator at Fort Worth-based PytchBlack.

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PytchBlack is all over the place in sports marketing, and this is one very busy time of year for the company. Their work can be seen at several bowl games, including:

• Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl Dec. 20.

• Mitsubishi Motors Las Vegas Bowl Dec. 21.

• Goodyear Cotton Bowl, a New Year’s Six game, Dec. 28 at Jerry World, aka AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

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• ServPro First Responder Bowl, at SMU’s Gerald J. Ford Stadium, Dec. 30.

• Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl, at TCU’s Amon Carter Stadium, Jan. 4.

Not only is PytchBlack involved in the aforementioned bowls, it has recently promoted the Armed Forces Classic basketball event in Anchorage, Alaska, featuring Baylor, and the Wooden Legacy three-day basketball event in Anaheim California.

“It’s pretty cool stuff we’re in the middle of,” Yanez said. “What we’ve learned is these next two weeks is the most watched time of the year in sports.”

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Indeed. And PytchBlack is right in the thick of it all, doing its magic with a staff of about a dozen, compared to larger organizations that have many times that many folks.

Out of their offices in Fort Worth, with some team members working remotely in Dallas and Seattle, PytchBlack handled branding, graphic design, digital media, and creative elements around these games.

On Selection Sunday for the College Football Playoff (Dec. 8) the team created announcement graphics for each game, and updated each event’s social media channels and digital presence in real time.

And that’s not all. PytchBlack also quickly turned around branded bus graphics for the New Year’s Six event, and a large number of printed elements with participating team branding – all in a few hectic hours.

“That is a machine,” Yanez said.

A well-tuned machine.

It helps that ESPN has apparently taken a liking to PytchBlack.

It all started in 2013 with the Armed Forces Bowl, which is owned by ESPN Events, Yanez said. He said his company grew the relationship by simply doing things others weren’t, such as attending events others may not have deemed important enough, or didn’t think they had time for.

But when you’re a little engine, you find a way to make it to the top on your own – and that’s what Yanez and PytchBlack did. And, now that they have, the right people have seen what they can produce, and now the right people want to do business with PytchBlack.

“I would say we’re like Seal Team Six,” he said. “We’re kind of stealthy.”

PytchBlack launched in 2013 after Yanez had established himself in the industry elsewhere.

The idea, he said, came from the simple belief that clients like to interact with creative people. The more creative they are, the better a client looks. Pretty simple, really.

“In effect, a need to go directly to the source. In the agency world account executives run the show, and sometimes they misinterpret the client’s direction because they are focused on taking notes,” he said. “I felt it was time to have the creative lead the charge.

“I have found that when a creative is listening to client’s direction, they instantly begin to solve the problem taking in the information directly from the client. Account execs can focus on other elements of the assignment.”

And if PytchBlack isn’t standing out, the client isn’t standing out, he said.

“We work in a fast-paced industry that requires a really big idea to stand out from the crowd,” Yanez said. “Whether it’s ticket sales, sponsorship integration, or event awareness, we deliver best-in-class quality concepts and executions. The impact of design in sports marketing is very apparent when you see that most college football teams rely heavily on design.”

Yanez cited the Oregon Ducks as an example with their designed-focus uniforms. Now, many other colleges are following suit – pun intended, he adds with a chuckle.

When PytchBlack launched, Yanez said the idea was to escape the traditional agency structure.

“Our model is more streamlined and efficient. Creatives multi-task as the media world has shifted from traditional broadcast and print media to mobile devices and other elements,” he said.

Adapt or die, it has been said. PytchBlack is very much alive.

Also, much like it helps a coach or manager to have played the game, the folks at PytchBlack have played the sports marketing game in a variety of applications. From event operations to sponsorship sales, activation, and other aspects of the sports industry, they’ve done it.

“We aren’t just creatives with an idea of what our clients do, we have been in their shoes and marry that experience to provide creative insight and guidance other agencies can’t,” Yanez said.

And if you think what they’ve already done is keeping them busy – which it certainly is – there’s even more.

In connection with the College Football Playoff, PytchBlack is working on something new for those in attendance.

“It doesn’t require an app. It’s pretty cool stuff for fans attending the games,” Yanez said. “It’s kind of working Snapchat and your smart phone.”

Keep your eyes open during playoff season and you’re likely to see one winner from Fort Worth: PytchBlack.