Alumni Spotlight: Kenyatta Bynoe
One by one, Kenyatta Bynoe '14 knows Spalding balls are hand-inspected and laser engraved. Weight, bounce, appearance, circumference, air retention, rebound—all are painstakingly reviewed for discrepancies.
Balls meeting the strict manufacturer specifications of Spalding, the company where Bynoe serves as vice president of marketing, are sold in retail stores and to teams around the world. Spalding sells baseballs, footballs, soccer balls, softballs and volleyballs worldwide, but it's most known for its full-grain, Horween leather NBA basketballs.
"People are surprised when they learn of our quality-control process," said Bynoe, who graduated with a master's degree from Eastern Michigan University's integrated marketing communication program in the College of Business. "We pay a high level of attention to the details."
Basketball is big business for Spalding.
In 2015, Spalding sold more than five million in the U.S. alone. What's more, the company has supplied official basketballs and backboards for the National Basketball Association for 32 years, providing every NBA team with 72 basketballs before the start of every season. As a result, Spalding's profits continue to grow.
In her role, Bynoe leads management of the strategic partnership with the NBA. This includes contract negotiations, fulfillment of product and sale at arena retail stores. She is also responsible for marketing strategy, advertising production, media planning, experiential marketing, social media, e-commerce and public relations.
"I manage the consumer touch points," said Bynoe, who is a big fan of the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers.
Under Bynoe's leadership, Spalding this year launched its #TrueBelievers marketing campaign, centered around driving athletes to play their best game. Throughout her 16-year marketing career, Bynoe has developed advertising campaigns ranked in the top five of USA Today Super Bowl Ad Meter and received Effie Awards for marketing effectiveness. She was also named to the Event Marketer "Dream Team" in recognition of innovative experiential marketing programs. Before joining Spalding, Bynoe served in the progressively responsible marketing roles for global brands such as Jeep, Microsoft and Volkswagen.
Bynoe champions ideas stretching conventional boundaries. She consistently deploys creative thinking and brand storytelling—developing compelling marketing and campaigns building brand health while delivering sound return on investment. She credits her EMU graduate business education with improving her career. She said the advantages of the program are learning practical knowledge and techniques from professors who are practitioners and looking at marketing from a more global perspective.
"The entire digital and social landscape is clearly evolving," she said. "It's grown into a dominating part of the overall marketing mix and is a lot easier to measure. That's where our consumers are living and consuming content. As a marketer, my eye has to be on the pulse of where consumers are."
Bynoe believes EMU's IMC program is for those who are "truly" passionate about marketing.
"IMC is the perfect degree program for those who want to hone our craft," she said. "Being fully online allowed me the flexibility to stay on track from anywhere in the world I was traveling. I learned practical knowledge and techniques, how to build 360-degree marketing and the most effective ways to execute them. I also learned from real marketing examples and how to become more in touch with the rapidly changing marketing landscape. It definitely heightened marketing as a discipline and helped me to more effectively target and reach consumers."
(NOTE: Not long after this feature, Kenyatta was promoted to Spalding's vice president of global brand marketing and partnerships.)