Chris Erb is the Sr. Director of Partnership Marketing at EA SPORTS. He lives in Orlando, FL with his wife and (soon to be) twin boys. Follow Chris on Twitter @chriserb
1.) Who are you and what do you do?
A: My name is Christopher Erb and I am the Sr. Director of Partnership Marketing for EA SPORTS.
I’ve been at EA for 6 years. I ran the marketing programs for our Madden franchise from Madden 06 through Madden 09. And I am now running all of our external partner relationships for the EA SPORTS brand. Everything from our Coca Cola promotion with our FIFA World Cup game to our program that allowed consumers to vote for the Madden 11 cover through Doritos. All those programs that happen promotionally or integrated into the games come through my group.
2.) What career path landed to where you are today?
A: I look at it in two ways. I always wanted to be in entertainment because it’s something I’m passionate about. I’ve also wanted to be as well rounded a marketer as possible. I started my career doing marketing for a company called Gameworks, which is a Steven Spielberg owned arcade game company. I felt like that job really got me doing some fun events and venue based things. I left that and I wanted to get some internet experience so I spent a year at Drugstore.com during the height of the internet boom. After that I went to Wizards of the Coast in Seattle where I spent 5 years. There I ran the Pokeman brand, Neopets and the Star Wars trading card game. The goal of that was to get product experience and knowledge. I left there and I came to EA SPORTS. And as I mentioned, I ran the marketing for Madden where I got a lot more product experience and now I’m running partnership marketing across the entire label. To be able to work on everything from product development to product marketing to venue based and internet based and now to the marketing and sales of promotional programs is what I really wanted to do; to be able to touch all those different facets of marketing.
3.) What aspects of your job to find most exciting and inspiring?
A: The thing I probably love most about my job is my access to Super Bowl tickets. I’m just kidding. The thing that I love most on a daily basis is just new challenges. How do we do this giant program with a partner and blow it out of the water and create something fun for our consumers? At the same time how do we do something really cool on the business side for us and our partners? We recently came off the Doritos promotion where we allowed Doritos consumers to pick the cover of Madden NFL 11 and that was great because the whole idea is getting to work with a really powerful company like Frito Lay. And how can we do something really cool and let people get in and for the first time actually vote for the cover of Madden. The Madden cover has always been something that we’ve done internally and decisions we’ve made behind a wall that no one’s ever seen. So for us to find a way to pull back the curtain and let consumers have a voice in the selection of the cover was great. And it was fun to find the right partner and the right brand to really make that come to life for consumers. So to answer your original question; finding fun creative things to do to give consumers great experiences is what inspires me most.
4.) You’re expecting twins. Has your life changed already with your wife being pregnant?
A: No, I don’t think it’s changed. Obviously we were planning to have a child and when it becomes twins it you kind of say, “oh,ok.” We had a game plan for when we were going to be able to have a baby and when it twins it changes that game plan up a little bit. I think like anything else in life, we got an exciting curve ball so we’ve needed to change and adapt. At first it was scary but with everyday that passed we’ve gotten excited that there’s going to be twins. There’re always going to have a playmate, there are lots of benefits of having twins and us figuring that out is great. One of the cool things my wife did was go out in our community and find a group or mothers with multiples. It’s a really big group here in Orlando that can give us advice on how to manage twins. People that are experienced can give us advice so that is really helpful. We kind of think we understand what one baby means, but what does two mean. This is our first two babies so really we don’t know any different than twins. People have said, “Wow I can’t imagine having two at once,” but we won’t know anything other than that.
5.) What aspects of upcoming fatherhood are you most anxious about?
A: In the short term it’s making sure you get your house ready for the babies. I’m child proofing locks and stuff like that but they’re newborns. I think I probably need to work off a tighter schedule. I’m worried about making sure my pool is protected and having talks about drugs with my kids and then I stop and say “wait a minute” there’s probably a timeline for this stuff. I don’t think I have to be prepared and scheduled for that stuff yet. So there’s a lot of things to do it’s just trying to put them in the right order. Things like buy a crib and paint the room, the small things and then the bigger things like making sure the house is child proofed and ready for the baby. And making sure that mom is comfortable coming home with the newborns and that everything is right for her. So that’s the short term stuff. The long term thing I think is obviously sleep. That’s the thing that everyone talks about is how much sleep I’m not going to get. SO we have to figure out how to make that work for us. And after that it’s just how we live our lives the way we are now but with the kids. Kids aren’t going to make us give up a lifestyle, they’re going to make us enjoy taking our kids through the lifestyle we’re having. So it’s whether we’re going out and doing things or staying in and doing things, how do we incorporate kids into that.
6.) What’s your plan for work/life balance?
A: Yeah, I think we’re going to kind of just see how it goes. I travel a lot for work; we live in Florida and my wife works in Seattle. She works from the house three weeks out of the month but one week she goes to Seattle. She’s decided to keep her job after the kids are born so it’s working with nannies and daycares and trying to find the right way to get that balance. For my wife to continue to have her career while making sure our kids are growing up in the right environment and getting our undying love. You’re talking to an expectant father so we’re in the middle of planning all that stuff and I don’t think we have the answers for everything but that’s kind of the fun adventure for trying to go through this thing.
7.) How do you get information about fatherhood as an expectant dad?
A: To be honest with you if you had asked me this question 20 years ago it would have been different, but now you have the internet. So I think you get information in all kinds of ways. I’m an online guy so I research things online. The people around me are in the middle of having kids or have had kids so I go to work friends and instead of talking about the game the entire lunch, we’ll talk about the game for part of the lunch and during the other part I’ll questions or quiz them on their kids. My wife has done an amazing job of building a circle in a new city for us and creating a network. And really using that network and finding that women’s group of multiple mothers in Orlando and really tapping into that. You can’t be embarrassed or nervous to ask questions. You have to feel comfortable enough to ask, “What’s the best way to handle this?” To be honest, people that have kids love to give advice. That’s the last thing I need is more advice. We’re getting it from every angle, from everybody. We really appreciate everything but if I hear one more time about how I need a Bob stroller my head is going to spin. Nine months ago I didn’t know what the hell a Bob Stroller was; now I know I have to get the double wide Bob stroller instead of the front to back.
8.) What brands did you love growing up that you’re excited to share with your twins?
A: I’m in the entertainment business, so I think media and entertainment. I’m stoked to take my kids to Yankees Stadium for the first time. I can’t wait to buy those tickets and walk up to the gate with my kids. I’m also in the sports business so you know I’m going to call up the Orlando Magic and ask how old you have to be to be a ball boy, because my kids are going to be ball boys. That’s the kind of thing I’m most passionate about. I can’t wait to sit down and watch Star Wars with my kids. My family game night with my kids will be on XBOX. Where my parents would break out the Monopoly board game when I was a kid, the Hasbro Family Game Night is going to be our Friday Night. I’m kind of a nerd and that’s my Friday night anyway and now I’m just going to have more people to whoop in it.
Aug. 23, 1010 Update:
The twins are here! Congrats Chris!