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Coworking with Justin Leonard

He’s co-founder and CEO of Game Seven.
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Justin Leonard

· 3 min read

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Each week, we spotlight Marketing Brew readers in our Coworking series. If you’d like to be featured, introduce yourself here.

Justin Leonard is the co-founder and CEO of Game Seven, the creative, social, and experiential marketing arm of the management and marketing agency Excel Sports Management. Game Seven counts companies like Amazon, Meta, Nike, and Spotify as clients.

Favorite project you’ve worked on? Nike’s NYvsNY. It’s a Nike Basketball campaign that happens every summer, featuring the city’s top basketball players competing for bragging rights at the most iconic playgrounds in NYC. It is the perfect blend of grassroots, community, and big brand storytelling. It is hard to capture how special the environment is. It is truly a visceral experience. It happens every summer over the course of eight weeks. The program is also a platform to help launch and market Nike and Jordan Brand signature athletes and products. Over the years, the program has featured Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jayson Tatum, Kyrie Irving, Sabrina Ionescu, and more.

What’s your favorite ad campaign? My inspiration for starting Game Seven was sparked by the golden era of Nike advertising, and there are two spots that really stand out for me. First is Jordan and Mars Blackmon, and the second is Nike Freestyle. If I had to choose one, it would be Mars. Those spots were so different and so unique compared to anything else that was in the marketplace. To me, it helped define an entire industry and genre that we are still witnessing grow today.

What marketing trend are you most optimistic about? Least? I love that brands are really starting to care about building community and connection; those two things will continue to be important to any and all brands. This often requires brands to be very thoughtful and intentional about who they work with and how they work with them. Building these relationships also requires brands to engage with authenticators and creators in unique and interesting ways.

I love stunt marketing, and it certainly has its place, but I don’t love it as an always-on tactic, especially when it skews into the shock-and-awe realm. I feel like more and more brands are trying to Liquid Deathify their marketing. Let’s be clear: It works really well for Liquid Death, and they are incredible at it, but it’s not for everyone.

What’s one marketing-related podcast/social account/series you’d recommend? I am a big fan of the podcast Fearless Creative Leadership by Charles Day. The podcast focuses on the art of creative leadership, so Charles speaks to some of the top leaders across the agency and brand landscape. I am also a fan of Talking to Ourselves by Omid Farhang. It has gone quiet lately but hopefully it ramps back up soon. I can imagine how hard it is to run an agency and a podcast at the same time.

Get marketing news you'll actually want to read

Marketing Brew informs marketing pros of the latest on brand strategy, social media, and ad tech via our weekday newsletter, virtual events, marketing conferences, and digital guides.