Interview: Rams exec Marissa Daly on new branded film

Rams
(Marissa Daly, Courtesy Los Angeles Rams)

This week, the Super Bowl LVI champions, Los Angeles Rams, took sports marketing and entertainment a few extra steps into the future with the launch of their outstandingly entertaining branded short film On the Clock.

Directed by acclaimed director Paul Hunter, the film stars a group of action stars Dennis Quaid (The Day After Tomorrow, Innerspace, Goliath), Josh Holloway (Lost, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol), Scott Eastwood (Suicide Squad, Pacific Rim, The Fate of the Furious), and Tyrese Gibson (Fast and Furious, Transformers franchises).

Members of the Rams including Kendall Blanton, Terrell Burgess, Aaron Donald, Tyler Higbee, Jordan Fuller, Van Jefferson, Cooper Kupp, David Long Jr., Jalen Ramsey, Nick Scott, Ben Skowronek and Matthew Stafford, are also featured.

That’s a lot of testosterone on screen. And of course, behind the scenes is a creative and sports-savvy women-led marketing team calling the shots.

Meet Marissa Daly.

This is Marissa’s fourth season with the Los Angeles Rams. She serves as the VP/GM of Rams’ Studios. Before joining the Rams, Daly served as the senior director of product marketing for Yahoo Sports and led marketing for the Sports and Fantasy properties.

Reel 360 News had a chance to speak with Marissa about the new film, which you can watch below:

Marissa, I must offer you congrats and condolences. Congratulations on winning the Super Bowl and you know where this is going…

Are you going to talk about …?

Even though I didn’t go to ‘Nova (Villanova), I always root for them in the Final Four.

I’m emotionally gutted. My texts were blowing up. I’m obsessed with college basketball. Villanova’s at the top of that peak and every memory I’ve ever had of college basketball has Villanova and Jay Wright in it.

Are you from Philly?

I’m kind of a crazy case of growing up in northern California and somehow ending up in Philly for college. I went to a co-ed catholic high school and I only looked at east coast schools. So, I looked at Villanova and Georgetown. It was quite a culture shock, but I am very happy with my decision.

Onto happier news, I saw On the Clock yesterday and it’s really dope.

That’s great! We’re very pleased and excited to see what kind of reaction it gets.

Take me behind the inspiration for the film.

Last year, we launched the first-ever Rams’ Draft House in Malibu and were the first team to set up a traditional war room outside of practice. The draft itself is a huge NFL tentpole event. It starts the season every year for teams and builds excitement for fans, the front office and the current players. What’s your team going to look like? Who are you going to get?

I think our GM has completely changed that model. It’s not just about the draft. It’s about free agency. It’s about the development of younger players. I’m not going to speak for him, but the way I think that he views the draft as additional poker chips. During a time when there is a lot of attention on teams that have first-round picks, the Rams could largely take a step back and just ignore the draft.

We’re not at the forefront of people’s minds as a team that is establishing themselves. To be a strong player in this market, to be a top sports brand, you can’t just sit back. So, regardless of where our picks sit in the actual draft, we want to make sure the Rams brand is front and center.

Knowing that the lack of first-round picks wasn’t gonna drive much football chatter, we asked ourselves how could we drive the conversation? Not just within sports circles, but also within the culture.

We saw some success from last year with the Rocket Mortgage Draft House and we partnered with Rebel Wilson. We did a crib-style video piece to launch the House for the draft last year. Wally Pfister directed our open video to kick off our games last year. I’m biased, but it was a world-class video.

That was the first time we’ve done production on this kind of scale and saw success. Knowing that this year we were going to do a draft house in the Hollywood Hills and knowing the draft was in Vegas, all the chips came together. So, we asked ourselves what does this year become?

We decided to grab the attention of the draft. We really wanted to partner with PRETTYBIRD/Ventureland to produce a good video that broke through the mold.

So, in other words, the strategy became how do the Rams steal the attention of the draft from other teams.

And to also reinforce the Rams’ brand, not only within NFL circles or just in L. A., but outside of that as well. We wanted to show we’re a progressive organization that’s gonna take big swings and make big bets – whether on the field with certain players and giving away first-round picks and getting what they know is an established player and on the brand side and the business side. We want to do marketing campaigns that other teams don’t do or only an L.A. team can pull off like that.

Do you start thinking about something right after the Draft House or after the Super Bowl?

We started thinking about it as soon as we wrapped up the Draft House last year. We said to ourselves, “this was great.” Now, what about next year? Knowing we were doing it again, it wasn’t just in the back of our minds, we started to actively plan again. So, when most of our team had to focus on the season, we were looking for the script to pull things together.


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Do you think the attitude of “stealing the draft” would exist if you hadn’t won the Super Bowl?

You have to be aware of the performance on the field. Had we not made the playoffs, we knew we were still doing the Draft House. We knew we were still going to make a large production. The themes may have changed. But we were still going to roll big. So, I think the tone of the film may have been different, but the strategy of our organization wasn’t going to change.

You can’t ignore that the Rams did win the Super Bowl. And it was the first year at So-Fi Stadium and the first year for the Super Bowl there. Things just seemed to line up perfectly.

Yeah. Creating a dynasty in football is hard. That’s why there’s only been a few of them in the NFL’s past. To win a Super Bowl things have to align nicely for any team. This year, the story was just so well written. It was ours to mess up.

We had a couple of key injuries early on. We got new players. We lost the month of November. All those things kind of played into the drama of the season.

Talk to me about the cast because you’ve got a great one!

I wrote down something that I think is kind of fascinating. So, this is a three-minute film and there are 24 faces, including the four principals, right? And four and a half shoot days. That’s a lot of people to coordinate. We’re talking wardrobe, hair, and makeup.

I remember sitting with Mike Rosen from Ventureland and he was talking about doing a big commercial shoot with one athlete. We had 12 players. The sheer coordination was pretty amazing as it relates to the actual principals.

Did you consider using Les Snead and Sean McVay?

We did. But when it comes to availability, it’s always very hard in this town. So, we looked for actors who not only resembled them but could pick up their actions. These actors are very talented. They get incredible opportunities all the time. So, who are the people that want to do this? Because it’s not often that teams or brands do something like this. It’s not a full-length movie. But it’s also not an ad for Kleenex.

It’s this interesting mix where you’re not necessarily selling a product like a traditional commercial spot and it’s not a full feature. And so, people are saying, Oh my god! The Rams are doing something with PRETTYBIRD. I want to be a part of this, too!

It all came together nicely and who we could sign on for the project and watching them on set over the course of the day was incredible. Josh Holloway watched film of Les (General Manager Les Snead) and picked up his mannerisms. Les Snead has very recognizable and repeatable mannerisms. Mr. Kroenke (Rams’ owner Stan Kroenke) isn’t in the public as much as some of the other owners are, so it was kind of fun to see how Dennis Quaid put more of a voice to him as well.

We wanted to use the real Sean McVay for a cameo in the film. But I think we always knew we wanted to use actors for a couple of reasons. One, we knew we wanted it to play like a real heist. And asking people who aren’t actors to act becomes very challenging.

And you got Paul Hunter to direct. He is no slouch.

Paul is a phenomenal partner and a wonderful director and we didn’t go with the traditional agency model in the middle, so we really had a ton of exposure with him. You could feel his excitement from day one on the call. He’s a collaborative director. Obviously, we knew when to not get in his way, but he just enjoyed being around.

He’s so good and knowing all the work that he’s done with athletes also brought a lot of peace of mind. Working with an athlete, you want to be respectful of their time and still know how to get the best out of them. He’s so good at that. For him it’s effortless.

Going all the way back to his early Nike work, I’ve always been a fan of Paul.

Oh yeah, yeah. The Paul Rodriguez cameo. And the other cameos. That’s Paul Hunter. He brings so much to a production.

I can see you’re clearly a sports junkie. Take me on the journey from you going from business to being part of the Rams organization.

I grew up with two very successful banker parents and so that was kind of the path that I was put on. My mom put me through college and said you must get a job when you graduate.

You can go anywhere in the country and you want to graduate in four years. You must work every summer so you don’t have to work during the school year and you can focus.

And you must be a finance or accounting major.

No pressure there.

None at all. I decided to go to Villanova and major in finance. I had a fun roommate who basically shepherded me into getting internships and jobs. I knew I needed a job out of undergrad that paid the bills and allowed me to live the life, I wanted to. At some point in 2008 I was working at a hedge fund when the financial crisis happened. I realized that I love working hard and I have a lot of ambition and skills, but this isn’t the industry I wanted to apply them to.

I decided to go to business school and give it a shot and see what it meant to leave finance and go work in sports. I just dove into the deep end.

In 2018, I was lucky enough to join the Rams and have been loving it ever since. Anything I didn’t know about production I’m learning. I love to learn and ask questions.

On the Clock is currently on Rams’ social channels. You can catch a clip tonight leading into the Rams’ first draft pick on the NFL Network.

Shriekfest

Colin Costello is the West Coast Editor of Reel 360. Contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @colinthewriter1


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