Ideas & Insights

MGO Managing Director Attends Harvard Business School Executive Program

MGO Managing Director Attends Harvard Business School Executive Program
Antony Gordon Shares his insights in a special edition Insight post

Antony Gordon, Managing Director at MGO had the opportunity to attend the prestigious Harvard Business School (“HBS”) for a special session of their Executive Program of The Business of Entertainment, Media and Sports. We asked him to give us his thoughts on the program, but in terms of valuable tools they used and content. He also provided insight into the future usages of the course and mentions several of the higher profile talent that were part of the session. Here is Antony’s blog created from his time at Harvard!

There is arguably only one Business School in the world that could attract Grammy-winning singer Ciara Wilson, stars of HGTV series “Fixer Upper” Chip and Joanna Gaines, “NCIS: Los Angeles” actor Eric Christian Olsen, Cleveland Cavaliers power forward and NBA All-Star Kevin Love, Los Angeles Clippers small forward and Cameroonian prince Luc Mbah a Moute, New Orleans Pelicans power forward Julius Randle, former Bayern Munich goalkeeper and 2002 World Cup Golden Ball winner Oliver Kahn and former Everton midfielder Tim Cahill to spend four intense days in a classroom – and that is Harvard Business School (“HBS”).

This past week I had the distinct honor and privilege of representing MGO at Harvard Business School’s elite Business of Entertainment, Media and Sports (“BEMS”) Executive Course on HBS’s famous campus.

Each day was spent discussing one of the famous HBS case studies mostly penned by the head of the Entertainment, Media and Sports Department at HBS, Professor Anita Elberse (pictured next to Antony Gordon).

Day # 1:

A case study focusing on the Launching of Jay Z’s Decoded. The Case study revolved around David Droga and Andrew Essex, co-founders of advertising agency Droga5 and the unique campaign they developed in the form of a partnership between Jay Z and Microsoft Bing to launch Jay Z’s lyrical memoir, Decoded. The thrust of this discussion was the importance of pushing the envelope in creative marketing campaigns in the entertainment and media industries and how to marry talent and digital media.

Day # 2:
  • The Walt Disney Studios – We focused specifically on Disney’s “Tentpole Strategy” whereby the studio takes 7-8 huge bets every year on big budget movie releases.
  • Futbol Club Barcelona – The focus in this case study was key trends in the business of European football and the internal struggle at Barcelona FC whether to continue to invest in La Masia (Barcelona’s Youth Academy) Vs acquiring megastars, the model followed by Real Madrid.
  • LeBron James – We focused on the making of a billionaire dollar brand through the launch of LRMR which leverages LeBron’s name through equity positions in a broad range of companies as opposed to the outmoded straight sponsorship/endorsement model.
Day # 3:
  • The Metropolitan Opera – Here we looked at the initiative launched by Peter Gelb, the General Manager of the NYC Metropolitan Opera House, to expand the audience of opera viewers and to scale the Mets model by broadcasting performances live in high-definition to movie theaters across North America.
  • Facebook – This case study provided an opportunity to appreciate the paradigm shift brought about by digital marketing and the power of data mining;
  • Buzzfeed – We looked at the power of Native Advertising and the research done on increasing the chances of content ‘going viral’.
  • MRC’s House of Cards – This sessions was utilized mainly to discuss the major trends in the TV business and the position Netflix is seeking to carve out for itself in the television business.
Day # 4:

A case study on Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. More specifically, we looked at the business model related to launching a digital channel.

The final session of the BEMS Course before wrapping up and the mini HBS Graduation Ceremony, was an interactive discussion lead by Professor Anita Elberse on The Future of Entertainment. The level of detail and the granularity of research that we discussed was mind boggling. The main points of which can be summarized as follows:

(i). Success in the Business of Entertainment, Media and Sports can only be reached by taking big bets. All the research indicates that attempts to mitigate risk at the cost of creativity does not work in these industries;
(ii). The power of megastars is what will drive these industries for the foreseeable future and is only becoming more profound;
(iii). Blockbusters success in these industries is not for the faint of heart. Binary big bets is the formula for huge success in these industries.

I feel privileged to be amongst a tiny fraction of people in the world that have had the opportunity to study at some of the most renown educational institutions in the world, including Oxford University and Harvard Law School. Having said that, everything pales in comparison to the experience at Harvard Business School last week. The course was life changing – both in terms of the scope of the content shared and the level of relationships that I developed in these industries throughout the world.

My take home goals in the near future on behalf of the firm are as follows:

To take the main points learned by some of the greatest minds and leaders in these industries and ensure that MGO is embracing some of these concepts to ensure that we remain ahead of the competition and have the intestinal fortitude to take the business risks that are absolutely required to achieve success in these industries through internal articles, a proposed presentation at our annual Partners Retreat on the material we covered and to earmark time to have a ‘Mini White Board Session’ with Kevin O Connell so make sure that the firms forward-looking strategy is in synch with the trends that were prognosticated at Harvard Business School. To that end, my focus over the next few weeks is to parlay the wealth of information and the robust relationships cultivated from the classroom to the firm.

I have to thank MGO for ensuring I was able to participate in a life changing experience that should be accretive to the firm’s bottom line in the years ahead.




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