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Handler to exit CMO post at MLS, eyes next big challenge

Handler to exit CMO post at MLS, eyes next big challenge

By Terry Lefton, Staff Writer

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MLS Chief Marketing Officer Howard Handler is leaving the league Nov. 1. Handler, who’s been CMO since January 2012, said he has no definitive plans but wants to move on to something more entrepreneurial, and a position where he can head an organization.

“Surely, I’m proud of what we’ve done here, which includes doubling our fan base and having a much bigger commercial side, media rights, increased franchise values, relevance and overall scale, but I’m looking for a bigger leadership role and to challenge myself by running and building a business,” Handler said. “I’m looking to do something where I can build and lead. It’s a transformational time at the intersection of sport, media and technology, and that’s a space I’m looking at hard.”

Handler
MLS Commissioner Don Garber lauded Handler’s overall contributions in growing the league’s digital and social content, and he especially noted the MLS leaguewide rebrand in 2014 for its 20th season.

“I’ve known Howard for more than 20 years and his role in helping the league develop across a wide range of areas, including fan development and our growth in digital and fan development, were very significant achievements,” Garber said. “The time just came when he started thinking about what he wanted to do for the rest of his life — he wanted to take on something new and we were very supportive.”

Gary Stevenson, president and managing director of MLS Business Ventures, said Handler’s CMO position will not be replaced. His marketing responsibilities will be distributed among a group of MLS employees, with David Bruce, the league’s vice president of brand and integrated marketing, assuming Handler’s role as brand steward.

“Howard had a great imprint and impact on our organization and just helped us get to where we are,” Stevenson said.

Handler joined MLS after serving as a consultant to the league. He’s held senior marketing jobs at MSG, Virgin Mobile, the NFL and MTV.


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