5 minutes with Ashlee Huffman

Meet our General Manager, Indianapolis

Describe your career in five words or less.

Just say yes.
 
Congratulations for recently being named as one of Sports Business Journal’s Game Changers for 2018. When you look back on your career, what made you pursue a career in sports marketing and, in particular, in motorsports? 

People intrigue me. I like to observe what makes them tick (or get ticked off), understand generational and cultural differences, and apply those observations to how and why we engage. Taking that interest a step further and meeting people in their passion point of sport can be powerful. As for the motorsports specific interest, growing up in Indiana, I was surrounded by racing and basketball. After working across the globe, I can say that motorsports fans are right at the top of the most passionate sports fans in the world. 
 
Over the years, what has been the highlight of your career? 

Without question, the highlight is working with some of the most talented people in the industry across all backgrounds and skillsets. I’ve seen that regardless of background, views, career path, experience, it’s how we choose to relate to and work with each other to achieve the best outcomes that makes all the difference. Growing and maturing through those moments led me to know that challenging myself, being exposed to diverse thinking, sticking my neck out, and listening to my gut always wins in the end. 
 


It was recently announced that INDYCAR appointed CSM as their exclusive marketing and partnership agency. How will CSM work with INDYCAR moving forward, and what could brands gain from sponsoring in this space? 

This is an interesting one. The motorsports team has worked with INDYCAR for years as a platform for brands to make an impact, including working with the departing title partner, Verizon. We also work directly with the series to bring to life events and experiences. Taking on this challenge took a new perspective, however, which is perfectly aligned with who we are as CSM. With the skilled approach of our properties team to work on behalf of INDYCAR and the knowledge and experience of CSM behind them – specifically in motorsports and where brands can have impact – it’s an exciting opportunity. INDYCAR is going to be an important platform for the right brands. No other property of this scale has the amount of white space as INDYCAR, and given they also host the world’s largest live sporting event, the Indy 500, that opportunity alone is immense. So not only does INDYCAR stand up to other sports properties in terms of number of fans, distribution, and media – we wouldn’t be talking about it if it didn’t – but beyond that, a brand has the opportunity to grow with and shape the sport. Whether it’s technology, fast-moving consumer goods or consumer packaged goods, we have some pretty cool avenues for brands to reach consumers. Brands truly are a partner, not an asset buyer.


 
When not at work, what would we find you doing? 

I don’t have one specific thing that you’ll find me doing. Usually it revolves around making the latest family whim happen: a dirt track race in the Midwest (gotta stay fresh and true to my roots), date night with my husband at our favorite spot, camping to decide if we’re really campers, definitely all outdoor activities. There’s not much I can’t be talked in to or drag my family in to.