Christine Monjer's cool job: Las Vegas Aces head of marketing
Christine Monjer loves to point out the subtle intricacies in the Las Vegas Aces logo.
It's shaped like a diamond, as if it were in a deck of cards in the premier city for blackjack and poker. The colors are contemporary: black, red and gold. In the middle fits the word "Aces" in big, white letters. On top, there's a silhouette of an A, and the crossbar itself is a diamond. Beneath the text is an LV to further stylize the diamond.
"I believe details matter," said Monjer, the team's head of marketing.
The joke around the office is that she's the "brand police," mostly because of her passion for the job. She's a transplant to Las Vegas. She grew up in Miami, went to Cornell for her MBA and worked in Chicago for Quaker Oats and on projects with Major League Soccer's Chicago Fire.
For the past year and a half, she has worked as the executive director of marketing for MGM Resorts International, a role that has her oversee touring shows, residency shows and special events, an umbrella that includes the Aces. When the San Antonio Stars announced the move to Las Vegas, Monjer was excited that she'd be able to work within sports again.
She has learned a lot from the Vegas Golden Knights' success in the NHL in their first season as a franchise, and she is looking forward to the Aces' home opener on May 27 at Mandalay Bay Events Center.
First, she is focused on Thursday's WNBA draft, where the Aces will not only have the No. 1 pick but might also publicly unveil their jerseys for the first time. The team hasn't revealed its court design yet, either, and for as much time as she has spent observing coach Bill Laimbeer's note-filled whiteboard, Monjer doesn't know which player the team will select.
Whoever it is, Monjer believes she will be an Ace in more ways than one. That's because Monjer is fast to point out that an ace is more than a card or a team name.
"An ace is a person who is at the top of their game," she said. "They are excellent, they are confident, they are assertive and strong and inspiring. ... That's what we're all about. You're going to be the best that you can be, and we're going to celebrate that."
With an office that features a stack of leadership books, the Aces' entire marketing campaign and a Kanye West sign from his St. Pablo Tour stop at T-Mobile Arena, Monjer discusses what it's like to market a team in a city that, just last year, didn't have any major league sports franchise. Here is her story, in her words:
A fresh start
It's incredibly exciting to have a team in a new city with a legendary head coach and to have the ability to have the No. 1 draft pick who will round out what Coach is hoping strategically to pull together for his starting five. And to see a new player come into our market and to take on this next step of her career, I feel like we could not be more fortunate. There's all this positive momentum. It's been fun to think about who it could be.
It's also fun to learn how Coach thinks and to see him sitting in his office and he's strategizing and how he's viewing the upcoming draft and the need to get a peek into the basketball operations side because we're so focused on the biz-ops, that to be able to see how the basketball team is also coming together at the same time has been incredibly rewarding. It's not often you get to work on something like this from the ground up.
An ace is a person who is at the top of their game. ... That's what we're all about.Christine Monjer
Growing the game
It is not lost on me when we are talking to players out there or when we're watching the Women's Final Four and these exciting games, you are watching world-class athletes perform at the top of their game. Not everyone has been exposed to women's basketball, so bringing that to the community is super exciting. Really, just the passion in the actual game, it just feels different when you're watching them. It's precision, it's structure, it's excellence. I think bringing that pro level out here, we're expanding women's basketball and what it represents to a community.
A personal connection
The joy and the privilege of getting to know Moriah Jefferson while she's been in market, and she's been incredible. To know that these world-class athletes who are playing at the top of their game are accessible to fans -- and they do care about your story -- I think that emotional and human connection that you can have with the WNBA players is a little bit different than some of the male leagues.
One of my favorite moments thus far on this Aces journey to the home opener was at our season-ticket conversion event, I was standing there with Moriah and Kayla [McBride], and a dad walked up with his two little girls. They were so starstruck by the players, and they were grinning, biting their teeth and their nails. They didn't know what to do. And they gave them these hugs, and it was pure joy in their faces. To see these young girls have a role model that they can look up to on and off the court was very fulfilling.
As it's happening, and you're watching it unfold, and it's like that movie moment. They are so excited, and you know that moment has, in some way, changed that young person's life. I'm in my 30s, and I see these young girls that are probably younger than 10, and I'm just like, "Wow, you just watched a pivotal moment in their life." You almost can't describe the feeling.
Details, details, details
I try to teach that and preach that to the team. All these little things that we're doing, these choices in the moment might feel small when those fans walk into the venue and experience the Aces for the first time, that's how they're going to know they're at an Aces game. It's a series of all these subtle hints and subtle hues that we're going to be messaging out there. Once it comes to life for them, it's going to be that moment where they're like, "Oh, yeah, that's so Aces."
Launching the logo
I saw every iteration of the logo, and the day that it was revealed, you just kind of sit and wait and hope everyone loved it. That same night we all went online and read literally pages upon pages of message boards dedicated to logo design in sports, and people loved it. That was probably one of the most rewarding things I think in my career thus far. To know that you put something out there that fans can get behind and be proud of is really fulfilling.
At the end of the day, MGM Resort is an entertainment company, but a lot of our business is gaming. We knew with Aces, we knew we could tap into that. It's almost like a nod to the heritage of the city.
Is she an Ace?
I'd like to think so. I would definitely say that personally I hold myself to a really high standard of excellence, and I always try to perform at the top of my game. ... I feel that if I show up every day and I'm bringing 100 percent, at least I'm leading by example. I'm all-in the way our team is going to be all-in, and my expectation is those around me are too.
Winning in Vegas
You see the teamwork happening on the court and you see their success, and it translates into the business operations side. You have to work together and collaborate. A win on the business side is still a win. We're constantly high-fiving here in the office. I think it was the realization that there are so many small things that go into this larger event, and then that celebration that you feel at the end of the event, win or lose, you're still putting on an amazing event for fans, and you get to be part of something bigger than my little office here that I sit at every day.