MANCHESTER — San Antonio Spurs forward and New Hampshire native Matt Bonner has been nicknamed the Red Mamba by Kobe Bryant and the Red Rocket by fans of the Toronto Raptors when he played for that team in the NBA.
But on Tuesday, the 6-foot, 10-inch redhead known for his three-point shooting, was The Boss at GY&K Marketing in Manchester as he swapped jobs with GY&K President Travis York.
York sits on the board of the Rock on Foundation, founded by the Bonner brothers, Matt and Luke, to support athletic, artistic and scholastic initiatives. Luke, who played professional basketball from 2009 to 2012, now works at GY&K.
With so many connections, York turned to Matt Bonner when looking for the third opportunity in his Exec Exchange series, in which York switches jobs with another executive for a day. So far, York has traded places with a high-tech executive in Manchester and a fashion designer in Boston.
While Bonner sat in on creative sessions and met with prospective clients at Griffin, York & Krause, York was on the basketball court at SNHU, meeting with sports agents and otherwise pursuing a day in the life of an NBA player.
“I think as an outsider looking in you assume the off-season life of an NBA player might not be that challenging,” York said. He found out otherwise. “For a shooter like Matt, there are a lot of shots that need to be taken. My arms were getting tired, along with me getting tired.”
Back at the GY&K office, Bonner was meeting with Creative Director Andrew Harris and Chief Creative Officer Michael Wachs, talking strategy for one of the firm’s newest clients, Sweet Baby Ray’s barbecue sauce.
As the agency executives talked about keeping the brand relevant, the concept hit home for Bonner, who like many professional athletes has a brand of his own to maintain.
“When you’re playing 15 minutes a game, surrounded by these superstars, it’s hard to stay relevant,” he said. “I have to do what I can on the court and off. Brand image and staying relevant are hugely important.”
As talk turned to the client, Bonner soaked up a lot of information, but also had some creative insights of his own to offer.
He’s no stranger to social media, a cornerstone of any marketing campaign these days.
His blog, “Matt Bonner’s Sandwich Hunter: The Quest for the Hoagie Grail,” is featured on the Spurs’ official NBA website.
His taste in music has also been fodder for the Web, so it was no surprise that Bonner’s first reaction to Sweet Baby Ray’s was to enlist Sweet Baby James, although no one could say for sure if James Taylor would be available.
Bonner described his experience promoting new baby carrot snacks from Bolthouse Farms in a YouTube commercial targeted to Texas audiences that’s gone viral. “You can’t have a better endorser for carrots than someone with a carrot top,” he said. At last check, the spot had 33,000 views.
Bonner, who led Concord High School to three NHIAA basketball championships in the 1990s, still calls New Hampshire home and returns here in the offseason to a place in the White Mountains. “I have granite in my bones and maple syrup running through my veins,” he said.
At 33, he said he still hopes to play many more years in the NBA, but the day at GY&K may have opened his eyes to future opportunities. “This is way more fun than I thought it would be,” he said.