Mike Grahl Named a Twin Cities Business 2024 Notable CMO

Grahl’s strategic leadership helped lead to increased brand loyalty, a growing fan base and record-setting ticket sales and retail performance for the organization

MINNEAPOLIS and ST. PAUL – Twin Cities Business today announced Mike Grahl, Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx Chief Marketing Officer has been named a 2024 “TCB Notable CMO.” Grahl, who has been with the organization since 2018, is being recognized for his transformational leadership focused on increasing brand loyalty, growing a more diverse fan base, and record-setting growth across multiple business metrics.

“I’m humbled by this honor, as it is truly the incredibly talented team I am so fortunate to be surrounded by who drives our business success,” said Grahl. “I am grateful for our leadership team who charter clear paths forward together and for my marketing team who inspires and motivates me every day.”

“I am thrilled for Mike to receive this well-deserved recognition. His contributions have been a driving force behind the resurgence of our brand,” said Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx CEO Ethan Casson. “He is the ultimate servant leader, lifting-up all who work with him – not just within our organization, but across the league, in the community, and beyond.”

Under Grahl’s direction, the marketing department has implemented countless innovative and dynamic campaigns, resulting in national and international brand exposure and recognition. Grahl’s creativity was behind the wildly successful contract extension campaign for Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards, taking over Minneapolis and Las Vegas during NBA Summer League 2023. Grahl and his team were responsible for the popular Timberwolves 2023-2024 Nike City Edition campaign, embracing Minnesota lake life and a jersey unveil with rapper Yung Gravy at Lord Fletcher’s on Lake Minnetonka. An immediate fan favorite, the Timberwolves 2023-24 “’89 to Infinity” 35th Anniversary campaign featuring the team’s original white uniform in Classic Edition form was also a result of Grahl’s strategic vision, featuring unique fan giveaways and promotions, retail collections, multichannel content, and a custom “Classic” court in Target Center.

Grahl was instrumental in signing new retail partner, Fanatics, recognizing new ways to reach fans through a more expansive platform, and brick and mortar presence in Target Center. This partnership, along with high demand for 35th Anniversary Classic Edition and Lake Life City Edition collections and creative collaborations with Lamb Chops, UNRL and many others resulted in incredible retail growth at a 270% YOY increase, and significant in-arena and e-commerce sales growth.

Grahl’s marketing team helped drive record attendance this season, selling out all 41 regular season home games. The team’s performance marketing focus in 2023-24 led to the build and implementation of a dynamic budget model alongside agency partner Ovative Group that propelled a 249% increase in paid media revenue. Additionally, the team ranked in the top five in the NBA across paid media performance, social media performance, NBA website traffic, and in app users.

Under Grahl’s leadership, the marketing department has received numerous accolades, including a combined five Silver and Bronze AdFed awards, a Silver CLIO, and Hashtag Sports awards (Prince-inspired City Edition), Upper Midwest Regional Emmy for Lindsay Whalen’s jersey retirement, and NBA Digital Innovator Award. Most notably, the organization was recently named a 2024 finalist for Sports Team of the Year by Sports Business Journal, the highest honor in professional sports, recognizing best in class organizations demonstrating excellence, leadership, and innovation. The Wolves were also named #11 of the Top 25 Most Innovative Teams in the World (2022) by Sports Innovation Lab/4th across all U.S. professional sports teams.

As CMO, Grahl oversees Brand Marketing, Creative, Advertising, Content, Digital Products and Innovation, Retail, Video Production and Live Programming and Events for the Timberwolves, Lynx and T-Wolves Gaming.

TCB’s Notable CMOs, profile chief marketing officers who shape the brand messaging of their respective companies and institutions in Minnesota to stand out across various channels. For the full list of 2024 TCB Notable CMO honorees visit www.tcbmag.com/notablehonoree.