Ex-Gucci Maven Kalvaria Pivots to CMO Role at Fanatics Betting & Gaming

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In a surprising career pivot, Selena Kalvaria has packed away the glitz of the global fashion runway to step on the more rugged turf of sports betting. Crowning a three-year tenure at the trend-setting Italian fashion house Gucci, Kalvaria has ascended to the role of chief marketing officer (CMO) at Fanatics Betting & Gaming.

The journey of the ex-Gucci maven from haute couture to high-stakes betting was first aired by the Wall Street Journal. A glance at her corporate trajectory observes Kalvaria’s most recent stint as the senior vice president of brand and client engagement for Gucci’s significant Americas business. A perusal of her LinkedIn profile reveals that she joined the betting arm of Fanatics just a month back, yet it is curiously empty of any previous gaming experience. A deep dive into her past unfolds with her embarking on her professional voyage in 2008, becoming an associate at Credit Suisse within the bank’s international equities trading department.

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Kalvaria’s career pivot comes at an intriguing juncture when Fanatics is just breaking ground into the expansive US iGaming and sports wagering sphere. Pegged at a substantial $31 billion in private markets during the last year, Fanatics, a renowned authority in sports apparel and merchandising, is a fresh face in the online betting circle. Although the company possesses considerable financial capacity and a robust brand reputation blanketed under its catchy “officially licensed everything” motto, it’s straining to secure a substantial market portion in states offering betting.

The challenge, however, isn’t unique to Fanatics alone, as their competitors, too, jostle to unsettle the established duopoly of DraftKings and FanDuel within the US online sports wagering domain. Nevertheless, any individual standing at Kalvaria’s new vantage point has a monumental task in their hands.

There is an unexpected parity between Kalvaria’s arrival at Fanatics and the notable increase in sports wagers placed by women. It’s then hardly surprising that sportsbook operators’ long-standing negligence of women is undergoing a much-needed shift. This transformation is fueled by the escalating popularity of women’s sports, such as the WNBA and college athletics. Given Fanatics’ standing as an apparel company offering dedicated lines for women, the brand is already a recognized name among female sports enthusiasts.

Kalvaria acknowledged the considerable overlap between female athletes, sports, and fashion during an interview with Katie Deighton of the Journal. Yet, the impact of a female executive on enhancing the appeal of the brand among women bettors is still a matter of speculation.

A seismic challenge that lies in wait for Kalvaria entails steering Fanatics through a time when online betting companies are overshadowed by the rising taxes in several states. The prevalent strategy for cushioning this blow to revenue aims at scaling down marketing and promotional expenditure, implying that Kalvaria, Fanatics’ new CMO, would need to think outside of the box to draw in new clients.

Moreover, she would need to acclimate to the distinct client demands and demographics at Fanatics Betting & Gaming, a sharp contrast from what she encountered at Gucci.

Standing out from the crowd in the high-end fashion world rests on creating cutting-edge and distinctive accessories and clothing to foster brand loyalty. But the world of sports betting orbits more around technology, and an operator’s ability to be unique in that regard. If she manages to make her mark in this arena, then Fanatics just might be prepared to go toe-to-toe with DraftKings and FanDuel in the long run.