Seth Odell

By Rick Griffin

Seth Odell, who served as vice chancellor of marketing for the National University System since 2017, has left the San Diego-based, nonprofit university to open his own education marketing consulting agency with the unique name of Kanahoma.

“For 100 years, our family owned a quaint cottage on the south shore of Canandaigua Lake, in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York, near Rochester. The cabin was called Kanahoma because our relatives moved to New York from areas of Kansas and Oklahoma,” Odell told Times of San Diego. “Growing up, I had many wonderful times at that cabin on the lake. But, our family sold it last year when my grandmother passed. I decided to name my consulting firm in honor of that lake house.”

Odell, who left NU in early November, oversaw marketing for National University and several NU affiliates, including City University of Seattle, John. F. Kennedy University in Pleasant Hill, Calif. and Northcentral University, an online institution based in San Diego. He also supported other NU initiatives including an online high school, a workforce education program, a group of charter schools and several nonprofits funded by philanthropist T. Denny Sanford’s $350 million gift in 2019.

“I’ve worked in higher education for 15 years, primary in in-house positions, so I’ve always wanted to take the leap and start my own firm,” Odell said. “I know it’s a crazy time in the world, but challenges bring change and I feel it’s the right time to try this.”

Prior to joining NU, he spent two years with Helix Education, an education technology and marketing company based in Salt Lake City, four years at Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester, NH, and four years at UCLA. At UCLA, he was part of marketing efforts in the early days of social media. At New Hampshire, he helped grow the institution from 7,000 to 70,000 students in four years.

He also has worked in television news at WTEN-TV in Albany, NY. After leaving UCLA in 2010, he founded an online TV network called “Higher Ed Live,” which still exists today. He sold the network in 2012.

“I’ve had a lot of jobs in my life,” Odell said. “I’ve worked as a clubhouse manager for a minor league baseball team, managed a deli in Yellowstone National Park, worked the graveyard shift at a donut shop and even redid Dr. Phil’s kitchen. Now, I’m excited to continue my career in higher education with Kanahoma and see where it goes.”

Oster and Associates Adds Medical Cannabis Client

Bev Oster Ornales

Oster and Associates, a San Diego branding agency focusing on cannabis brands, has been named the agency of record for San Diego-based Holistic Caring, a delivery company for products to medical cannabis patients. Oster’s new client also educates about cannabidiol medicine and provides cannabis health coaching certification.

Oster said it will provide marketing efforts to build brand awareness, including strategy, website updates, SEO, email marketing, sales collateral and public relations services.

“We are very excited to be working with a leading national holistic health expert like Elisabeth Mack and her talented team that she’s assembled at Holistic Caring,” said Bev Oster Ornelas, president of Oster and Associates. “Our company cultures match up very well and we look forward to expanding their health and wellness influence across America.”

Health Care Communicators Seeking Award Entries

The Health Care Communicators of Southern California, a professional networking group, is seeking nominations for its 2020 Finest Awards. Entry deadline is Friday, Dec. 18.

Work completed between April 30, 2019, and Nov. 1, 2020, is eligible. Cost to enter is $75 per entry for members, $100 per entry for nonmembers. Awards will be presented in March 2021 in such categories as advertising, PR, writing, collateral, video, special events, digital marketing and analytics.

Work must have been created either by, or on behalf of, a health care organization in Southern California. Agencies in San Diego County may submit work for out-of-town health care clients, and out-of-town agencies may submit work for Southern California health care industry projects. Entries will be judged by members of the New England Society of Healthcare Communications.

In addition, the professional group is seeking nominations for its Communicator of the Year award. The award recognizes an outstanding and successful local health care professional. Nominations are open to all professionals at any level, working in a marketing-communications capacity in health care or other health-related field in San Diego and Imperial counties, including professionals from public relations, marketing, advertising, health care or media professions. Judges will include former winners. There is no cost to nominate a person.

Members of the organization include communications professionals who work in the health care, wellness, biotech, medical device, health information technology and pharmaceutical industries in San Diego, Los Angeles and Orange counties, as well as the Inland Empire.

Fox Sports’ Name Change to Bally’s Sports Presages Future Gambling

Get ready to hear the TV announcers to say, “You’re watching Padres baseball on…Bally’s Sports San Diego.”

Since 2011, when the Padres switched its TV rights from Cox Communications to Fox Sports, the Padres’ MLB games have aired on Fox Sports San Diego, a regional sports network. In 2019, media conglomerate Sinclair Broadcast Group purchased 21 of the regional networks for $9.6 billion but retained the Fox name.

Now, casino operator Bally’s Corp. has entered into a 10-year, $85 million naming rights agreement that will rebrand Sinclair’s networks under the Bally’s Sports name.

The deal, expected to take effect in 2021, is seen as a significant step towards integrating gambling content to fill airtime during games and give fans the chance to bet on sports events as they watch them.

A press statement said Bally’s Corp., which currently owns 10 casinos in six states, will integrate content into the 190 TV stations owned by Sinclair in 88 markets, including its regional sports networks.

“This arrangement represents an opportunity to revolutionize the U.S. sports betting, gaming and media industries,” said Soo Kim, chairman of Bally’s Corp.’s board of directors, in a statement.

Chris Ripley, president and CEO of Sinclair, said, “Bally’s, with its strong brand name, premier sportsbook technology platform and expansive market access, is the perfect partner to help us change the paradigm of sports viewing across all our assets. By integrating gamification elements that allow audiences a more personalized and interactive game experience, consumers of live sports in the future can look forward to a more dynamic and engaging sports viewing experience.”

The deal also gives Sinclair the opportunity to become one of Bally’s largest shareholders with the purchase up to 29.9 percent of its common stock, pending regulatory approval.

Sports wagering is legal in 25 states, although California currently is not one of them. By some Wall Street estimates, sports betting in the U.S. will become a $50 billion market by 2025.

Professional sports leagues have long anticipated another revenue stream from sports gambling. The loss of seat sales due to COVID-19 restrictions has only intensified the anticipation.

Rick Griffin

Rick Griffin is a San Diego-based public relations and marketing consultant. His MarketInk column appears weekly on Mondays in Times of San Diego.

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