Yale Athletics

The 2020-21 Georgia Tech women’s basketball team made it all the way to the Sweet Sixteen in a March Madness tournament marked by COVID-19 tests, masks and isolation from the outside world. Former Georgia Tech Creative Director and New Yale Athletics hire Brad Ahern stayed with the team throughout the entire tournament, taking care to capture every moment of their story through video and other multimedia content.

Ahern was named the athletic department’s new director of creative services & digital strategy in mid-August. The position was left vacant after its first occupant, Nina Lindberg, moved on from Yale Athletics to Buffalo, New York-based Pegula Sports & Entertainment. Former Assistant Director of Creative Services Geoff Bell also left the department this summer and is now the director of creative services at Rice University.

These two departures left Yale Athletics in need of personnel that could continue to build Yale’s athletic brand and produce multimedia content, leading to Ahern’s arrival last month.

“I want to prioritize building relationships with the coaches and the staffs,” Ahern said on a phone call with the News. “I’ve only been … [working with Yale Athletics] for a few weeks now, but I’m slowly meeting people, meeting with the coaching staff[s] and just trying to figure out what they need.”

According to Associate Athletic Director Mike Gambardella, who oversees the strategic communications and creative services departments within Yale Athletics, Ahern is an “excellent fit” to help continue the growth of Yale’s athletic brand. Though Ahern has been with the Bulldogs for just a few weeks, Gambardella noted that “his work is already evident as well as impactful on social media accounts, [the Yale Athletics] website and facility video boards.”

Ahern is stepping into a department that has made serious changes to its content production and branding in the last few years. After adding Lindberg and Bell to the department over a six-month span back in 2019, Yale Athletics took steps to reinvigorate its brand, grow its social media following and produce more consistent, uniform content. Led by Director of Athletics Vicky Chun, Lindberg and Bell carried out the shift in branding.

“With Nina, it was all about creating content that was unique and stylish, but not far from the brand Yale already held,” Bell said.

Ahern was quick to praise the progress that Lindberg and her team made throughout their time with Yale Athletics. For Ahern, Yale’s athletic brand was one he admired for quite some time. Before joining Yale, and particularly when he was working for the Harvard athletic department from July 2017 to May 2018, Ahern always kept a close eye on the content Yale was producing.

“Seeing this opportunity to come build on that was awesome,” Ahern said.

Ahern’s experience with social content and video started before his time at Georgia Tech. While attending Villanova, he did similar work related to video production and content creation for Villanova’s athletic teams. After earning his bachelor’s degree in 2017, he worked as an intern at Harvard Athletics for 10 months before moving to Temple for his first full-time job.

Upon joining Georgia Tech’s Brand and Ideation Division in August of 2019, Ahern produced high-quality multimedia content for a number of Georgia Tech programs, including the Yellow Jackets’ football, baseball and men’s and women’s basketball teams. Ahern’s efforts attracted new recruits, celebrated successful Georgia Tech programs and expanded the Georgia Tech brand as a whole, the Yellow Jackets’ Assistant Director for Communications and PR Andrew Clausen said.

“It’s a big loss for us,” Clausen said of Ahern’s move from Atlanta to New Haven. “It’s a big loss to lose somebody who’s invested in a program and invested in teams and has formed relationships. He’s a very relationship-driven person. He’s in it for all the right reasons … he’s in it to tell stories of teams and their student-athletes.”

While at Georgia Tech, whether it was with the women’s basketball team during March Madness or with the football team as they battled it out with their ACC rivals, Clausen said Ahern was all about building relationships with teams and telling their stories.

Moving forward, Ahern said he will continue to prioritize building up and maintaining a strong Yale brand through the creation of graphics, motion graphics, videos and other forms of multimedia content. A strong brand and digital presence is paramount for Yale Athletics, especially when it comes to recruiting, Ahern added.

“The demographic of recruits right now — teenage prospective student-athletes — are as in touch with social media as anyone is,” Ahern explained. “Having that strong brand, having that strong online presence, I think, is a way to directly reach out and make a strong impression.”

In the few weeks that Ahern has been with Yale Athletics, Gambardella said, he has already produced a great deal of content to help grow the Yale brand, including hype videos for social media and different Yale athletic venues. He has also led multiple photo and video shoots to highlight Yale’s fall sports.

While Ahern’s main responsibilities at Georgia Tech centered around video, his role at Yale focuses on creative content across the board.

Yale is currently in the process of filling its assistant director of creative services position previously held by Bell.