After more than two decades steering media buys in sports and other mass-appeal arenas for a beer giant, Tony Ponturo continues to take his act to Broadway.
His theatrical tilt will now include a co-producer's role on a stage version of the life story of legendary NFL coach Vince Lombardi.
Ponturo is a co-producer of the recently opened "Memphis" (about rock 'n' roll in the 1950s), and had a role in the revival of "Hair." He is also backing a London musical.
"Hair" won a Tony for Best Revival and was produced by Fran Kirmser, who is partnering with Ponturo on "Lombardi," scheduled for a fall 2010 release.
Ponturo had a 26-year career in marketing at Anheuser-Busch before his departure last year after InBev bought the company. He left A-B as vice president of global media and sports marketing, and then launched an eponymous multifaceted company that consults in the sports world and makes investments.
"Lombardi" will be based on a biography of the former Super Bowl-winning coach by Washington Post writer David Maraniss. The coach, whose name adorns the Super Bowl trophy, had such popularity that Richard Nixon reportedly considered him as a vice presidential running mate.
Lombardi is also linked with the maxim "Winning isn't everything; it's the only thing." Many think he coined this phrase -- although that is disputed, but it no doubt served as a locker-room motivational tool.
Ponturo states that the show looks "to entertain those who love the classic tale of triumph by a very diverse and sometimes misunderstood soul, while also bringing in those who enjoy sports but never thought that such drama could be played out on the stage."
In marketing, Ponturo was synonymous with helping turn the Super Bowl into the advertising machine it is today, with spots becoming part of the zeitgeist and resonating for months after the game. A-B annually purchases about 5 minutes in the broadcast.
In the early 1990s, the executive brought A-B's media buying in-house -- a sign that he believed its spending muscle and influence with the networks was flush enough that it didn't need to partner with, or pay, a large Madison Avenue firm.