The Sport Business Summit New York by Leaders, day one round-up


Reports from the panels at day one of the Leaders Sport Business Summit New York 2016.


In the spotlight with Sean McManus: Taking CBS into the next era of sports

“It was the highest revenue our channel has ever generated in one day.”

Sean McManus, president of CBS Sports, kicked off Leaders New York 2016 speaking about the channel’s success with Super Bowl 50 and the numbers behind it. CBS sold around 65 advertising spots during Super Bowl 50 on its main linear channel at an average price of $5m, with a new focus for 2016 on selling brands into ad packages for the pre-game and halftime shows.

Comparatively, McManus said ad revenue for its digital stream of SB50 was around $10m to $15m, which underlined the major challenge facing broadcasters in the digital space: monetisation. But he did point to the upcoming NCAA basketball tournament as an example of content that does and will continue to work well on digital, because of the number of games and basketball’s young audience.

Moving forwards, McManus sees virtual reality as the next big jump for sports broadcast coverage and said it could have as big an impact as high-definition on sports broadcasting.


Priceless passions: From storytelling to story-making

Raja Rajamannar, chief marketing officer of MasterCard, spoke about the brand’s Priceless Moments marketing programme and its focus on “nine passion points”, with sport at the summit of those along with music and entertainment. MasterCard uses over 70,000 assets in 110 countries to activate and promote its sponsorships and provide experiences for its 1.7bn customers.

Rajamannar pointed to an oft-invoked problem as his biggest current challenge: translating marketing achievements and milestones for the executive board and chief financial officer. “Clicks, conversions and views are great for us but the CEO and CFO couldn’t care less,” he said. “Every day we need to prove that every single dollar we spend drives business.”


Olympic marketing: Myths, magic and the future

Marketers for BMW, Bridgestone and P&G, along with Lisa Baird, chief marketing officer of the US Olympic Committee, looked ahead to their programmes for the Rio and Tokyo Olympics, and back at lessons learned from previous games.

Janet Fletcher, brand director, Olympics and sports marketing, P&G, revealed that its famous “Thank you, Mom” activation programme was created by its marketing agency in just 10 days. It has now moved from using 18 brands across 16 US athletes to pushing all of P&G’s brands under an IOC partnership. “The Olympics is a business-building platform for our brands,” she said. She pointed to paper towel brand Bounty’s marketing platforms having 11 times higher cut-through when using Olympic messaging.

Phil Pasci, VP consumer marketing for Bridgestone North America, said its IOC work provided a truly global platform for the brand to bring a unified message to its consumers. Bridgestone operates in 150 of the 204 participating nations. Bridgestone will look to use Rio as a learning platform for Tokyo 2020, held in the city and country of the brand’s headquarters. “Tokyo 2020 is a huge deal for us and it is key for us to lay the groundwork over the next two Games,” he said.

Trudy Hardy, VP of marketing for BMW North America, spoke of making an “authentic contribution” to the USOC. At Sochi 2014, the brand did this by working with the bobsleigh team to create its two-man bobsleigh. The team went on to win three gold medals and BMW will now work with the Paralympic track and field teams in 2016 to create competition wheelchairs. “It will be hard to beat the announcers calling our equipment the ‘Ultimate sliding machine’ [in Sochi] but we are excited about bringing more attention to the Paralympics,” Hardy said.

Baird spoke about the increasing importance of documentary film as an activation tool for the USOC’s sponsors. “It shows the importance of sponsor investment to a team. People want stories and sponsors want authenticity so it works well on both sides,” she said.


Beyond marketing: A holistic approach to building and measuring a strategy in global sport

Brett O’Brien, general manger, Gatorade, spoke of how the brand wants to move from its position as an on-field aid to a 24/7 aid for athletes, as well as an aid for consumers before work, before school and throughout the day.

While the brand has important relationships with major leagues, O’Brien said its athlete endorsement programme was key to channelling that message. Criteria for a Gatorade athlete? “They have to have genuine interest in the product and what we do,” he said.

Energising people and staff through a showcase of product quality is an important consideration for Dow Chemical Company, Louis Vega, chief of staff, VP Olympic and sports solutions for Dow, said.

“It’s a huge driver of employee engagement,” he said. “When a Dow employee speaks to a Nascar driver or pit crew and hears them bragging about using Dow products, that is such strong engagement for us,” he said.


Changing times: Sky Sports, the Premier League and the UK sports market

“We want to be number one and the Premier League is number one. We hope our partnership continues.”

Barney Francis, managing director of Sky Sports, was clear on how important its top content is. Francis followed McManus in enthusing about VR and said he had spoken to a number of companies in that space and challenged them to “put him on Cristiano Ronaldo’s shoulder”.

“They see everything as a challenge and that’s what’s so exciting about the prospect,” he said.

Francis also said he “would love to see an NFL franchise in London”, that Sky is looking at covering esports, and that sports betting would always overshadow daily fantasy sports in the UK.


Inside the EPL: Competing for fans, sponsors and titles

Ninety-two per cent of Premier League fans would label Everton a “well-run club” and 68 per cent believe it “listens to its supporters”.

Both were key pillars of chief executive Robert Elstone’s presentation on the club’s work to create a sustainable business model that works to include fans. “Everything we do is to fund success,” he said. “Winning is the sole way to make fans proud.”

Looking forward, he pointed to retail as the next big challenge for PL clubs calling the current operation “slow, clunky and difficulty to use”. He also called on clubs to improve the quality of sponsors they associate with in an effort to improve the league’s brand, calling out shirt sponsorship agreements with TLCBet (West Brom), GWFX (Swansea) and Wonga (Newcastle).


Taking ownership: Ambitions, plans and agendas for growth

The Minnesota Vikings new 73,000-seater US Bank Stadium will host Super Bowl 52 in 2018 but team owner Mark Wilf is keen to supplement that global interest with benefits for the community. “This is a great chance for Minnesota businesses as a showcase,” he said. “We went out to San Francisco to learn how they have been part of the organising committee there and we can’t wait to bring those lessons to our state.”

The Vikings visited London for the International Series in 2014 and Wilf believes, as Sky’s Barney Francis does, that there is potential for a franchise. “The biggest opportunities for the league are outside of the US. Growth will be international,” he said.

Technology and tradition: Keeping two of sport’s most unique organizations at the front of the grid

VR and millennial engagement was at the forefront of a panel that featured Begoña Sanz, EVP and deputy managing director of Real Madrid, and Claire Williams, deputy team principal of Williams F1.

Sanz said Real has focused on its app, that presents fans with a different experience in and out of stadium. “Fans want more and it is up to the club to be innovative and to provide a greater quality of experience for them,” Sanz said.

Williams admitted there was concern about falling viewer numbers and engaging a new generation of fans. “A kid can go outside and kick a football around the garden but can’t go and sit in Formula One car,” she said. “There is so much choice and Formula One is in the process of trying to answer the question of: how do you bring them [to us]?” she said.


Telling great stories: Where sports and entertainment meet marketing and creativity

David Droga, founder of Droga5, and Mark Shapiro, chief content officer of WME|IMG, finished the day with a look at marketing in sports and entertainment, and by tying together some the day’s themes.

Droga pointed to his agency’s work with Under Armour as indicative of a new direction without rate cards and focused on authenticity. “You now have to earn the right to have people’s attention and your marketing has to match that,” he said before rolling an ad Under Armour had put together with Matt Damon – a WME|IMG client – in his role in the film The Martian.

“There’s an emotional connection to that spot that you can’t force,” Shapiro added and spoke of the days that the NBA’s work with films would comprise a pre-game music montage that felt “stilted” and has all but died out.

Shapiro talked up the variety of services IMG is now able to offer sports clients: “You want to engage with entertainment to activate your NBA deal? We can offer you that. You want us to operate as a boutique? We can do that. With so much flexibility for marketing we need to match expectations.”



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