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Content is king | AEG adds to marketing mix with new content division

  • AEG Studios will work as extension to company’s Global Partnership Group
  • Studio will help partners to maximise investment across various assets
  • Clients include Toyota and Uber

Branded content is becoming increasingly relevant and important for the marketing and advertising industry in efforts to engage with today’s consumers.

Now sports and live entertainment titan AEG has recognised this through the formation of a new in-house division.

AEG Studios is working as an extension to the company’s Global Partnership group, with its creation seen as a no-brainer in an effort to meet rising demand.

“Over the past few years, clients are asking for content to be shot, whether it’s long-form, short-form or non-video content,” Andrew Klein, senior vice-president of AEG Global Partnerships, tells SportBusiness International.

“We have so many assets, whether that’s sports facilities, music venues or our big festivals, and there’s been a lot of content captured at these events which our brand partners are asking for. We wanted to offer AEG Studios as a service to our brand partners because we’d rather deliver some of these stories from our perspective than having third parties handling the content capture. The demand is surely there.”

PICTURE: Staples Center (Getty Images)

Innovative

AEG Global Partnerships oversees worldwide sales and servicing of sponsorships, including naming rights, premium seating and other strategic partnerships. It is one of five core divisions of Los Angeles-headquartered AEG, along with AEG Sports, AEG Facilities, AEG Presents and AEG Real Estate.

AEG Studios will seek to support the creation, production and development of innovative, original content for the company as a whole, as well as its brand partners.

In April AEG Global Partnerships sealed two major commercial deals with Uber and Toyota.

The North American division of Japanese automotive manufacturer Toyota agreed a multi-year extension to its partnership covering AEG’s flagship Southern California properties, including Staples Center, LA Live, StubHub Center and the LA Kings NHL ice hockey team.

“Our partnership deals with events, teams and festivals provide many marketing assets that go along with the contracts,” Klein says. “There’s signage, meet and greets, experiential and now another pretty much standard piece of the marketing equation, which is content to be shared across social channels.

“AEG Studios will hopefully help partners maximise their investment in our various assets through being able to produce and deliver content, and then amplify and share this content with the fans themselves.”

PICTURE: Roger Federer is an ambassador of Rolex (Getty Images)

Branded

Amy Friedlander Hoffman, head of business development and experiential marketing at Uber, says branded content is an important part of the company’s activation strategy for its sports and entertainment portfolio, to the extent that the content is “fun and compelling.”

She tells SportBusiness International: “Our goal with experiential marketing is to surprise and delight our customers with amazing experiences, and content has the potential to be a huge part of that.

“In the physical world, we love pairing a sports fan with one of his or her heroes, whether to square off on the field or get to know each other in an Uber. There’s no substitute for making that connection to a player and creating a moment of pure joy.”

Regarding the benefits branded content can provide over traditional activation methods, Friedlander Hoffman highlights the importance of an “always-on connection.”

“People want access and a personal relationship with the players and teams they love,” she adds. “Branded content gives us the ability to bring that connection to our riders on a large scale while they are out and on the go. Additionally, only a few of our riders can take part in our on-demand activations, but with branded content, we can extend that experience to millions.”

VIDEO: Uber: AEG Studios created this video to support Uber and AEG’s partnership that launched across 27 AEG assets worldwide. To help with the launch, the NHL’s highest-scoring left wing, hockey hall-of-famer, and current president of the LA Kings, Luc Robitaille, surprised unsuspecting Uber passengers on their way to a LA Kings game. (LA Kings)

Lessons

The AEG Studios division has already delivered branded content for a host of its commercial partners.

Reflecting on lessons learned so far, Klein says: “It’s really something of a three-legged stool. One, you must have compelling content and great stories. Two, you have to be able to capture it properly. Three, and these are all equal, is the ability to amplify the content. This is what I think we have learned the most.

“If a tree falls in the woods, and no one hears it, then that’s obviously not good for that tree. Through all the data we have on our concert and sports ticket buyers, all the people that visit our websites, we have a huge ability to amplify content. Now we have the potential for people to hear that tree fall.”

Klein believes that AEG Studios’ USP will be the exclusivity and access offered across the company’s vast panorama of sports and entertainment properties, adding that there is potential for crossover material on a case-by-case basis.

“What we’re able to uniquely offer is access, period,” he says. “It’s very difficult to get access to shoot at events like a Coachella or Panorama in New York, or at the Staples Center or LA Live.

“We have 120 facilities across the world, 34 music festivals, 40 music clubs so I think we’re uniquely positioned to have the world’s largest sports and entertainment production playground.

“If we have brand partners spending money across sports, music and facilities then we can easily crossover as well. For example, we have a lot of LA Kings players who attend various music festivals so if that’s a creative that makes sense we’re definitely able to crossover our content capture.”

Fit to be King: The new division also created a customized content-based fitness programme for the LA Kings. The interactive series focuses on living a healthy and active lifestyle produced in partnership with sponsors – 24 Hour Fitness, Lenny & Larry’s, Yogaglo & Hi-Dow. (LA Kings)

Virtual

AEG Studios is promising content in virtual reality and 360-degree video, as well as documentary and episodic programming. Klein highlights VR as a particular focus for the new venture.

“We’re starting to experiment significantly in 360-degree VR content capture, shooting many of our music festivals in VR, and are building a big expertise in this,” he says. “But it won’t just be limited to video. I think you’ll see still photography, other types of artwork and art installations.”

In terms of sporting events held at AEG facilities, Klein stresses that AEG Studios will not seek to cannibalise live action rights held by broadcasters and organisers.

Citing an example of tennis superstar Roger Federer and his endorsement partnership with Swiss watch-maker Rolex, Klein says: “With regards to sporting events, I think we’ll probably be looking to produce ancillary, lifestyle or shoulder content.

“In most cases, I’d imagine the broadcast rights will have already been sold, but if we have the ability to shoot shoulder content around the events that works for our brand partners that’s where we’ll be able to plug in.

“We’re not looking to shoot the competitions and steal eyeballs from broadcast partners. If Roger Federer was playing the ATP World Tour Finals (at The O2) maybe there are some stories that can be told about the audience, the premium feel of the event and why Rolex is involved in tennis and with Federer. What it’s not going to be is footage of Federer playing Rafa Nadal.”

 
VIDEO – WATCH HERE: LA GALAXY & 76: During the 2017 season, LA Galaxy season ticket members were surprised at their homes with a special delivery from their favourite Galaxy players, the club mascot and prizes from sponsor, 76. The first two deliveries were showcased on Galaxy social outlets and received 50,000 views. (LA Galaxy)
 
Looking long-term, Klein states that while AEG Studios will seek to save the company’s partners money, it is also being looked upon as a new revenue generator for the firm.

He adds: “We’re not being held to specific projections, but AEG Studios is designed to be a profit centre.

"Hopefully we’ll capture some of the revenue that has been outsourced to other folks. But there should also be some efficiencies through working with us as opposed to our partners using an outside resource, saving them some money.”

 

VIDEO – WATCH HERE: Chevrolet Ridiculous Soccer Challenge: In 2016 LA Galaxy stars faced dozens of eight-year-old soccer players in a full-field match at StubHub Center. The Ridiculous Soccer Challenge Driven by Chevrolet provided engaging digital content and highlighted the Galaxy's fleet of Chevrolet vehicles by showing each of the players driving with youth soccer players to StubHub Center. The 15-part video series was viewed over one million times and highlighted Chevy’s endorsement of Galaxy players Steven Gerrard, Robbie Keane, Giovani dos Santos, Ashley Cole, AJ DeLaGarza, Jelle Van Damme, Gyasi Zardes and Baggio Husidic. (LA Galaxy)

EXTRA: Easy Rider – Uber and AEG

Ride-sharing company Uber is engaged in a multi-year deal as the official ride-share and transportation partner for 27 AEG venues and assets around the world.
The partnership includes The O2 and SSE Arena in London, Staples Center and LA Live in Los Angeles and AEG-owned sports franchises in the form of the LA Kings and Major League Soccer’s LA Galaxy.
“AEG is expert at delivering the best live event experiences in the world and we wanted to build on that to ensure the customer’s experience is top notch not just at the venue, but during their transportation to and from the venue,” Friedlander Hoffman says.
“Often, a fan’s enjoyment of the event is interrupted because getting to and from the event sucks. With our partnership, we’re aiming to ensure a seamless, stress free journey to and from AEG’s events for Uber riders and drivers.
“For example, Uber users going to SSE Wembley will have a ‘fast track’ entrance into the arena, allowing them to make the most of their time there.”
Uber has been prolific in the sports marketing space of late, signing deals with franchises, leagues and organisations.
Friedlander Hoffman adds: “Recently, we brokered a multi-year partnership with Manchester United to bring fans exclusive content through the Uber app and in-person experiences on the ground in Manchester and major markets around the world. We will continue to look at partnerships where we can add value and create incredible experiences for passionate fans.”

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