Leverage Marketing Advisors (LMA), a new sponsorship and strategy consultancy agency, has been launched and plans to work with brands and sports properties around the world.
LMA brings together a group of experienced agency, brand and sponsorship executives, particularly within the realm of major stadium naming rights deals.
Among the team is Steve Fund, former chief marketing office and senior vice-president at Intel and senior vice-president at Staples.
The executive line-up also includes Mark Ingall, former managing director of media, branding and marketing at Citi Bank; Roger Duthie, former head of global sponsorship at global airline Emirates; and Tim McGhee, previously head of sponsorship at mobile network AT&T.
Discussions around the formation of the agency began in earnest as the Covid-19 outbreak began to take hold, with the group setting out to provide guidance to brands both during and following the Covid-19 crisis.
Steve Fund, told SportBusiness: “I believe that in a post Covid-19 world, the traditional sports marketers will be very visible and a lot of brands that haven’t leveraged sports before and don’t have the expertise or manpower to support it will start to show up, and they will need help.
“With our client-side experience, we think and act differently than traditional sports marketing agencies.”
Ingall said: “If you think of normal agencies, you rely heavily on one person-the account director, it can be a slightly flawed model. I was on the client side for 25 years and you got the feeling you were working with the junior people and the senior people signed off on it.’
”With this agency you’re not getting the advice of one person. The model we look for is to have at least four of the senior partners working with each client.”
The majority of the group is based in the USA, but it reaches other markets through the likes of Duthie, based in Dubai and former head of global sponsorship at LycaMobile, Omar Khan, based in London.
Khan told SportBusiness: ‘’For me the critical ingredient of the group is the global breadth and the experience in challenging times.’’
‘’What this period is going to teach us is that you’ve got to be consultative and you’ve got to think about CSR and sustainability.
”With our experience, we’ll be able to provide a challenging proposition for any brand or rights holder.”
The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium naming rights deal will be the immediate priority of LMA, with the mandate for this held by sister company, sports, entertainment and media marketing Leverage Agency.
Previously multinational bank HSBC was interested in acquiring the rights, but discussions broke down. In December, reports indicated that Tottenham were looking for around £25m (€28m/$31.5m) per season in a deal which would run for 15 years.
Ingall said the Covid-19 crisis and sport without fans attending would have an impact on how stadium naming rights deals would be constructed.
He said: ”It changes the relationship from game-day focus to a more balanced approach. That balance has got to change now.
“The Tottenham Hotspur stadium is a great example of how it’s not just about promoting a stadium to fans, it’s about the whole experience, a stadium naming rights deal is far more about how the brand activates all aspects of that relationship.”
The group was brought together virtually by Ben Sturner, chief executive and founder of Leverage Agency.
Speaking to SportBusiness, Roger Duthie, commented: “This developed rather quickly during the time of the crisis. Ben found a lot of senior people with vast experience around the world. We use Zoom and we all communicate daily. We were born virtually and we will thrive virtually.”
Whilst the team was somewhat borne out of the environment created by the Covid-19 crisis, there is a long-term plan for the business to develop.
Duthie explained: ”We’re all in it for the long haul, we’re thinking big.”