It’s just speculation, but I suppose the press and panel formula at the IMG World Congress of Sports (WCS) is modeled on technology conferences and not the typical sports conference event. That’s okay, we know that clever, effective conferences let us know just how clever and effective they are, and hence, on reflection, how clever and effective we are.
The first thing you notice is that the WCS is, by a long shot, an ace, a knock out, a hat trick, a homerun and the best sports business event I’ve attended, so far. Each of ‘the press’ moderators prepared, deliberate, and asking the right questions. We’ve seen too many events moderated with the help of the teleprompter – prepared and often from media people with no experience, no understanding of how the business works, and nothing but empty rhetoric, devoid of real substance.
The second thing you notice is that almost everyone is dressed in suits, like the IBM conferences of old, except no one was standing in front of little monochrome monitors. Call me a casual-ist, but I mistrust business people in suits, especially when they are promoting technology products. To me it appears as a peculiar mismatch of form and substance.
But here, substance did follow form, at least with the vendors and attendees I spoke to. They made up for being formal by taking the time to discuss the industry and future with me informally. Here are the highlights of what I learned.
Most advertising time and space is a perishable commodity and a lot of sports venues and teams aren’t lose money on lost opportunities to fill it. Enter Instant Sponsor which specializes in variable, short term sponsorship opportunities across the MLB, NBA, NHL, USPGA and ATP & WTA Tennis using their unique technology to compare and rate sponsorship opportunities. Think of it as a type of remainder advertising for the sponsorship space.
Australian born and Stanford Executive alum, Anthony Puntoriero, Instant Sponsor’s CEO, is kicking off a major campaign to highlight his solution at the first USA Start Up Week where they are offering startup companies short term sponsorship, in association with the Oakland Athletics, the Major League Baseball team. Puntoriero is giving startups the opportunity to take a half inning home plate rotational slot, per game (there are 7 games total), for just $5000.
If you haven’t met Mark Piening, President of Circle Media you’re missing out on an opportunity to learn more about the business of sports. Not necessarily on a historical level, but on a deeper, analytical level of fan and sport. According to Mark his company’s Audience Relationship Management solution, “helps teams and sports properties develop the clearest picture of who their fans are, expand their active fan bases and create engaging activations with them.”
As the business of sports enters a new phase, companies like Circle Media are the first that teams should call. Understanding your audience will become a must-have and not a nice-to-have in the near future.
Next I met Rachel Prowler, Director and North American Lead for GMR Marketing, who gave me a brief background of her company’s extensive record of achievements in sports business. My personal favorites are their Xbox and P&G Olympic campaigns. It was during one of their Xbox events where I first experiences Xbox Kinect – which made me an instant fan.
At the 2012 Olympics, GMR helped create the largest experiential marketing P&G has ever done. An estimated 70,000 visitors walked through and interacted with 34 distinct P&G brands through a P&G branded Family Home during the Olympic and Paralympic Games. According to Prowler, P&G was named the most effective TOP sponsor of the 2012 Games.
This is an agency who clearly understands brand engagement.
As I have covered in previous articles, sports business is about to change forever. Sean Lake, Partner at TFR Agency and highly sought after consultant, agrees – assuring me that it’s only a matter of time. He believes that sports, technology and analytics will bring sports marketing to a new level and that it will become an even more lucrative industry.
The only question left now is how long it’s going to take. And whether the industry is smart enough — or brave enough — to realize it and move forward.