SBD/October 6, 2011/Events and Attractions

IMG Sports Marketing Symposium: Spending, Marketing-Savvy On Rise Among Top Properties

Luckman not seeing same sense of concern about economy as several years ago
Despite the sluggish economy, many of the nation’s top sports and entertainment brands are increasing spending -- though doing so more cautiously and across fewer properties, according to the participants on a panel titled, "Agency Executives Speak Out." CAA Sports' Greg Luckman said, “I’m not finding the same sense of concern or as much caution as a couple of years ago. At the same time, there’s more work being put into the planning cycle.” IMG Consulting Senior VP and Global Managing Dir David Abrutyn: “What certainly has proven true in our business is that sports is working. If you look at the television ratings here in the U.S. for the major sports properties, you look at some of the global properties that are expanding into this market ... what they want to do is find a way to spend money on things that work. They’ve got people activating in football in a way that some people would not have thought given some of the labor challenges.” Octagon Marketing North America President Jeff Shifrin, who jokingly said that it pained him to agree with Abrutyn (and IMG), concurred, saying, “Even through the recession, three or four years ago, we never really saw clients spending less. We actually see them spending a lot differently.” As far as where clients are allotting their budgets, Shifrin added, “Our clients are spending a lot more on the marketing side and activation side, they are not looking for new properties. Much more targeted.” Team Epic Principal Michael Reisman echoed the same: “Our clients are spending more on activation than ever before.”

SHOWING GROWTH: Abrutyn said brands and properties have grown in terms of marketing know-how. He said, “Properties are also shifting some of their thinking from sponsorship business ... where today they are media companies. Staying with the NFL example, it’s NFL.com, it’s the NFL Network. There are so many other ways they want you to invest in the league. Whereas before it was about the rights fee to them to invest in the league, now it’s about the whole conversation.” Shifrin cited NASCAR as a prime example of a property -- like many others -- that has conducted an internal review and made changes. Shifrin: “I do think the properties are doing a better job. We’re actually seeing people try to do ROI analysis when they come in for the first or second meeting. Ten years ago, we would have never seen that from a property. I think all the properties are, I don’t want to say they’re catching up to where the marketers are, but they’re catching up to where the marketers are.”

See a full agenda for the conference, and get highlights and updates from the sessions via SBJ/SBD's running blog and Twitter feed.
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