SBD/May 19, 2014/Finance

Corbis Enters Sports Sponsorship Marketplace With WSM Communications Purchase

Entertainment marketing company Corbis Entertainment bought U.K.-based sports marketing company WSM Communications for an undisclosed amount in ­ a move that allows Corbis to expand into the sports sponsorship marketplace. A formal announcement is expected to come this week. Corbis Exec VP Mark Owens said, "If you look at WME's IMG acquisition, it's certainly a larger story of how sports and entertainment have converged." Corbis has around 30 brands as clients in the entertainment field. WSM uses a similar business plan, focused on sports. WSM CEO Andrew White said, "It's unique to find a company that does something so similarly to you. We saw ourselves as sports experts linking brands to sports. It was great to meet a company that had that skill set, but in entertainment." Execs said there is virtually no overlap in the two companies' client rosters. WSM is strong in financial services and apparel, with companies like Aberdeen Asset Management and Tavistock Group; Corbis has big clients like Heineken, Micrososft and GM. Owens said that the companies' main advantage is that they work on behalf of the brands, rather than properties or talent. Owens: "Many people work on behalf of talent, if you think of the talent agencies. We can really look at what's best for the DNA of the brand versus pushing the content because you're representing the golf league and are pushing golf irrespective of what really works for the brand or the customer." Some of WSM's recent sports sponsorship deals include connecting British Airways with Justin Rose and connecting Aberdeen Asset Management with golf's Scottish Open.
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