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SBJ/20100308/Forty Under 40
Published March 8, 2010
A faltering economy spells opportunity for Jeff Eccleston, who as vice president and group director of Sponsorship Research International helps clients maximize the value of their sports sponsorship deals.
“When the market goes south everyone asks more questions, and CMOs are asking a lot of tough questions these days,” Eccleston said.
Eccleston does more than just provide research to justify his clients’ marketing spend. He works to optimize his clients’ marketing opportunities as much as he evaluates a sponsor’s return on its investment.
“We are developing tools that delve into not what has happened but why it has happened,” Eccleston said. “We look at how we can do things to help clients save money by eliminating wasteful spending on sponsorships.”
SRi has long provided its services to brands, but now Eccleston is leading the effort to help properties create customized programs to attract more sponsors.
“Historically, most of the work was with brands, but now we are working with rights holders,” Eccleston said. “They are waking up and playing in this space more than they were five years ago.”
Eccleston, a Penn State graduate, has spent more than 15 years in market research, joining SRi in 1999 when the company was a division of ISL. SRi was acquired by Velocity Sports in 2001, but operates mostly independent from its parent.
“What is unique about Jeff is that he not only gives you the data, but he gives you a lot of analysis as to what is useful,” said Harlan Stone, chief business and marketing officer of the U.S. Tennis Association, who worked at Velocity Sports when it acquired SRi. “He tries to put on your hat to solve the puzzle.”
While some may see the research as a dull but necessary business tool, Eccleston works to inject life into the numbers.
“We are taking what many perceive as a boring or less glamorous topic and turning it into something that is actionable or, dare I say, fun and interesting,” Eccleston said.