SBJ/September 12-18, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

Source Communications gathers industry veterans to open sports marketing agency

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Saying it will “put the marketing back in sports marketing,” Source Communications is launching a hybrid marketing agency, Source1 Sports. The new sports practice will be headed by veteran marketing executives Ray Katz and Ben La Marca and be housed within Source’s offices in New York City; Hackensack, N.J.; and San Diego.

Source, a 28-year-old creative shop with about 60 employees, has sports-centric clients including Wise, Amtrak, Sony, Hewlett-Packard and franchise groups representing around 3,000 Subway restaurants in the East and Midwest.

“We see in a lot of cases that the marketing side gets lost. A lot of times, it just feels like it’s not direct and strategic enough. We’ve always done things from a retail perspective, so we know how to activate as a matter of course,” said Source President Larry Rothstein.

Katz brings years of sports marketing experience to Source1 Sports. For the past two years, he was president of sports properties and media at Leverage Agency, but he also has worked at OMD/Optimum Sports, the NFL, the defunct Football Network, Madison Square Garden and American Express. He said the new agency’s capabilities will include strategic consulting, digital and social media implementation, property negotiation and activation, creative, “selective” property representation, analytics, and media planning and buying.

“We know the business, and having that knowledge, along with digital, media buying and creative under one roof, is the logical evolution for an industry where all the talk is about integration and 360 marketing,” Katz said. “Combine that with Source’s retail expertise, and that’s our point of difference.”

Katz said the agency does have some clients in-house, but would not reveal them yet.

La Marca, who was president and CEO at Kyocera Electronics and also has held VP roles at both Olympus America and Eastman Kodak, has been chief revenue officer for sports content aggregator FanFeedr for the past two years. He will share managing partner responsibilities with Katz, while Rothstein will be CEO.

“To integrate sports with creative, it really has to be within the DNA of the agency, and that is what is attracting me. Every marketer is looking to bring its customers closer and with programs that are sustainable, so we think sports can and will have impact on overall marketing budgets if we can show senior management that it can be used for a lot more than just branding,” La Marca said.

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