SBJ/March 12-18, 2012/Marketing and Sponsorship

Ivy League hires Leverage as first marketing agency

For the first time in the conference’s 58-year history, the Ivy League has retained a marketing and sales agency. The Leverage Agency will consult with the “Ancient Eight” on media, sponsorships, social media, public relations and licensing.

Within the last few years, the conference has added conference tournaments in men’s and women’s lacrosse, and a women’s crew championship is scheduled for this year. The Ivy League is also seeking a new or renewed football TV deal, since its Versus/NBC Sports Network deal has expired. A comprehensive sports television package is the goal, but there are television deals with individual Ivy schools in sports, including basketball and lacrosse, that are clouding the issue.

After Robin Harris replaced 25-year Executive Director Jeffrey Orleans in 2009, the schools pooled their TV rights, but a cross-sport national TV deal has proved elusive.

Still, the Ivy League has gained recent notoriety with Harvard alum Jeremy Lin’s success in the NBA and with the Crimson earning an NCAA men’s basketball tournament berth for the first time since 1946.

“We’re taking a fresh look at all the opportunities we have to get the Ivy League athletic brand more exposure and bring all of the assets to bear and monetize them,” said Scottie Rodgers, Ivy League associate executive director for communications.

Assets to be sold by Leverage include digital, social, live television and an expanded array of sports shoulder programming. There’s also the possibility of expanded marketing efforts behind some of the most attractive Ivy events, like the annual Yale-Harvard football game, first played in 1875.

Said Leverage CEO Ben Sturner: “We’re excited about the opportunity and I don’t have to tell you about the Ivy League demographics and its leadership profile in sports and everywhere else.”

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