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When Brian Gordon was a partner with the Miami Marketing Group, there wasn’t any problem that couldn’t be solved with a good party. He and one of his partners with the agency, who was known as the club king of Miami, were known for matching brands with entertainers at some of the grandest parties on South Beach.
Along the way, he met Ed Kiernan, who came from a more traditional sports marketing background, running golf programs for clients at Peter Jacobsen Sports and later GMR Marketing.
The firm developed Corona’s ATP World Tour activation.
During Engine Shop’s first year, it has attracted Mercedes-Benz, Omega, Johnson & Johnson, and Carey International, among others, as clients for its sports and entertainment marketing.
“Brian and I met 10 years ago and we talked about getting together several times and until now, it just never worked out,” Kiernan said. “Finally, we were able to bring together this unique set of disciplines and Rolodexes that give us access throughout the sports and entertainment world.”
In the last year, the agency has grown from 15 people to 60, and it is hiring for seven new positions. Kiernan estimates that Engine Shop could be up to 100 employees by the end of the year.
At the core of the business is finding marketing opportunities that bring sports and entertainment together.
In New Orleans, Engine Shop took Mercedes-Benz into GQ’s Super Bowl party as one of the primary sponsors, where it had branding around the party site in the Garden District and placed a CLA model inside the venue.
“Within sports, we’re seeing an increasing convergence of entertainment and creative activations that stretch from events on-site to
At the Super Bowl, Engine Shop developed programs for ESPN and Mercedes-Benz.
ENGINE SHOP (2)
Gordon, who brought a deep list of connections from the entertainment world, and Kiernan are two of five partners in the agency, along with Jennifer Carper, Ryan Schinman and Chris Handy.
Shinman and Gordon formerly were partners at Miami Marketing Group, which included a marketing agency on one side and nightclub ownership on the other side. They bought the third partner, David Grutman, out of the marketing business and rolled it into Engine Shop. Clients like ESPN came with them.
Johnson & Johnson came on board last year. Engine Shop is working with J&J sports medicine brand DePuy Mitek on a FIFA World Cup program. Corona, PrimeSport and Omega also are clients.
Soccer player Alex Morgan was called in for a clinic sponsored by DePuy Mitek.
“That really helped catapult us to where we are today,” Gordon said.
Carper, who had worked on the Mercedes-Benz business for the last 15 years, had been with Sage Collective, where she negotiated Mercedes’ naming-rights deal with the Superdome in 2011.
She struck out on her own last year, and after giving her own consultancy a try, Carper in February came to Engine Shop, where she has been reunited with Mercedes. She remains based in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
“Yes, we understand the traditional sports base, the naming-rights deals, the endorsement contracts, the sponsorships, but we also bring an extra umph into activation because, what’s nice, is that we’re intersecting with entertainment marketing,” Carper said. “We can cross over into golf and host outings with executives from the entertainment industry.”
That will likely come into play with Mercedes as it seeks a stronger connection with Hollywood. One way to do that is to establish relationships with film and TV executives through unique golf experiences, something Engine Shop is considering with its client, which also is a patron sponsor for the PGA of America.
“It’s no secret that many of Mercedes’ competitors are very active in film and television,” Gordon said. “Mercedes needs those top-down relationships in the entertainment world and music world. These are the people they need to know, and we can use our relationships” to help facilitate that.
Engine Shop still has a bevy of non-sports entertainment business, such as the Absolut-sponsored Swedish House Mafia private concert in Los Angeles, but the convergence of sports and entertainment will continue to mark Engine Shop’s business.
“You can start to see how this network of relationships can add value,” Kiernan said.
Andrew Judelson, IMG’s new senior vice president for U.S. business development, has turned to a relationship from his past and hired Charlie Saunders to be IMG’s vice president of marketing.
At IMG, Saunders will be responsible for developing new business proposals across the company’s college and U.S. business units while also overseeing IMG College’s sponsor and university services, and the college division’s marketing strategy. He’ll report to Judelson in IMG’s New York office.
Additionally, Kary Brock has been promoted to vice president within IMG College with responsibility for marketing strategy, activation and programming. She will report to Saunders in New York.