SBJ/May 5-11, 2014/Marketing and Sponsorship

Lagardère landing a Haymaker

Builds consulting group around Egan

Looking to augment its corporate consulting practice in the United States, Lagardère Unlimited has hired the leadership group within Haymaker, the 9-year-old sports and entertainment marketing practice of The Richards Group ad agency.

Jay Danzi, senior vice president at Lagardère, would not say how many executives are being hired away from Dallas-based Haymaker. Kern Egan, who founded the group as Richards Sports & Entertainment, will head Lagardère’s sponsorship consulting group as senior vice president, and his group will be housed within Lagardère’s offices in Dallas.

Kern Egan rebranded Richards Sports & Entertainment as Haymaker in 2012.
Photo by: CARY GIBSON / THE RICHARDS GROUP

Egan said “a significant portion’’ of the Haymaker client roster, including the Bridgestone and Firestone tire brands, will move their consulting business to Lagardère, but he would not say which other clients were moving. Haymaker’s client roster includes sports-heavy marketers such as Metro-PCS, Advance Auto Parts, Pfizer, H-E-B and Wawa.

Danzi said he’s been working on bringing Egan’s group over since late last year. “They have a deep understanding of the business and a great track record and are respected across the industry,” Danzi said.

Egan, a SportsBusiness Journal/Daily Forty Under 40 winner in 2011, said the new arrangement will give his group a global reach and likely some incremental business from Lagardère’s existing clients.

“We will continue the branding sensibilities developed under The Richards Group, and we’re sure the reach of Lagardère will take us to new places,” he said.

He added that it was an amicable separation with The Richards Group.

It was unclear at press time whether The Richards Group will continue with the Haymaker name or with its line of business: property and sponsorship consulting.

A spokeswoman for The Richards Group said, “The Richards Group’s new partnerships discipline will be led by a veteran sports, entertainment and cause-marketing team with more than two decades of experience in this burgeoning field that links brands with passionate consumers wherever they are.

“We determined that certain sports activities of certain clients would be best served by continuing with the current team working on their business, and therefore we are allowing those clients and a handful of team members to join Kern’s endeavor.”

The move is the latest in a series of acquisitions and personnel additions for Lagardère orchestrated by former IMG consulting chief Andy Pierce, who joined the company as president and CEO in August. Pierce said he knew within 10 minutes of meeting Egan that he wanted to hire him.

“In pure corporate sponsorship consulting, this is a big add for us that should fit in well across our vertical businesses,” Pierce said.

Lagardère under Pierce has added more than 50 new employees, including IMG alums Danzi, Peter Levy and Roddy Carr. Pierce said he’s also looking to extend capabilities within traditional media rights negotiations, consulting and media production, and expand into Olympic consulting in a size befitting a global company.

On the talent side, Pierce noted that Lagardère is underrepresented in basketball and hockey and would like to expand its baseball representation business. “We’re looking at team sports where we can take a leadership position and really go strong in terms of size and quality,” he said.


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