SBJ/June 23-29, 2014/Marketing and Sponsorship

CAA gains experience with PGW purchase

CAA Sports has acquired the experiential marketing company PGW, which works with major brands such as AT&T and Starbucks.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The acquisition will allow CAA Sports’ corporate consulting division, which was started in 2011, to offer experiential marketing services to its clients. It also gives it a chance to work with PGW’s roster of clients, which includes Trident, Luxottica and Skechers.

PGW was founded in 1998 by marketing executive Russ Jones, who will work with Greg Luckman, global head of CAA Sports Consulting, to provide experiential marketing programs for corporate clients. Jones, who oversees a staff of 165 employees, will report to CAA Sports co-heads Howard Nuchow and Michael Levine.

CAA Sports’ corporate consulting business has grown rapidly since its launch three years ago. It now manages more than $1.5 billion of sponsorship deals and works with a host of marquee companies, including JPMorgan Chase, Emirates airline, Time Warner Cable and Mondelez.

As the consulting division’s client roster has grown, the division’s employee count has increased by 70 percent, to more than 50, Luckman said.

“Our clients, these brands, are looking for CAA to provide more full-service capabilities and those full-service capabilities can range from strategic consulting to sponsorship negotiations to what we are seeing increasingly more of, experiential marketing,” Luckman said. “With PGW coming on board, that allows us to immediately scale our capabilities in the experiential marketing area.”

Luckman said the PGW acquisition will help CAA Sports deepen its live-event production and grassroots marketing capabilities so that it can offer brands mobile tours and social-media-enabled street teams.

The addition of PGW gives CAA Sports the ability to fully build out and execute programs from strategy and consultation to execution. It will now have a full offering like rival agencies Octagon, IMG, The Marketing Arm, GMR and others. Another competitor with a corporate consulting practice, Wasserman Media Group, acquired an experiential marketing firm, Ignite, last year.

Talks about an acquisition emerged after CAA Sports began working with PGW late last year on an experiential marketing campaign for CAA Sports client Time Warner Cable. Both Luckman and Jones said that through their working relationship they found they had a cultural fit.

PGW works for agencies, but the majority of its clients are brands, Jones said, and has also been rapidly expanding.

“We have never been able to come in and say, ‘Oh, by the way, we can help you in sports marketing over on the entertainment side,” Jones said. “It adds strength to our team and we love it from that perspective, to be able to go to clients and be able to offer new services that we couldn’t offer them before, with confidence.”

PGW is based in the Venice Beach area of Los Angeles and has offices in Chicago and New York, as well as field representatives in markets across the U.S. CAA Sports is based in Century City, a few miles north of PGW’s offices.

To start, the experiential marketing company will continue to operate under the PGW name. “We just felt that was the right thing to do because of the equity that Russ and his team have built up,” Luckman said.

“But make no mistake about it,” he said, “they will be 100 percent integrated into CAA and CAA Sports.”

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