SBJ/Oct. 19-25, 2015/Marketing and Sponsorship

Team Epic will become part of Dentsu Aegis’ MKTG team

Sports and entertainment marketing agency Team Epic is merging with experiential and retail marketing shop MKTG as part of a global unification of six agencies owned by the Dentsu Aegis Network.

The new offering, designed to counter offerings from rival global conglomerates like Omnicom and IPG, is composed of six sports, entertainment, experiential and lifestyle marketing agencies that will be bundled under the MKTG name, with the Team Epic and other brands being phased out.

The new MKTG will be headquartered in New York City and headed by former MKTG Chairman and CEO Charlie Horsey, who is becoming global brand president, MKTG.

New MKTG
Agencies combining under Dentsu Aegis to form the new offering:

  MKTG
Team Epic
  psLIVE OOH 
     (Posterscope)
  Crimson Room
  ApolloNation

Dentsu Aegis acquired MKTG last spring. Currently, MKTG has 450 full-time employees in the U.S. With the addition of Team Epic’s 150 employees and those of the other agencies now under the MKTG brand, the employee count swells to 980 across 14 countries, including offices in the U.S., Asia, Europe, Africa and Australia/New Zealand.

“The idea is the ultimate global lifestyle agency, focusing on sports, entertainment, events and retail marketing on a global basis,” Horsey said.

Capabilities of the new MKTG will include sports and entertainment consulting, experiential marketing, event capabilities, sponsorship negotiation and activation, hospitality, strategy, research and insights, measurement, digital and creative capabilities, content development, design and retail marketing.

“We think Team Epic can elevate the MKTG brand in sports and entertainment consulting, while MKTG can elevate our brand within the lifestyle marketing space,” said Team Epic Principal Mike Reisman, who will retain that title, although the Team Epic name will eventually disappear.

“Look at our research capabilities and our acquisition of [event agency] Vivid and you can see that we think the same way when it comes to offerings we think are important,” Reisman added.

Horsey said he does not anticipate layoffs.

“We are not doing this for the sake of operational efficiencies,” he said.

Some agencies in the new MKTG are already sharing office space. Shared clients between MKTG and Team Epic include AT&T, Wells Fargo, OtterBox and FedEx. Team Epic’s client roster also includes Toyota, Avis/Budget and IBM.

Team Epic, a 2014 winner at the Sports Business Awards for Best in Corporate Consulting and Client Services, was founded as Velocity Sports & Entertainment in 1999 but traces its roots to seminal sports marketing shops of the 1990s: Clarion Sports & Entertainment and International Sports & Entertainment Strategies.

In 2010, then-parent Aegis combined Velocity Sports & Entertainment, Vivid Marketing, SRi and a portion of digital shop Isobar to form Team Epic.

Giants sponsor Quest Diagnostics is testing a new program for athletes.
> NEW BLUEPRINT: Behind every title sponsorship deal there is normally a branding imperative, a hometown company play or a business-to-business grab in which things like bank loans or technology services are bundled. Or it can be a combination of those factors.

When medical lab giant Quest Diagnostics put its name on the New York Giants training center two years ago, its reasoning was not readily apparent, beyond a vague promise to “improve the health and performance of athletes of all ages and abilities.”

Now the $7.4 billion company is testing a program for athletes that it hopes will do just that.

Blueprint For Athletes is a new blood biomarker analysis designed for athletes. Based on data voluntarily collected from the Giants and other athletes, BFA will provide athletes with individualized plans regarding vital areas like nutrition, training and recovery.

Quest is big enough already that it says it services about half of U.S. physicians and hospitals and diagnostics for one in three adults in the U.S. annually. What if they could get consumers to seek out their services to achieve things like personalized training, diet and game-day regimens?

Richard Schwabacher, executive director of sports and human performance, said the rationale behind the program was the same one driving the naming-rights deal: “It’s given us an avenue to work with elite physicians [on the BFA Advisory Board] and athletes to articulate the value of diagnostic services and more comprehensive health information,” he said.

Quest’s other sports sponsorships supporting BFA include the San Francisco Giant Race, along with title sponsorship of the Ironman Boulder Triathlon. BFA will be tested in four markets early next year: New Jersey; Austin, Texas; Denver/Boulder; and San Francisco.

“The idea was that while everyone else studies athletes from the outside, Quest would study them from inside the body,” said New York Giants CMO Mike Stevens, whose other efforts combining sports marketing and health care include a 112,000-square-foot Giants-branded gym and wellness center, and an annual health and fitness expo at MetLife Stadium.

“The idea is to find out things about yourself before they become a problem, something you can do with diagnostics in a way you can’t do with anything else,” Stevens added.

 
“This was not your standard sponsorship, which is what was intriguing,” said 16W Marketing’s Frank Vuono, who handles sports marketing for Quest. “We even found an
 
athlete who was allergic to grass. Obviously that’s information you want to know.”

> NOISE FROM BOSE: As we expected, the Oct. 5 column about
Bose turned to BBDO and its NFL sponsor experience for the “Better Never Quits” ads featuring J.J. Watt (top) and Russell Wilson.
CAA, Team Epic and the Bose/NFL account produced quite a bit of noise. Here’s another tidbit on the Bose/agency beachfront: Bose has quietly shifted much of its creative for the “Official Sound of the NFL” from a largely in-house effort to an agency long considered one of the leading creative shops: BBDO, New York.

We’re unable to determine why a company known for audio reproduction wanted to keep this move so quiet. However, both NFL and sports agency sources confirmed that the two Bose/NFL “Better Never Quits” TV ads, one of which combines Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson with music from Raury and another that pairs Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt and the Zac Brown Band, along with a non-sports-themed ad, are BBDO-produced.

No doubt useful in winning the Bose work was the fact that BBDO handles four other NFL sponsors: FedEx, Pepsi, Visa and MarsSnickers brand. BBDO was also the lead creative agency for the NFL from 2006 to 2009, brought on by then NFL Chief Marketing Officer Lisa Baird, who now has the same title at the U.S. Olympic Committee.

> COMINGS & GOINGS: Preetam Sen, senior manager of premium partnerships for Brooklyn’s Nets/Islanders and Barclays Center, where he’s been since 2011, moves to Manchester City FC and City Football Group. Sen will be based in New York City as director of the Americas on the global partnerships team, selling for Man City, NYCFC, the Yokohama F. Marinos and Melbourne City FC.

Terry Lefton can be reached at tlefton@sportsbusinessjournal.com.

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