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Volume 6 No. 192

Marketing and Sponsorship

This has been a busy, exciting summer for sports marketing analysis and research company Repucom CEO Paul Smith. Over the course of three weeks in May, Repucom announced it was expanding into Canada, Latin America and Brazil. Repucom announced May 9 it was opening an office in Vancouver. On May 14, the company announced a joint venture to offer service in Latin America. Then, a week later, Repucom announced it was expanding into Brazil, opening an office in São Paolo. Repucom was formed in ’04 in Sydney, and has since expanded globally to 14 countries. Smith recently took time to chat with SBD Global Assistant Managing Editor Brandon Zimmerman about the company’s expansion and vision for the future.

Q: What is Repucom’s philosophy in expanding so deep into the international marketplace?
A: It’s not like we’re trying to open an airline and get as many air rights all over the world. We’re trying to identify major opportunity markets for us. There’s no doubt as we look at European opportunities, precursors to our growth are the maturation of the sports marketplace.

Q: What did you see specifically about the Latin America marketplace?
A: I get nervous about the caravan arriving into town, and a fleet of agencies pouring into market. We looked at Latin America for five years. We had a big challenge to get into place in the U.S. That doesn’t mean we didn’t consider issues south of border. When we speak to corporations, they have strong focus on Latin American market. Some don’t have a global view. Their focus is Americas, per se. Other markets you need a strong, viable partner in those markets. Whether the [2014] World Cup or [2016] Olympics was a trigger for us, knowing Latin American market is important now, will be important in five years and will be in 10 years.

Q: What impact did Brazil hosting the upcoming World Cup and Summer Olympics have on your expansion there?
A: Brazil already has a market, and will have one after those events. What we don’t do is come in, pick the pockets of a certain market, then get out. One of the differences between us and others is that we build our own markets.

Q: What growth or changes have you seen in the sports marketplace in recent years?
A: I formed the view a long time ago that sports business is changing. A large percentage of sponsorships today are made for sound business reasons. For that reason, people need effective data and research to advise that decision. The vast investments people are making in sponsorships today are good decisions. When you look at the changing consumption of goods, sports sticks out. It attracts a strong, hard-to-reach demographic. It’s driven by live viewing.

Q: Along those lines of live viewing, how much has people’s ability to instantly react via social media changed the marketplace?
A: Well, Repucom’s perception is that we’re logo counters. However, social media is certainly driving the conversation hard. We use social media as the counter on sports. Social media tells the whole story about attitudes of people sitting out there in bars and living rooms. We’re seeing clients are moving toward specific circumstances. Our clients need logos counted, but they do need to convert that over to understanding in pure logo research. If you pull the thermostat out of the mouth of social media, you get people’s temperature.

Q: Where is the next marketplace Repucom is looking to expand into?
A: We’re not a German, American or Australian business. We’re a global business. We commit to markets, open offices there and stay there. Right now, we have to sit and wait and think about China. We like where we’re at with Latin America, we like where we’re at with Southeast Asia and Japan. But China is one market that we’re going to sit back, and just look at for now. We’ve got a lot on our plate right now.

Italian Serie A club Juventus has agreed to a three-year sponsorship deal with Swiss company Hublot. The luxury watch brand will act as the club's official timekeeper from the '12-13 campaign onward. The partnership, which includes the supply of clocks, stopwatches and wristwatches, was officially sealed at a Tuesday press conference held in Beijing, where the team is currently preparing for Saturday’s Italian Super Cup match against Napoli. Hublot already boasts a large number of football-based partnerships. It first sponsored the Swiss national team in the 2006 World Cup before collaborating with FIFA and UEFA for the World Cup and European Championship tournaments. The company also has commercial associations with ManU, Bayern Munich, Ajax and Flamengo (Juventus).

Wholesale distribution company Playcorp has signed retail deals with Rebel Sports and outdoor specialist Anaconda, according to Andrew Storrier of Playcorp acquired the distribution rights to Under Armour in Australia 18 months ago, and promoted UA through sponsorship deals with the Australian Football League, adventure sports company Tough Mudder and Greater Western Sydney Giants athlete Israel Folau. The brand's official sports apparel partnership with the AFL is worth in excess of $500,000. In the U.S., Under Armour is the fifth-fastest growing retailer and sponsors athletes like Michael Phelps and mixed martial artist George St. Pierre (, 8/7).

The life of Brazilian gymnast Arthur Zanetti "will pass through a revolution" after his Gold Medal in the still rings competition at the London Games, according to Marcelo Belpiede of Before the Olympics, Zanetti "was not one of the big names of the sport in the country" and only had one sponsor. His agent Mosiah Rodrigues said, "When we talk about individual sponsorships, Arthur has one, [foods company] Sadia, which also sponsors other gymnastic athletes: Diego Hypolito and Sergio Sasaki." However, with a Gold Medal to his name, negotiations involving Zanetti "promise to heat up." Rodrigues added: "My job was already being done before the Medal, assisting Arthur in getting partnerships and improving the structure. The idea is to leave him relaxed, so he can focus on his function of being a gymnast. Now we hope to take advantage of this victory to conquer more things." On the other hand, people "who understand the reality of sports" know that Zanetti cannot be hoping for "rivers of money" to come his way even with a Gold Medal (, 8/7).

German Bundesliga club SV Werder Bremen extended its sponsorship deal with solar company SIG Solar Group for the upcoming '12-13 season. The extension was brokered by Werder Bremen's sports marketing partner Infront Sports & Media. SIG Solar has been a partner of the club since the '11-12 season. The sponsorship deal includes ad space in the stadium, cam carpets behind the goal lines and an attractive hospitality package (Werder Bremen).

ON THE ROAD AGAIN: The new Mercedes-Benz Citan will debut on the pitches of Lega Serie B for the '12-13 season as an official partner of the Italian second-tier football league. The execution of the new partnership will see the Citan brand highly visible in stadiums across Italy (Infront Sports & Media).