Repucom CEO Talks About Expansion Into Canada, Latin America, Brazil
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  World Cup or  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.