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Volume 21 No. 2
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Plugged In: John Cimperman, principal, Cenergy

Before leaving the property side of the business to start his own agency, Cenergy, in 2002, John Cimperman led the marketing for two NBA franchises and two NHL clubs: the Cavaliers (1992-95) and 76ers (1995-96) in the NBA, and the Kings (1996-99) and Sabres (1999-2002) in the NHL. Based in East Aurora, N.Y., Cenergy has grown to more than 30 employees, serving a roster of clients that includes ESPN, TBS, NHL, MLB Network and AT&T.

The diversity of the agency side and having the opportunity to work with clubs, networks and brands is very exciting.

The importance of agencies:
While on the team side, I noticed too many sponsors were signing the contract, placing their signs, distributing their tickets and filing away the contract. Three years later, they’d come back to us and say the sponsorship didn’t drive their business. Always having the itch to start an agency, I saw a niche for a shop that could manage and activate sponsorships and build integrated programs to leverage the assets and deliver an ROI. In other words, activate it.

On missing the team side: Sure, especially when I see my friends at the Kings raising the Stanley Cup. But it’s rewarding to develop a program and deliver results for our clients. It’s great to apply our key lessons on the brand side to our sports clients, as well as best practices from our team experience to our brand and network clients.

 On the evolution of activation: Activation is on the rise. Brands have seen that the power of sports, entertainment and cause-marketing programs can drive consumer behavior and brand preference. The advent of social media and digital platforms has only increased the opportunity to extend the experience and reinforce the association. From the Cenergy side, no activation programs are developed without a social media or digital extension.
One key rule: It’s critical to budget and build your activation plan before a sponsorship is secured. Too often we see clients invest in the sponsorship and leave little budget to actually leverage the sponsorship. Both the property and the brand lose in these situations. The sponsor loses a great opportunity to build their business and, more often than not, the property loses a renewal.