Mike Principe, CEO, The Legacy Agency
Mike Principe started in the sports business 15 years ago by helping Bob Sillerman roll up sports agencies to create the former SFX Sports. After doing the same thing with the former Blue Entertainment Sports Television, Principe helped create The Legacy Agency in January 2012. Principe, CEO of the firm, talked recently about the trends he is seeing in the sports agency business.
The athlete’s view towards sponsorship and our view towards sponsorship has shifted towards fewer, more meaningful connections. We are trying to do a better job of limiting the number of sponsors that an athlete has — to really develop those relationships.”
On agency consolidation: Every five to 10 years, we’ve seen aggregations and then some de-aggregations. Currently, I believe we are in a period of aggregation again, and I expect that to remain in place for the foreseeable future.
About those cycles: Agencies are trying to provide the widest array of service offerings for their clients and potential clients, and aggregation is a way to accomplish that. However, if there is too much diffusion of your message and of your offering, you run the risk of overpromising and underdelivering.
On social media: For better or worse, the players have a voice and a reach that is unprecedented, so they can be much more engaged and active in a positive way and with social causes. And with fans … their ability to influence sporting events is on the rise, and I find that troubling. A case in point is Tiger’s penalty at the Masters. The rules of the game and the outcome of the game should be determined by the participants and the officials at the event. If you have an entire universe commenting on the outcome of a game or the interpretation of the rules, you are traveling down a slippery slope which jeopardizes the integrity of the game you are trying to protect.
Predictions: You will see more international groups or firms attempt to enter the U.S. sports landscape. The U.S. sports marketing business industry in general … is a huge market that doesn’t have much international penetration.
On quality representation: When it comes down to it, agents are fiduciaries of their clients; they have to think of their clients’ interests before their own. If they are not doing that, they are in it for the wrong reasons and they will find out very quickly; they will be out of the business.