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Volume 21 No. 2
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Plugged In: Peter Stern, The Strategic Agency

Peter Stern founded The Strategic Agency in 1997. The New York-based sports and entertainment marketing firm today touts a client roster that includes the likes of Labatt, Constellation Energy and New York Life. Stern talks here about how companies’ needs have changed through the years, and what sector could be prime for sponsorship development.

The sports marketing business has grown up. Just like on the field, everyone’s gotten bigger, stronger, faster and smarter off the field. It’s become more sophisticated and more embedded in the marketing mix. That’s a big difference from when we started.

On sports and mobile technology: Obviously mobile commerce is going to be a beast. Within sports, mobile technology is also intriguing, because it is or will be a voice that lets fans participate even more. Under the old model, fans dreamed about players being accessible. Mobile is the new tool that makes contact and even a new form of intimacy with your favorite athletes routinely available. You also get so much data from mobile that’s valuable. If you can see that a fan in Row 11 just ordered a salty snack, conceivably you can hit him right away with a discount on a beer. Smart brands will be gathering and using data like that as it becomes more available.

On big events: You used to be able to sign a sponsorship, add a spot or two, and you could have some impact. The new model is that you’ve got to do a lot more things to connect. Properties are building more big, tentpole platforms, like the NHL’s outdoor games, because they let you hit the button on social media [and] PR — and launch products — and get a big brand halo.

On clutter in the technology sector: You will see more and more sponsors from the technology sector, as it continues to evolve, and exclusivity won’t matter as much. In the new world, it’s more about finding your own differentiation and building your own swim lane. As long as you can differentiate, you’ll be OK, regardless of the category definitions.

On new sponsorship possibilities: The most apparent developing category is health care, and you may see some interesting slicing up there also. Health care has a real relevant place in any number of sports, and there are any number of healthy/active lifestyle marketing platforms you could create

— Terry Lefton