CSM adds GlideSlope to the fold
Continuing to expand its U.S. presence, CSM Sport & Entertainment has acquired GlideSlope, a boutique New York City agency specializing in the Olympics and other global sports, along with marketing analytics.
Under terms of the deal, GlideSlope will become the Advisory Group of CSM North America; its 15 employees will be merged with CSM S&E’s consulting practice and housed within the New York City offices of LeadDog Marketing, acquired by CSM last October.
“This gives us world-class-strategy, research and analytics, along with some great brand-name clients,” said Jeff Shifrin, group CEO for CSM S&E.
GlideSlope co-founders and sole equity stakeholders Dave Mingey and Eric Guthoff (both former SBJ Forty Under 40 honorees) will become managing director and executive director of CSM Advisory, respectively, reporting to CSM North America President Rob McQueen.
Mingey said he and Guthoff have spoken to a number of suitors of their agency, and had been talking to CSM for more than a year. Other suitors included traditional consulting agencies and some established sports marketing shops.
“We got serious with a few others, but we really feel like CSM is building the next-generation consulting company in sports,” Mingey said.
Even though the deal was finalized last week, GlideSlope has been working with some CSM clients for the past six months. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
GlideSlope was founded in 2010 and quickly earned a reputation for top-level management adviser consulting, particularly with non-endemic clients employing sports marketing. Clients include Dow Chemical, Citi, Pepsi, Johnson & Johnson, Anheuser-Busch and Clif Bar. GlideSlope also developed and enhanced analytics at a time (post-recession) when the industry was desperate for more accountability.
“There’s still an increasing need for true analytical rigor in the sports space,” said Mingey, who oversees the analytics group and previously held marketing titles at Nike, Pepsi and Johnson & Johnson. “As sport becomes more complex and costly, the consideration of the right strategic framework to allow companies to better leverage sports has become critical.”
Said McQueen: “The piece of this that’s most important to us is insights and analytics. They’ve become critical capabilities for any agency. Also, GlideSlope’s ‘management consulting’ positioning means their clients are usually C-level, so obviously, that’s an advantage.”
Citi hired GlideSlope shortly after the financial firm began its five-year sponsorship of the U.S. Olympic Committee in 2011. The agency quickly became a trusted adviser, said Ed Skyler, executive vice president of global public affairs at Citi.
“A lot of consultants will help you find other ways to spend your money,” said Skyler, who oversees sponsorship marketing among other divisions. “What’s good about them is they help you make your spend more efficient so you get the most value.”
Guthoff said CSM’s aggressive posture means they don’t have to choose between growth and being acquired.
“We were looking for a global footprint, and now we have it,” Guthoff said. “They want to build something. You can build it organically, but to find someone who is also wanting to build it and already has a bigger footprint, that really was attractive.”
The move is the latest in an accelerated rollup of agencies and executives for CSM S&E, the sports marketing and entertainment division of London-based Chime Communications. The acquisition of GlideSlope brings the U.S. employee count of CSM S&E to around 380. In March 2016, that total was 80.
Since hiring former Octagon President and COO Shifrin and former Jack Morton President McQueen last year, new CSM consulting clients include Transamerica, Jack Link’s, Trans-Lux (sports marketing agency of record) and Hisense (motorsports agency of record).
“With GlideSlope’s addition, we now range from an elevated strategic offering all the way down to the production side,” Shifrin said. “We offer senior people working on accounts and we all left the larger agencies because we’re excited about building something unique.”
While Shifrin didn’t expect additional CSM acquisitions until the fourth quarter, he named digital marketing as one capability the agency will be seeking.