Sportfive helped the L.A. Lakers secure a massive uniform ad patch deal with South Korean foodmaker Bibigo.Courtesy of Sportfive
Global sports agency Sportfive continues to recast its U.S. side, following the 2020 acquisition of what was Lagardère by private equity firm HIG, a subsequent rebrand, the acquisition last July of golf event management event agency Global Golf Management, and the departure of several key U.S. execs last year.
Sportfive’s consulting side, with legacy clients including Citi, Met Life, Moet Hennessy and PointsBet, will now be headed by executive vice presidents Brendan Moynihan (a 2018 SBJ Forty Under 40 honoree) and Josh Wollock.
Sportfive CEO Stefan Felsing identified consulting, golf and esports as fertile areas for growth, both in the U.S. and abroad, and said the agency will continue to hire aggressively and grow by acquisition. “The next phases of growth we’re in will be both organically and by means of M&A,” he said. “We have a healthy mix of capabilities in our group, but we are looking at a number of targets, both globally and specifically in America.”
Former Sportfive consulting head Kern Egan left the firm late last year, taking with him the sports-heavy Bridgestone account and five consulting employees (the agency is refilling those slots) to a new firm he is calling Multiplier, with the tag of “A new platform for creating and growing cultural currency.”
Also departing Sportfive at the end of 2021 was CEO of the Americas Joel Segal, a football agent who subsequently joined WME Sports. Sportfive is now out of player representation, except for golf. The agency then hired former New York Jets President Neil Glat as co-president, along with Steve Loy, who was Sportfive’s president of Global Golf. Consulting now reports to Glat and Loy and the focus for the U.S. business is now squarely on sales and marketing.
As for the overall business recovery, Felsing noted the continued negative impact on the event business from the pandemic, but cited significant growth in other commercial activity, mentioning Sportfive’s assistance in securing the Los Angeles Lakers’ massive uniform ad patch deal with South Korean foodmaker Bibigo.
■ GOOD AND LUCKY: Allied Sports was founded in 2019 with the not-unfamiliar promise of building a scrappy agency with a unique proposition among the morass of sponsorship firms. Still, judging from its growth last year, sponsors are buying in.
Last year, Allied’s revenue grew 3X, while its employee count swelled from 12 to 40 people. Like every agency, it still has some unfilled positions, of course. Consequently, what was a boutique shop is now probably more accurately termed mid-sized. Additional consulting (Allied terms that “brand marketing”) assignments come from lead client Cisco, included triumphing in a highly competitive review for the networking company’s golf sponsorship and hospitality programs, starting with the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, which begins Jan. 31. Allied also reps Quest Diagnostics, becoming more endemic to the sports industry as the pandemic continues.
Also spurring growth were clients in emerging businesses, from the likes of “enterprise-ready hybrid blockchain” company XDC and digital banking platform HMBradley. Allied is formulating the sports and entertainment marketing strategy for each.
“Handling Cisco’s NFL strategy and activation was a big proof of concept for us,” said Allied CEO Greg Luckman, the former head of consulting at CAA, “but it’s important to have a balance of established and nascent brands.”
On the sales side, Allied’s Partnership Development unit is representing D.C. United for sponsorship opportunities, with an emphasis on landing a kit deal for the MLS club. Other third-party-sales clients include the Miami Heat and the Shriners Children’s Open PGA Tour event at TPC Summerlin, just outside of Las Vegas.
With more brands looking to become content providers daily, Allied is “assisting in that shift from sponsor to storyteller,” Luckman said, with an emphasis on working with retired athletes like Chris Long, who are moving quickly after their on-field careers to form content companies. “We’re not in traditional talent representation, but we want to be there as athletes become their own media companies.”
■ COMINGS & GOINGS: Veteran licensing industry executive Greg Sim starts 2022 with a new job: VP, strategic accounts and partnership at OpSec Security. Counterfeiting has long been of one licensing’s festering problems and OpSec’s tamperproof holograms are used by many licensees, including MLB’s industry-standard memorabilia authentication program, not to mention apparel hang tags of some of sports’ biggest apparel licensees, and on every Visa and Mastercard card in your wallet. Sim, whose charter is to grow OpSec’s visibility and presence across major sports properties, spent 21 years in MLB licensing. From 2018 through the end of last year, he was senior director of licensing at Vineyard Vines. … Yet another new year/new title person is Paige Farragut, who just signed on as EVP, partner success at Fevo, an NYC-based social media/commerce platform, which allows groups to buy event tickets jointly. Fevo, founded in 2016, hopes to eventually offer the same technology to consumers jointly buying hotels, flights, cruises and other travel offerings. Farragut spent more than two decades with the Texas Rangers, most recently as senior VP/ticket sales and services. She started with the Rangers in ’99, after seven years in sales with the Stars.
Terry Lefton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org