Danny Rogers: Why sports marketing is proving to be the future

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The Independent Online

Lord Tim Bell is well-known as amaverick. He was a legendary adman at the founding of Saatchi & Saatchi and also Margaret Thatcher’s press adviser. Now herunsChimeCommunications, the biggest owner of PR agencies in the UK.

But he said something at Chime’s interim results recently that surprised many. He predicted that almost half of his business, which also includes ad agency VCCP, would come from sports marketing within a few years.

Bell’s sports marketing arm saw a 7 per cent boost in net revenues to £19.2m year-on-year. Indeed, right across the PR industry, revenues fromthe sports sector are bucking the generally sluggish trend.

So what is driving this buoyancy? In part it is the London 2012 bandwagon, with myriad brands trying to prove their sports credentials as the Olympics buzz comes to these shores. This stretches beyond official sponsors, and those with a natural “fit” such as Nike or Paddy Power, to the likes of Cadbury, Red Bull and even financial institutions.

With few entertainment vehicles still able to provide brands with young, engaged audiences on a scale they demand, big sporting events are becoming relatively much more powerful.

Digital media also make such events genuinely global. So we see savvy British sports consultancies opening outposts in destinations such asBrazil, which will host a World Cup and an Olympic Games within the next five years.

At a time of global unrest, it seems that sport provides a welcome diversion to consumers everywhere – and an increasingly lucrative opportunity for media operators with a background in the sports world.

Danny Rogers is editor of PR Week