GroupM to beef up sports marketing focus

James McGrath
By James McGrath | 20 May 2015
Melbourne City's training base in Melbourne

WPP has beefed up its sports offering to sit within GroupM, and it may already have an Australian client on the books.

The global media giant has launched ESP Properties and ESP Brands, two units which have been created to “serve rights holders from the worlds of sports and entertainment, including federations, leagues, events, teams, publishers and venues.”.

The new units will offer a “thorough assessment of their commercial programs”  to come up with ways to grow revenue, and will open with offices in New York, Chicago, London, and Singapore.

It will also offer global partnership sales on behalf of rights holders, both to existing WPP clients and beyond.

Questions posed to GroupM on whether it would have an Australian presence have not yet been answered, but the group may already have an Australian client on the books.

The unit has launched with clients including the All Blacks, Cleveland Cavaliers, Valencia CF, the England and Wales Cricket Board, Pele, and most tellingly, The City Football Group.

The Group, backed by billionaire Sheik Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, was created to oversee the creation of an affiliate network of soccer clubs. These include Manchester City, New York City FC, and includes an 80% stake in local A-League side Melbourne City FC.

It is unclear at this stage whether the new unit is working with the local club on commercialisation options, and answers to the club posed by AdNews this morning were not returned by deadline, although sources have indicated that the new arm is not yet active in the Australian market.

“There is significant and growing demand on the part of clients to invest more in content and sports, but few in our industry have had a serious response to this,” CEO of WPP Sir Martin Sorrell said.

“Our new ESP Properties will bring creative power and commercial insight to rightsholders for the first time, providing unmatched opportunities to better tailor their offerings to the needs of today's brand sponsors.”

President of GroupM Global Dominic Proctor said the new unit would help bring sports rights holders and brands closer together.

“Sport is a driving force in media and we want to serve the market better by assisting rights holders in optimising their properties and creating more winning partnerships with leading brands,” Proctor said.

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