With entries closing soon for the Ministry of Sports Marketing (MSM) Awards 2017, B&T was lucky enough to chew the fat with another of last year’s winners, M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment Australia MD Jamie Gilbert-Smith.
What does it mean to be a Ministry of Sports Marketing Award winner? How has it helped your career/organisation?
We’ve had a phenomenal last 12 months. Our organic growth and new client wins are a testament to the strategy, creativity and tenacity of the team. Winning the award has boosted the team and cemented our reputation within the sports marketing category. To be recognised by your peers and the industry for your hard work, creativity and results is always rewarding and humbling.
What does the Ministry of Sports Marketing Awards mean to the industry as a whole?
Previously, sponsorship and sports had little industry recognition often falling between categories or being lumped in with ‘other’, meaning we’d be up against a medical agency for best ‘specialist’. Compared to the UK and US markets, our field isn’t properly acknowledged for its creativity or effectiveness as a marketing channel.
It’s commendable the Ministry of Sports are putting a local lens on sports marketing. It elevates our industry as a whole and attracts people to our field. Hopefully the awards go from strength to strength.
What makes a great sports marketing campaign?
Sponsorship campaigns should be held to the same high standards as any marketing campaign. A brilliant campaign stems from compelling insights into the passion platforms, tight strategy with cultural or social relevance paired with creativity. Being accountable and delivering brand and business results is imperative.
How do you rate the quality of sports marketing here in Australia compared to the US and Europe? What can we be doing better?
The markets are quite different. We’re lucky to be part of a global network with offices in Sydney, London, Berlin, LA, and New York, so we are exposed to a lot of international work. We see campaigns overseas are often much more ingrained in the overall marketing plans for brands than they are in Australia.
The Australian sports market is dominated by a much smaller number of brands who aren’t pushed to creative excellence by healthy competition. I’d like to see more brands integrating sponsorships into their broader marketing, including CRM strategies, product development and through-the-line campaigns. Overseas, you see products wrapped into the fan experience, companies aligning rewards programs tightly to fan behaviour and engaging content delivered through the most compelling creative.
Once we see campaigns anchored to a purpose, we’ll quickly catch the international market.
What’s the biggest challenge that the Aussie sports marketing industry faces going forward?
Our biggest challenge runs parallel with our greatest opportunity. We have strong national sports platforms with our football codes and cricket, yet some brands are struggling to find cut-through. We need to be more creative with our sponsorship strategies across sports like surfing, esports and drone racing. The opportunity is there for creative and progressive brands to stand out from the crowd in smarter, more targeted ways.
What advice would you give to those marketers wanting to enter the sporting realm?
A love of sport is an obvious must. Additionally, a sound understanding of everything within the marketing mix is essential. To be a great sports marketer, you need to be a specialist in multiple marketing fields. You need to be highly adaptable and be comfortable wearing multiple hats.
Most importantly, don’t assume the industry is a junket. It’s great fun, but ultimately it’s brand and business results that win awards. The free tickets are just part of the ride.