Former advertising mind and sports exec, Rod Harys, has launched Fan+ – a fan experience platform that connects people with sporting clubs, athletes and personalities via an experience.
Dubbed by Harys as “the Red Balloon” for sports and entertainment, the new platform was designed to create unforgettable experiences for sports fans.
B&T had a chat with Harys to find out exactly what Fan+ is all about.
How did the concept originate?
I have worked in adverting and marketing, then moving in sporting administration so the idea came from my background in these areas and seeing a gap in the market where a platform might be able to generate a new revenue stream via a fun, unique experience.
Tell us a bit about yourself – the man behind FAN+?
I have had a very successful executive career working in adverting, then moving into sports administration as CEO of the Sydney Kings, chief commercial officer at Volleyball Australia and more recently as head of sponsorship and strategy at HelloWorld Travel. About six months ago, I had a plan to create a marketplace where sporting fans could access unique money ‘can buy’ experiences. I took the leap of faith and left the corporate world to enter the unpredictable world of start-ups.
Today’s modern sporting landscape is very much built on moments, and with the advent of social media, fans feel more connected with sports than ever before. How does FAN+ bridge that gap?
FAN+ creates real-life moments that gives fans everlasting memories of the actual experience. They are able to connect with their idols, heroes or people they look up to in real life, rather than just via a screen.
With that constant connectivity, the expectation has fallen on athletes to step up and become role models. How would you say they have responded?
The response from FAN+ and the athletes we are working with has been great. They are all very excited to be part of a new innovative platform like FAN+, as it is a way for them to connect with everyday fans, by way of experience and also support a charity at the same time with a percentage of their experience going to a nominated charity.
FAN+ also features experiences that involve coaches and other minds behind the game. What kind of knowledge can be gleaned from them, particularly for younger, aspiring athletes?
This is a really exciting part of the platform we are expanding, as the response we’ve had has been great, not only from younger aspiring athletes, but from students studying at university who want to hear from experienced leaders in their field. The knowledge that can be drawn from such an experience can help an athlete or student understand and learn from people who have been at the forefront of all aspects of sport across multiple codes and years of experience.
How would you say Australian sports have marketed themselves in recent years? Is the approach similar to American sports, or have they focussed instead on what makes them uniquely Australian?
I feel the support the governing bodies and TV networks give the codes and clubs some fantastic cut through, especially at season launches and around the big matches. Some Australian sports do have challenges with filling stadiums compared to American sports, but we have a small population compared to the USA and we do have a lot of professional clubs all competing for fans and corporate dollars. It’s an exciting period with all the investments and new stadiums being built around Australia, which will hopefully help with attracting more foot traffic and crowds to events.