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SPORTO 2016: Data relevance, building on authenticity and capitalising on skill sets of the 21st century

SPORTO 2017 activities are just around the corner, but before we focus completely on following and contributing to the latest trends in the industry, we took a quick look back at the 360-degree insights of the SPORTO 2016. The 13th edition of the conference that brings together brands, sports properties, agencies and the media – and has grown into the leading platform of its kind in Southeastern Europe – once again gathered key people from the industry and offered an opportunity for networking, exchanging ideas, experience and know-how. 

Guests were some of the leading international sponsorship and marketing strategists, coming from Two Circles (part of ESP Properties), Octagon, Activative, Sport England, British Gas and Sponsorship Coach, and specialists from the regional brands, Frikom, Lidl Slovenija, Eles, VAL 202 and Telekom Slovenije. They shared the stage together with representatives from renowned international and regional sports properties, like Southampton FC, Ironman, Budapest 2024 Olympic Candidacy, Ice hockey club Slovan Bratislava and HNK Hajduk Split and with a special guest – the ski jumping star Peter Prevc. We gathered some of the SPORTO 2016 facts and figures in the info-graphic below.

And what did participants from 12 countries and all industry sectors find out in (S)Portorož? About the latest trends, approaches and opportunities in the field of sponsorships and endorsements, how can brands and sports properties successfully apply the latest digital and technological trends into their work, what are the best tactics for brand building and fan engagement, and how to stay in touch with the ever changing world of sport, whichever stakeholder of the industry they might represent. SPORTO remains on the crossroad of aforementioned topics with one touch point – harnessing the power of sport. Here are some of the videos and quotes from our distinguished guests, part of 2016 programme.

The key-note speaker at SPORTO 2016 was Matt Rogan, Chairman of Two Circles and Executive Director of ESP Properties, who assured the industry that when it comes to the shift to individualism sports industry is trying to catch the last train. In his opinion the relevance of data is finally getting the spotlight it deserves. “Just by combining two or three bits of data in a smart way and talking to the right people at the right time, you can achieve amazing things that an FMCG brand or a retailer just can’t – because sport gets you in the heart. It’s behind, but ultimately, when it gets itself sorted out, it can be far more effective in the personal communication space than any other industry.” Matt Rogan appealed to sports properties, especially smaller ones, to reconsider the traditional way of broadcasting and try to push the individual organisation further with generating load of data with a different kind of distribution: “If we’re thinking about broadcast, let’s think about narrowcast and targeted communications to the right audiences. Because the platforms are available now and we can do that for next to nothing.” Matt Rogan also stressed that “we need a completely different set of skill sets in our industry in order to push it forward and be able to compete.” And what that is going to mean, is that “sport will finally be able to prove the art of the possible, what’s really capable of, and not be met with scepticism, relative to other marketing forms.”

Tanya Joseph, Director of Business Partnerships at Sport England, in charge of a globally awarded “This Girl Can” campaign, which changed the view on women’s participation in sport and successfully encourages women to a more active lifestyle, emphasized the importance of the campaign’s tone of voice: “It was really important for us that we did a campaign which wasn’t preachy and that made women feel positive. We also didn’t want it to make it sound like a typical government information campaign. It was really important for us making it very light-hearted, with a real sense of humour, talking to women like women, like our friends. That has absolutely resonated and made women feel very positively about the campaign.” It is all about the understanding. “This Girl Can” campaign gives women, whether they are professional athletes or just trying to enter the world of sports, the voice. Here is Tanya Joseph’s example: ”Talk to us like we’re real people, talk to us like we’re important. Understand what our barriers are; understand why we want to do something and why we don’t want to do something. Help us along the way …” 

Clifford Bloxham, Vice President at Octagon UK, has had more than 30 years of experience in working with personal brands of athletes, among others with most decorated Olympian of all times Michael Phelps. Not everyone can be a super star, not everyone can win a trophy, but there are little things that make a sportsperson stand out. “The most important thing is to be true to yourself. Also important is trying to stand out from the crowd. If it is just something little you do. Maybe you just make sure you thank everybody when you finish an event, because that is rare. Because not everyone wins a trophy but everyone can say thank you or everyone can give the ball boy something” added Clifford Bloxham and suggested that the global aspect of sport should be taken into account: “If a certain country doesn’t take part in sport or sport is not important in their market, everything can suffer. There is no regional anymore, everything is global.” Clifford Bloxham acknowledges the opportunity of the platforms, where different ideas meet. “The most important thing in this industry is that you can always learn from others. Things that you do in Slovenia can help us with what we do in England or America. No one knows everything. As soon as you think that you do, then you are finished.” 

A name already familiar to the SPORTO community, Toby Hester (formerly at Castrol, T-Mobile and Coca-Cola, now CEO at Sponsorship Coach) returned to the SPORTO stage and presented his view on starting a journey of a sports property approaching a sponsor brand. It all starts with taking interest. There is a range of research elements for a sports property to look at before it picks up a phone or writes to a potential sponsor. “If you show them love, if you show that you care about their organisation, a lot of people have a conversation. Once you have a conversation, you have a relationship. That is what we hope to have with brands, with rights holders, with agencies. It is about developing relationships and that is the fundamental of sponsorship,” believes Toby Hester.

Jeremy Edwards, Head of Content and Consulting at Activative praised some of the activations for the 2016 blockbuster events: “What I really liked about Rio was the switch that some sponsors made mid-cycle to take into account some of the grassroots feeling of the local communities and environments in Brazil. I think that is really important in global event activation, because so often global brands at big global events are seen as being separated from the actual fans that go to the stadium and the kind of realities of what the fans and the supporters are going through on the ground.” Technology is playing an important part in activations and according to Jeremy Edwards speed of change is only ever going to increase. After 150-years time to perfect the press adds, now the industry only has few months to make an impact on Snapchat, WeeChat, Instagram, etc. That is something that everyone involved needs to take into account. “We’re going to have to reassess what it means to do a brilliantly crafted work because you are never going to get the same level, skills and craftsmanship in two months that film-makers and directors and producers and actors and strategists and planners got in the mediums where we had decades and decades to learn how to do great work.” 

Matej Praprotnik, Assistant Director for Radio Strategies at Radio Slovenia, part of the RTV Slovenia national radio television, which was the official broadcasting partner for Rio 2016, gave insight on how Val 202 – a showcase for successful new media integration in reaching new audiences on new platforms – uses Snapchat and advised everybody how to become a successful part of the digital world: “I would suggest everybody to hire professionals that really know a thing or two about online or social and who are able to predict what’s going to happen next. Hire skilled people because then you’ll get the brainstorming relevant for your brand and for your organisation. You need a professional to make an impact on the society, on your audience” concluded Matej Praprotnik. 

Premier League's Southampton Football Club – recognised as the fastest growing brand in global football in 2015 according to The Brand Finance Football 50 annual report – have become known for pushing the boundaries and doing things differently. James Kennedy, Head of Marketing, presented the idea behind bringing creativity and fans to the core of the project. “Keeping fans at the heart is really important, understanding what they need, how they think, how they act and how they talk is really important. That’s basically how we’ve done it. We understood fans and then we created something for them. When you overlay the knowledge of science with creativity, you can do some really cool stuff.”
You can find many interviews with the SPORTO 2016 guests on our YouTube Channel. “Real-time” Twitter insights from the conference can be found under  #sporto2016. More details about SPORTO 2016 action packed programme will be available in the publication SPORTO Summaries (lectures and debates) – together with the new issue of SPORTO Magazine – in April. 

Thank you for being part of SPORTO / please follow our channels on the road to SPORTO 2017.


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