SPORTO 2019: What can we expect from (S)Portorož this year?

We are only a week away from this year’s 16th edition of the international SPORTO Conference taking place next Thursday and Friday, on 21 and 22 November, in the 5*hotel Mind Slovenija in Portorož. The event will bring together the main sports industry players from the broader region: representatives of different sponsor brands, sports organisations, agencies and media from 14 countries.

Once again, (S)Portorož will welcome the most renowned experts from various fields, meeting at the crossroads of sponsorship, branding, digital communication and fan-engagement.

Thursday: From women’s football and the Vikings to sponsors’ creativity

Ladies first. This year’s conference will open with insight into the commercial growth of women’s football in the recent period from the rights holders and sponsor brands perspective. We will learn more about the strategy behind England women’s national football team and a fast growing sports brand – the immensely popular Lionesses. The topics will be presented by women’s sport experts Sally Hancock (UK Sponsorship Personality of the Year) and Sally Horrox, Managing Partners at Y Sport, and Marzena Bogdanowicz, Head of Marketing and Commercial for Women’s Football at The FA. Marzena, who is also the architect of the Team GB brand, will be joined by Slovenian representatives Urška Končar, Head of Marketing and Communication at NZS, and Andreja McQuarrie, President of Women’s Football Club ŽNK Radomlje.

The next guest speaker is also a lady and her name is also Sally. Sally Burtt-Jones is Senior Director of Business Development at Rakuten Viber, part of the Japanese technology company Rakuten Inc. working closely with partners such as the NBA team Golden State Warriors and FC Barcelona, will shed light on how to engage audiences in this age of short attention span, including the use of chatbots. “Wrestler” Giancarlo Bernini, Senior Director of Marketing and Commercial Operations at WWE International, and Scott Kegley, Executive Director of Digital Media and Innovation at the Minnesota Vikings, the NFL team with multiple awards for innovative digital campaigns, will reveal more about successful business models, the blending of sport and pop culture, content creation and innovation.

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Thursday afternoon with Jonathan Turner, Head of Digital Content at The Ocean Race, will give us a bit of an adrenaline rush as we take a behind-the-scenes look at how the sailing event which won a number of global sports marketing awards in 2019 and one of the toughest tests of a team in professional sport harnesses technology, communication and sustainability to an immersive fan experience. Joel Seymour-Hyde, Head of UK at the global creative sports marketing agency Octagon, will talk about the creative breakthrough work in sports industry, awarded this year in the Cannes Lions inaugural sports category “Entertainment Lions for Sport”.

The official part of the first day will conclude with our eminent guest Guy-Laurent Epstein, Marketing Director of UEFA Events S.A., who will share his experiences and views on the changes in content distribution, OTT platforms, e-sport and the challenges for European football in a changing media landscape.

And the award goes to …

After the programme, the event will continue with SPORTO Dinner, SPORTO Awards & Brands ceremony (both at the 5* hotel Mind Slovenija) and SPORTO Party with Samuel Lucas & The Groove Station at the Tivoli Club.

In collaboration with the European Sponsorship Association (ESA), we will award best practices in sports sponsorship, marketing and (digital) communication for the eighth time, and, together with the research company Mediana, present the SPORTO Brands 2019 to winners in Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia.

Friday: The last quarter belongs to Dallas

Sophie Morris, Board Director of the European Sponsorship Association, will give an introduction, and, together with Veljko Odobašić – Sport MTS (Telekom Srbije), sponsorship partner of two big rivals, Crvena Zvezda and Partizan – explore the potential of sponsorships that go beyond the company’s promotional integration. Can marketers change the internal perspective of sponsorship as well?

How to move from Formula 1 to a top bike? A respected branding expert, John Allert (Managing Director of McLaren Pro Cycling and Board Director of McLaren Racing), will explain how and why McLaren expanded their brand by entering professional road cycling. He will be joined in the discussion by Bahrain Merida Pro Cycling Team’s Managing Director Milan Eržen.

Find detailed conference programme and schedule HERE.

Jeff Nathenson, who has a longstanding experience in working with YouTube, is Managing Director of International at Whistle Sports, a digital media company that creates content for post-Millennials, the so-called Generation Z. He will speak about the reasons why companies and brands should approach social media differently than other marketing platforms.

The final speaker at this year’s conference comes from Dallas, where everything currently revolves around the exceptional Luka Dončić. Connor Terry, Corporate Account Executive at Dallas Mavericks, will lead a discussion where he will, among other things, elaborate on the commercial impact of our basketball star on the NBA franchise and on how the team navigates the NBA’s relatively new international partner program.

SPORTO as the leading sports marketing event in this part of Europe is an excellent opportunity to share knowledge and experience to leverage the communicative and commercial power of sport and grow business connections.

A detailed conference programme is available HERE.