Sports marketing is dull and ‘stuck in the 70s’, says Iris as agency launches new division


Nico Tuppen: Fans want more creative, provocative and challenging campaigns

Creative agency Iris has revealed plans to open a dedicated sports marketing division after launching a withering attack on the sector which it claimed was out of touch with modern trends and stuck in the “dark ages”.

Sports marketing simply has not moved on in 40 years, Iris Sports managing director Nico Tuppen said, with many brands and sporting properties still too focused on traditional media.

Today’s sports fans are “bored” of the current marketing efforts which belong in the 1970s rather than 2016, he said.

The savage criticisms came as Iris said dedicated teams are in place in Singapore, Sydney and Amsterdam to bring what it claimed would be a new approach to sports marketing.

It will look to “harness the power of passion, provocation and participation” to create meaningful, two-way conversations between fans and brands, it said.

The agency, which lists Adidas as among its global clients, described its condemnation of the current state of sports marketing as an “uncomfortable truth”.

It suggested brands and sports properties are still hooked on traditional media and favouring “Chairman’s Choice, rather than real innovation”.

risiThey are also failing to evaluate whether their marketing efforts or assets are driving any business or brand value.

“Sports Marketing is still stuck in a 1970’s world. It’s still middle-aged men talking about passion and glory, trying hard, and the joy of being a fan,” he said. “A whole new generation of male and female sports lovers is bored of this. They want sport to be colourful, diverse, entertaining, social.”

Fans have changed, as have the channels they access and operate in, he said.

“It’s more than being passionate about the game or displaying loyalty to a team. We believe it’s as much about culture as it is about sport – and should resonate with what we describe as the ‘Slash Generation’; an audience that wants brands, assets and campaigns to be more creative, more provocative and more challenging.”

Iris said its sports marketing teams have backgrounds in sport, lifestyle and entertainment. They will also work closely with its consulting, CRM, data and insight team, Iris Concise, to “add commercial rigour across all activity”.

That will involve identifying the right partnership or influencer, evaluating the activity and proving its worth, the agency said.

“This means better performance from sponsored assets, better real time analysis of the activity and better integration of campaign metrics from the start.”

Tuppen added: “This is where the real difference and benefit for clients lies. Our approach with iris Sport actually understands the real commercial return of sports marketing.”

The agency was recently been behind the All Blacks Force Of Black activations for the 2015 Rugby World Cup, and opened the digital Ferrari garage to F1 fans with Shell.

Other work in sport includes Step Inside with Johnnie Walker in Singapore.


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