“Ninety percent [of my salary] I’ll spend on good times, women, and Irish whiskey; the other 10% I’ll probably waste.” — Tug McGraw
After 30 months as CEO and co-managing director of three-year-old Allied Sports, Greg Luckman has moved his desk to another startup: Range Sports, where he will be co-president of Range Media Partners’ sports division, which opened in July.
Luckman and Will Funk, who was brought on July when the division opened, will be co-presidents. The division lists a broad, er, range, of capabilities, starting with the parent company’s ties into A-listers. Brand consulting, property sales and representation and media rights consulting and sales also will be company capabilities (Range brokered rights to the Dec. 2 neutral site Peacock Classic between Gonzaga and Baylor).
Range also will rep on-field talent, including 60 NFL coaches such as the Jets’ Robert Saleh, Dolphins’ Mike McDaniel, Chargers’ Brandon Staley and Broncos’ Nathaniel Hackett, who were brought in through the football division founded last month with agent Richmond Flowers. Among the players being repped are new 49ers starting QB Brock Purdy.
Funk said Range will operate from offices in Santa Monica, Nashville and London, with plans to eventually open a N.Y. location.
Aside from Allied, Luckman’s agency experience includes stops at Momentum, GroupM ESP and CAA Sports. He’ll continue with Allied through the rest of the year.
With a background at the NBA and Turner, Funk will combine expertise on content and IP creation with Luckman’s in corporate marketing. Luckman would not say if he received equity in Range Sports or Range, as was the case with many of its hires. Range was founded in 2020 by a number of agents from talent firms, including CAA, WME, ICM and UTA, with primary investors including Mets owner Steve Cohen.
Range Sports now has eight employees, while the parent company has around 140.
Allied Sports Founder CRO & co-Managing Director Sean Barror noted his company’s growth over the past three years, from a dozen to more than 40 employees, with some open jobs pending. “(Luckman) is leaving Allied Sports in excellent shape,” Barror said. “We launched during the pandemic, and we are turning a profit, so our backers are happy.’’ Allied is unlikely to have a CEO moving forward, he added.
Luckman said Allied, which also has Hollywood ties though its parent Allied Global Marketing agency, is in discussions with Range about potential collaborations. Without revealing much detail, Funk said his unit was already negotiating an Olympic sponsorship for an unnamed brand and developing separate series with NFL and MLB teams.
There is no shortage of sports agencies, of course, but Range is counting on the increasing demand for content from athletes and brands to be a differentiator, along with its in-house production capabilities and management of entertainment stars including Johnny Depp, Bradley Cooper and Mariah Carey. “Talent to content to commerce is our thesis,” said Funk. Added Luckman: “In this content-focused era to have these capabilities in house was too good to resist.”
Octagon, which moved its HQ in 2017 from Norwalk, Conn., to a 57,000-square-foot location on the Long Island Sound at Stamford’s Shippan Landing, is “re-relocating” back to Norwalk next year.
When it moved five years ago, the IPG-owned sports, entertainment and experiential agency said it had signed an 11-year lease. We can only assume this was a post-pandemic work reconfiguration, but a company spokesperson was mum on the rationale behind the move.
Employees have known of the relocation for some months.
The Head of the Charles Regatta has retained Jeff Doyle’s Cadence Solution Partners to assist in packaging and selling sponsorships to the competition, held annually since 1965 on the Charles River in Boston. What its organizers tout as the world’s “largest three-day rowing event” is widely considered the top event in American rowing.
It’s believed to be the first time that Regatta administrators have employed an outside sales agency on more than an ad hoc basis. Cadence is hoping to add more media components around the Regatta and develop social/digital media programming.
Regatta sponsors tapping into the event’s traditionally high-end demos and C-level penetration include BNY Mellon, which has been presenting sponsor since 2013. It’s a deal that runs through 2023, and renewal is uncertain. The brand is in the financial services/fintech category, which seems a likely target for additional corporate patrons. Other regatta sponsors include Vineyard Vines, Massachusetts Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Moderna, Delta Air Lines, DoorDash, Boston Beer Co. and Mr & Mrs T, the event’s official Bloody Mary.
Most of the regatta’s sponsorship assets are outdoor signage, booths and hospitality at the event, which draws more than 200,000 spectators and more than 11,000 rowers annually. With another venerable local event, the Boston Marathon, leaning toward its first-ever title sponsor, is the Regatta also rowing in that direction? “With today’s financial stresses, we would do that for a long-enough term deal,” said Fred Schoch, president and executive director of the Head of the Charles Regatta. “We used to say we’d never do that, but…”
After nearly seven years as a consultant, veteran marketer David Paro has gone in-house with a brand again, joining MoneyGram as head of global sponsorships. He’ll report to CMO Greg Hall. As principal for his own Deep Alliance consultancy, Paro helped fashion MoneyGram’s recent title sponsorship deal with the Haas Racing F1 team, which begins next year.
MoneyGram, an 80-year-old brand that has largely been a retail play, is looking to reposition to more of a digital payment/fintech brand.
“The growth of F1 was a real attraction, as was its growing reputation for innovation and technology,” Paro said. Dallas-based MoneyGram also has a sponsorship with FC Dallas of MLS. Paro, an agency vet who was formerly director of U.S. sports alliances for McDonald’s, will continue to be based in N.Y. (when not following F1’s global footprint).
Paro added that while he’ll wind down his consulting assignments, he plans to continue the “Wait…What? #sportsbiz chat with DP & McGhee” podcast he’s been doing for a year with Tim McGhee, who is SVP/strategic partnerships for NFT company Sweet.
- Tom Manchester is joining the health club chain Planet Fitness as VP/field marketing. He had been brand president at MaidPro for the past year, preceded by marketing slots at a number of national brands, including Dunkin’, Gillette and Ocean Spray.
- F1 expects the 2023 Las Vegas event to be the highest-grossing in its history, both in sponsorship sales and overall revenue, a source tells SBJ’s Adam Stern. Mercedes-Benz USA and Red Bull, two major sponsors of F1, are expected to be sponsors of the event, and F1 Las Vegas is set to bring on brands in the categories of credit card, spirits and slot machine.
- SBJ this week unveiled its most influential execs in sports business. Among those on the brand side making the list are Anheuser-Busch InBev’s Matt Davis and Marcel Marcondes, Nike’s John Donahoe and John Slusher, PepsiCo’s Adam Harter and Frito-Lay North America’s Brett O’Brien.
- World Aquatics (formerly FINA) is close to finalizing a long-term deal with an agency to lead sponsorship sales, reports SBJ’s Chris Smith. World Aquatics is the federation that governs global competitions in the disciplines of swimming, diving, high diving, water polo, artistic swimming and open-water swimming.
- The Jazz this year have signed six new sponsors — Awardco, American Express, Crumbl Cookies, Grit Marketing, Superior Commercial Solutions and Visionary Homes, notes my colleague Eric Prisbell. Two of the deals exceed $1 million annually, bringing to 20 the number of million dollar-plus contracts in the franchise’s portfolio.
- Celsius fitness drink has a sponsorship deal with USC QB and Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams, reports SBJ’s Austin Karp.