GroupM, the media investment management company from WPP Group, has announced that it is expanding its sports and entertainment offering under a new global agency brand, ESP.
ESP is made up of two separate businesses - ESP Properties and ESP Brands. Both businesses will be part of GroupM, but will remain independent of its media-buying operations.
The new ESP Properties will be led by John Kristick, who has been global CEO of GroupM ESP since 2011. The business will be led regionally by Jonathan Hill (EMEA), Laren Ukman (North America) and JinWei Toh (APAC). ESP Brands will be managed regionally in North America by Bryce Townsend and through the individual GroupM agencies in other regions.
ESP Properties will be dedicated to serving rights holders from the worlds of sports and entertainment, including federations, leagues, events, teams, publishers and venues. It will offer a thorough assessment of their commercial programs, and advise how to grow the revenue they generate through a full range of services across data, digital and content development. It will also offer global partnership sales on behalf of rights holders, both to existing WPP brand clients and beyond.
ESP Properties will be formed through new hires, the integration of existing GroupM business units including sponsorship agency IEG and the acquisition of data-driven sports marketing agency Two Circles. It will collaborate with specialists from the WPP network to deliver a full range of marketing services. It will also work with GroupM Entertainment on new programming concepts and, where mutually beneficial, provide direct finance for new projects.
ESP Properties will launch with over 150 staff in hubs across New York, Chicago, London, Singapore and Mumbai, plus additional teams in Los Angeles, Sao Paulo and Dubai, amongst others. It launches with a roster of globally recognised clients including the All Blacks, Cleveland Cavaliers, Valencia CF, England and Wales Cricket Board, Pele, and City Football Group.
Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO of WPP, says, "There is significant, and growing demand on the part of clients to invest more in content and sports but few in our industry have had a serious response to this. Our new ESP Properties will bring creative power and commercial insight to rights holders for the first time, providing unmatched opportunities to better tailor their offerings to the needs of today's brand sponsors. ESP will also work hand in hand with our recent investment in Bruin Sports to provide our clients with access to many high-value media and sponsorship opportunities."
Dominic Proctor, chairman of ESP and president of GroupM Global, comments, "The global launch of ESP Properties brings leading commercial and creative capabilities to some of the world's most celebrated names across sports and entertainment. Sport is a driving force in media, and we want to serve the market better by assisting rights holders in optimising their properties and creating more winning partnerships with leading brands. At the same time, we will ensure we work more efficiently on behalf of brands by providing even more resources for the specialist sports and entertainment practices that are embedded in our GroupM agencies, underpinned by a central team in key regions, ESP Brands."
The launch is part of WPP's growing commitment to content, demonstrated by its investments in MediaPro, VICE, Indigenous Media, FullScreen, MRC, and, most recently, Bruin Sports Capital.
John Kristick, CEO of ESP Properties, says, "By combining the strategic expertise with unmatched understanding of how to navigate potential brand partnerships, we can uncover new revenue opportunities for rights holders worldwide."
George Pyne, founder of Bruin Sports Capital, adds, "The ability to access the group's unmatched global resources and corporate client base will be very helpful as we create value for the relevant businesses Bruin operates. We also anticipate collaborating with ESP Properties to jointly deploy capital and create new businesses as opportunities arise."