The details behind last week’s announcement that Deloitte had become a sponsor of SoFi Stadium and Hollywood Park in Los Angeles sparked the following thought: Management consultancies, which have ventured into the marketing agency space with mixed results over the past few years, would be wise to explore the sports rights sales sector.
Consider what Deloitte—and its Big 4 siblings EY, KPMG and PwC, plus Accenture—already bring to the table in partnerships such as the new deal with Rams owner Stan Kroenke’s sprawling mixed-use development and state-of-the-art stadium.
Deloitte states it is “an official digital transformation provider and an official technology alliance sponsor of SoFi Stadium, YouTube Theater, and the Hollywood Park development as a whole. It is also integral to the development of the digital experience throughout the entire 300-acres, focusing on website and app development.”
More specifically, “Deloitte is the digital guest experience consulting services provider focused on creating an engaging digital web and app experience, a comprehensive set of cyber security capabilities, and an innovative suite of next-generation marketing offerings for advertisers. An extensive range of unique guest interactions across all Hollywood Park digital platforms is expected to provide insights to help enable personalized experiences and drive key business decisions.”
At a time when data drives brand marketers’ decisions, sports and entertainment properties have lagged digital, traditional and other media in their ability to tell their story through comprehensive, meaningful and connected fan/customer data. Given management consultancies’ extensive expertise in all things IT and digital—not to mention a host of other related business services—they are in a perfect position to assist rights holders with defining marketable assets, ideating relevant activation ideas based on actual fan insights, determining fair-market value for partnerships and other critical elements necessary to secure sponsorship.
The missing piece is human resources, and it is the easiest to find. There are plenty of people with expertise in sports and entertainment marketing, and, most importantly, with the business development chops to prospect, negotiate and close seven-, eight- and nine-figure deals, who would welcome the challenge.
I won’t pretend to know the economics of these management consulting businesses well enough to proclaim that building out a sports marketing practice would be a slam-dunk financial success—perhaps a joint venture with an existing sports agency would make better bottom-line sense—but the assets they would contribute can’t be argued with.
If anything, some might point to recent marketing history to pour water on this idea. In 2018, many pundits predicted that Accenture Interactive, Deloitte Digital and others would soon be widely replacing advertising and media agencies, as clients became more and more enamored with the broad scope and deep benches they offered. That has not been the case, despite some significant business wins from the consulting giants.
But entering an established field that has creativity at its core—even one as troubled as advertising—required a much bigger leap than the comparatively small step of extending beyond the role of digital and data transformation partner to using the insights gleaned to secure corporate sponsors and help those brands build next-gen partnerships.
I won’t be so bold as to say this will happen. I won’t even go as far as saying it should happen. But it makes enough sense that no one should be surprised if it does happen.