CAPE TOWN – Sport is generally associated with the action on the field, but the real plays in the modern-day professional era are actually made in the boardroom.
Realising that sport is now a multi-million rand industry in South Africa, Ignite Talent Lab gathered the city’s industry leaders and deal-makers at the Cape Town Convention Centre on Friday morning for the “Business of Sport Breakfast” to examine where the future growth in the sports and entertainment industry is, especially with regards to the digital revolution.
Personalities such as Cape Town City chairman John Comitis provided insight into how his football club became an overnight phenomenon in the Mother City.
Others such as Michael Varney (head of marketing: Varsity Sports) and Megan Roper (head of marketing: DHL Sub-Saharan Africa) described their company’s strategic involvement with Varsity Sports and Western Province Rugby respectively.
Former Proteas players Ashwell Prince and Robin Peterson also discussed the “business of cricket” with Cricket South Africa high performance manager Vincent Barnes.
“I think this was a great networking opportunity, and we are always glad to support initiatives like this, especially here in Cape Town,” Comitis said. “We are a new and young club, and are always looking for ways to expand our markets and fan base.
“It was really interesting to see how other brands are looking to grow, especially in the digital space, where we know a lot of our younger fan base operate in.”
Courier company DHL, who earlier this year opted to renew its multi-million rand contract as title sponsor of Western Province Rugby for a further four-year period – making it the longest standing title sponsorship in WP Rugby’s history – provided enlightening details about how they view their relationship with the Newlands-based union.
“Sponsorships have evolved from merely showcasing one’s logo on the jersey. We view this sponsorship as a partnership – an opportunity for us to add value, emotionalise our brand and demonstrate our logistics capabilities,” Roper said.
“We too have evolved from being just a B2B company to being even more consumer-facing and in touch with our customers across more touch-points than ever before, driven mostly by the rise of e-commerce.
“I feel getting together like this under roof is essential, especially here in Cape Town where there are plenty of conferences held, but not many focused on sport.
“It is important to showcase the synergy of the brand and the sport it is associated with.”
The bona fide theme of the morning was, however, how sport is consumed in 2017, with a specific focus on the expanding digital spectator, and the influence social media has on a fan’s experience and interaction.
Fareed Behardien, 32, provided his personal journey from an arm-chair fan into the founder of the South African award-winning blog “leavethecouch.com”.
“I thought it was very cool to be asked to speak. I’m just an ordinary guy, so to get up on stage among some ‘heavy hitters’ in the industry was a real thrill,” Behardien said.
“But that’s what people want to hear. The real truth. The ugly truth. And that’s what my blog is about. I treasure my readers’ opinions, and that’s I how I gain their trust.”