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Sports Decision Makers Summit 2019 Takeaways

May 17, 2019

ISL executives were fortunate to attend Sports Business Decision Makers Summit to take in some great insights into current sports business and marketing trends.

While a majority of the Miami, FL event held at the W Hotel focused around sponsorship and partnerships, the summit also covered investment in sport, global expansion of sports brands, sports fans, collegiate athletics, and much more. Read up on some of the major insights discussed, and social media highlights.

Sports Decision Makers Summit

FC Barcelona North America – ISL Partner

Xavier O'Callaghan FC Barcelona ISL

Xavier O’Callaghan, FC Barcelona Managing Director for North America, held a closing keynote address on day 1, focusing on the club activities across the North American landscape. Earlier in the day, James Palotta, President and Chairman of AS Roma, spoke on the importance of building a global brand for major European soccer clubs. O’Callaghan echoed this sentiment and took it further by stressing the importance of breaking into the North American Market.

Fans in Asia, are different to fans in Europe, who are different to fans in South America, who are even more different to fans in North America. Each region brings different challenges, and North America appears to be the most challenging, yet most rewarding. O’Callaghan cited 2 important strategies that build the FC Barcelona fan base in the United States, those were the presence of a North American office, and the expansion of Grassroots efforts like the world famous Barca Academies. ISL continues to execute the major Barca Academy grassroots strategy, and growing the famous FC Barcelona brand.


Eelco van der Noll, head of Partnership and Sponsorship for Anheuser-Busch inBev, spoke on the Brand side of sponsorship and partnership. One key topic was on the value of the Esport target market for brands. All the major sports and leagues primary targets vary in ages, however they are all primarily 30+ years old. Esports primary target market, 24-30 years old, is an extremely valuable age range for building lifelong brand affinity.

Partnership, Not Sponsorship

As a major focus of the event was on partnership and sponsorship, we had to mention some of the modern approaches to the effective marketing strategy. Chief Revenue Officer for Blitzer Sports and Entertainment, Adam Davis, spoke on a modern approach to partnership marketing. Today, brands are looking for partners, not sponsors. Traditional stock sponsorship packages are a thing of the past. Instead, the approach to a modern conversation needs to have the mind frame of improving the business for each side of table, and it’s an ever evolving relationship.

Thank you to our partners at Sport Business. Check out some of the event highlights below.

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