Global Partnership Activation with Jason Clerkin, Orlando Magic

By Brian Clapp | February 17, 2021

Hey everybody, I’m Brian Clapp, VP of Content and Engaged Learning at WorkInSports.com and this is the Work in Sports podcast.

Look, I hate to do the old…”I remember when I was kid…” start to a story, I hated it when others around me did this when I actually was a kid, and I hate doing it now. 

But, with all that qualification out of the way...I’m about to do it, so forgive me. Thanks.

I think we all have moments where we graduate from being solely sports participants and fans to having a more broad appreciation of the business of sports. The first time I started to realize the entanglements between sports and business was as a little league youngster. No, it was not the sponsored names on the back of our jerseys from Valpak or Sylvester's restaurant. Rather the memory that vividly sticks out for me is the cheesy local ads created by the stars of my then-favorite team...the Boston Red Sox. 

I remember vividly watching Wade Boggs, before he became a traitor and went to the Yankees, reading an advertisement for Hood Ice Cream. He’s standing on the field, clearly reading from off-camera cue cards and telling everyone how they should eat more Hood ice cream and that if you came to an upcoming game, you’d get a free mini red sox baseball helmet sponsored by Hood.

This was a lightbulb moment for me, and I wondered aloud how much extra ice cream was sold because of Wade Boggs telling kids like me to do so. I told my mom we had to buy Hood because Wade Boggs said so. Frankly, she didn’t give a crap about Wade Boggs, so she bought the store brand at Country Fare Star Market in Stow, Mass if you are wondering. 

I found myself paying more and more attention to this connection, this association, after that point. Dwight Evans endorsing local car dealerships, Jim Rice talking up OceanSpray juice box night.

Brands have always sought out sports franchises to build their reputation, move more products and grow awareness of their brand. These mutually beneficial partnerships between brands and sports have done nothing but grow since my halcyon days. 

 


 

The revenue of the North American sports sponsorship market was estimated at approximately 17 billion dollars in 2018 and is expected to grow to over 20 billion U.S. dollars by 2022. This figure, in 2018, accounts for around 70 percent of the total sponsorship market

So that means, sports partnerships comprised the vast majority of the sponsorship market -- far more than entertainment, causes, the arts, festivals, fairs and annual events. 

Sponsorships are activated today in far more robust ways -- the advertisements have improved, but so have the in-stadium, social media, and digital marketing methodologies. The only limit is creativity. 

Notice, in the stats I referred to earlier - over 17 billion dollars of revenue was from the North American sports sponsorship market. 

The growth market, the exciting place to be right now in sports… is the global market. 

In 2018, global sponsorship spending was 65 billion dollars around 70% of which was spent in sports - so the total market for sports sponsorship across the globe, was around 45 billion dollars. 

Teams are investing in their global reach more than ever - and it’s a perfect relationship. 

Here to talk about the growth of global sports sponsorships is my man Jason Clerkin, the Orlando Magic’s Sr Manager Global Partnership Activation -- here’s Jason:

Questions for Jason Clerkin, Orlando Magic Sr. Manager, Global Partnership Activation:

1: So excited to speak with you Jason – this has been a long time in the works! Let’s start a bit at the beginning and work our way up – undergrad at UCF in Sports Business Management – I’m pretty sure at that point you weren’t saying to yourself, I’m going to be the Sr. Mgr of Global Partnership Activation for an NBA team – you may not have even known what that was! 

So take us back a bit – what was the plan then, and why was working in sports the goal?

2: One of the most common questions we get from our audience is on “finding your fit” the old, “I love sports, what should I do for a career?” question. So how did you start to find your direction in the sports industry and discover your career path?

3: Your first gig after graduating – Florida Tuskers of the UFL working in corporate partnerships – to the best of my research you were there in 2010-2011…and the Tuskers folded in early 2011. 

I have also been part of an organization that shut down while I was working there – it can be a little nerve-wracking. What do you remember most about your introduction to the sports industry, your first gig, what you learned, and what it was like being out of your first job?

(I’m such a dork I spent 30 minutes this morning going through the 2009 roster of the Florida Tuskers.)

4: Undaunted, and staying in Orlando, which worked out nicely, you jumped to the Golf Channel. How different was it going from a struggling league like the UFL, to a thriving org like the Golf Channel?

5: At this point, you start getting into the ad sales and partnership roles – what did you like most about these opportunities?

6: 5 years later – there is a theme here – you jump to the Orlando Magic, so you are a Florida Man through and through. Corporate Partnership Account Manager. 

Explain the day-to-day objectives of a role in corporate partnerships?

7: You had major accounts - GEICO, State Farm, Southwest Airlines – some of the biggest brands in the world wanting to leverage the Magic brand to gain exposure. 

What would you say the split in focus for you between the business side (data, revenue projections, pitches) vs. relationship building and developing a mutually beneficial and friendly partnership with these massive brands?

8: So what does success look like for someone in Corporate Partnerships? What makes your boss say “Hell of a job Jason!”

9: August 2020 during the craziest year of our lives, you get promoted to Sr. Manager of Global Partnership Activation – what’s been the biggest change for you so far? What have been the biggest “Ah-Ha” moments as you navigate a more global perspective? 

10: We’re living in strange times – Amway Center, where the Magic play, seats 20,000 people… but with current conditions, you are allowing closer to 4,000 per game. This is a major avenue for exposure for your brand partners – the in-arena experience. 

How important has creativity been in developing new opportunities for partners? And what are you and your team doing to compensate for the loss of in-arena exposure?

11: What’s the early feedback from sponsors and partners, are they still invested and committed to the sports industry?

12: There is a word in your title that jumps out – Global – how important is it to have a global view as we move forward in sports? The reach of our sports goes way beyond our borders, is that an exciting part of the journey for you? 

13: We’ll finish up with this – thanks so much for the time and conversation.  As you look back, what do you think was the smartest move you made to prepare, or advance yourself in the sports industry? What one move really set you on your current path to career success?

 

Check out these clips from Jason Clerkin, ORLANDO MAGIC Senior Manager of Global Partnership Activation

 

Jason Clerkin explains the state of the sports industry through the lens of the ORLANDO MAGIC:

 


 

Jason Clerkin shares just how important the Magic's partnership with Disney is:

 


 

Jason Clerkin explains how and why the Orlando Magic leverage their global audience:

 


 


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