• Andy Marston

Networking with Ged Colleypriest, Founder of Underdog Sports Marketing

Welcome to the the Sports Pundit Networking Series. For the latest edition, I caught up with Ged Colleypriest, founder of Underdog Sports Marketing. After working in sponsorship at both talkSPORT and Ball Street, Ged applied what he learnt across the roles by starting his own agency.

When did your journey (in the sports industry) start? And how did you get to your current role?

My journey in the sports industry started when I moved to talkSPORT to work in the sponsorship team. Working in Anthony Hogg’s (Players Tribune, Unscripted, Third Man Run) team, we got to do some great stuff with some fantastic brands. I loved the fact that programming would always help you work with a brand to come up with something creative. Content that worked for the audience, the presenters and the brand. So rather than shunning a brand to the ad break, we had them at the heart of the editorial, giving them much more exposure.

After becoming Head of Sponsorship at talkSPORT, I joined another old colleague Matt Wilson at Ball Street, an agency in the football influencer space. Which taught me a huge amount about digital content and about how a young business works.

After three years there, I wanted to take what I’d learnt in both jobs and apply those skills to the traditional sponsorship space, so I set up Underdog. I felt (and still do) that there’s lots more room to be creative and go beyond just ‘Official Partner of…’ and create something that fans will genuinely care about.

Who inspired this journey? And who continues to inspire you today?

The most exciting part of the journey has been running my own agency. Ultimately it was my wife who gave me the confidence to take the plunge. It was the right stage in my career but I needed the nudge to cut the safety blanket of being a salaried employee. Starting without a founding client made it harder in the early stages. Likewise, making the decision to not work with bookmakers made the task doubly daunting.

However, knowing that I had her support made it possible to get through the hard yards and build a business with a great set of clients.

Besides Sports Pundit, where do you look for insight?

Sports Pundit is genuinely a go-to source of insight every week...in fact, it’s not even go-to because it comes straight to me!

I won’t be the first to say this but I love the Unofficial Partner podcast. It’s proof that insight can come with personality. The range of guests is fantastic, so you can learn from industry leaders across the sporting spectrum. Better still, there’s plenty of opinion and it comes with balance and nuance; things which are hard to come by in the modern media landscape.

The Price of Football is another must listen, shining a light on the finances of football. It’s never dry and is always accessible. It’s equally as appealing to the fan on the terrace as it is the finance director.

Sometimes the best insight you can glean is from fans though. The regulars in The Covered End at Charlton or the Hazell Terrace in Newport will give you an unfiltered dose of insight that takes you out of the marketing bubble very quickly! And ultimately, these are the people that clubs and brands are trying to engage with.

What trend in the industry most excites you for the future of sports? And why?

The rise of women’s sports has to be the most exciting trend. To see women’s football, rugby and cricket being broadcast and reported on in the same vein as their male counterparts is massively encouraging. What’s more, big brands are getting involved because they can see the value there. I can only see it becoming bigger and bigger and I think that the smart rights holders see the benefit it has to society as well as just the dollar signs.

Photo Source: Instagram / @TashFarrant

P.S. Check out our recent article on The Hundred: A Win for Women's Sport

Who is an example of someone that is well positioned to take advantage of this trend?

I hope that the main beneficiaries will be at grassroots level to be honest. Elite sport is great and nobody enjoys the drama of it more than me but there is so much more to sport than this. There are so many positive things that sport can add to someone’s life. From combating obesity to improving mental health, there is so much to be gained.

But none of that is possible if there isn’t a clear pathway. As exciting as it is that brands and broadcasters are adding money and profile, there’s so much investment that’s needed at grassroots and school level. If that can come from rights holders and the government then hopefully a brighter, more active future lies ahead.

Photo Source: Eugene Civic Alliance

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