• Andy Marston

Networking with Marcel Blijlevens, Communications Director Publicis Groupe

For the latest edition of the Sports Pundit Networking Series , I caught up with Marcel Blijlevens, a communications director at Publicis Groupe who is aiming to make the switch into the sports industry after 25 years working in advertising.

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

My journey in the sports industry has not actually started yet. Because in my work for Publicis Groupe Netherlands, I am still mainly involved in advising clients (i.e brands) on the support of their campaigns with paid media. Although I still enjoy media consultancy work, my goal is - after more than 25 years working in the advertising industry - to make a switch to sports marketing and/or the business of sports.

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

There is no specific person who has inspired me. I have always been interested in the business side of sports but about five years ago, I started reading more and more about it.

I've always been a bit of a bookworm, reading a lot about marketing and brand management, but after ever since my first book on sports marketing (by Larry Degaris, an American writer), I've only devoured books about that topic, or about business or sports, which is not exactly the same.

I could share a long list of writers with you, but here are a few that need to be mentioned: Ardih Kolah (Improving the Performance of Sponsorship); Bettina T. Cornwell (Sponsorship in Marketing) and last but not least… a current one… Sponsorship Strategy by Ken Ungar.

I also really want to mention Kieran Maguire... his book 'The Price Of Football' - about the financial aspects of a professional football club - was very instructive for a marketing consultant like me.

Besides Sports Pundit, where do you look for insight?

All major sports marketing news outlets, from SportsPro Media, Front Office Sports, and SportBusiness, to the Financial Times and Forbes SportsMoney. The tweets of Swiss Ramble and Vysyble are also really useful, too. I could go on for a while. I am constantly looking for new insights to learn from...

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

I still consider myself as a media man, and from that point of view, I am very curious about how the value of the media rights of various leagues and sports will develop in the upcoming years. In Europe, several experts are pessimistic about this value development, whilst North American leagues such as the NFL and the NBA (due to the cutthroat competition between TV/OTT channels in the USA), are more or less counting on the fact that the value of their domestic media rights will almost double.

Photo Credit: Michael Regan/ Getty Images

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

If the value of media rights continues to rise (note the word 'if'), it’s good for the sport properties, like clubs, governing bodies and individual athletes, etc. But it is also good for sports enthusiasts, because it means that a sport can continue in its professionalization. Again, some European experts are a bit pessimistic about the market here and I think the recent extension of the Premier League's domestic media rights is an example of this, as the period of continuous growth couldn’t go on forever.