Ben Bold
Jan 18, 2024

M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment repositions as 'the passions agency'

The repositioning comes after global CEO Steve Martin and UK CEO Jamie Wynne-Morgan resigned.

M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment is celebrating its 20th anniversary.
M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment is celebrating its 20th anniversary.

M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment is ditching the idea of reaching homogeneous groups of consumers via traditional fandom marketing and will instead help brands reach communities of fans via their array of interests and passions.

The announcement of its repositioning comes as M&C Sport & Entertainment celebrates 20 years of existence, and just over a month after it announced a number of senior management changes, including the departure of its global and UK chief executives and a new management structure.

The agency said it is "supercharging its strategic offer and doubling down on its position as the passions agency". It has conducted research and published a report that found 63% of people use their passions to engage with others in real life.

The report, Fandom is Dead. Welcome to Fancom, was produced by a newly formed in-house "strategic collective" at the heart of the repositioning, called Passion Pulse.

With this shift in emphasis, the agency said, it will seek to help brands connect individual consumers to one another, via communities, rather than simply connect brands directly with consumers.

The agency said it will build "fancom" using a tool that uses research, data and strategy processes, AI and human expertise.

Laura Coller, M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment's managing director, explained: "This demands a shift in how we look at audience needs and we believe there has been a demonstrable move away from the tropes of traditional fandom, towards what we call 'fancom'. Away from mass homogenised groups following a single attitude and towards communities coalescing around intersectional interests and behaviours."

The Passion Pulse collective quizzed 2,016 people and uncovered 8,276 passions, "meaning that the average person has at least 4.1 passions" and that "25% have at least seven".

Coller continued: "For brands, that's a minimum of between four and seven different opportunities to connect and, with the study highlighting that fans have an overall commitment score of 8.4 out of 10 to their passions, these opportunities are too good to miss, which is why I'm proud to launch Passion Pulse, an expanded strategic offer comprising the brightest thinkers at the heart of sport and entertainment culture."

The report cites examples of this approach—how it is helping Barclays create more opportunities for women and girls on and off the football pitch, tapping into their love of sport and their advocacy for gender equality; and how it worked with the NFL to tap into both sport and fashion among "London's culture crowd, with a hyper-local lens".

Strategy partner Neil Hopkins said the agency would no longer use the term "fandom", which suggests homogenised groups with a single shared interest. Instead the agency believes "the future of passion marketing is in 'fancom' which is a proprietary term we're adopting to represent coalescing fan communities and the opportunity for brands to be at the centre of them."

At the end of November, M&C Saatchi restructured its UK operations under a single P&L, bringing four key subsidiaries, including the London ad agency and the sport and entertainment agency, into one "super group."

For the sport and entertainment subsidiary, this saw Carlo Noseda, chief executive of M&C Saatchi in Europe and president of M&C Saatchi Italy, heading a newly created M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment Europe, spanning the UK, Germany and the Netherlands.

The shake-up came after two senior, long-serving executives resigned—Steve Martin, the global chief executive of M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment, and Jamie Wynne-Morgan, the UK chief executive of M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment. Both were leaving following a period of gardening leave, the company said.

At the time, a person familiar with the company played down suggestions that M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment might be dialling back its ambitions outside Europe, saying it will still service global clients and pointing to its M&A strategy as evidence of expansion plans.

Last September, M&C Sport & Entertainment hired Bukola Garry, former head of diversity, equity and inclusion at Adam & Eve/DDB, head of cultural impact, as well as appointing four managing partners.

Campaign UK

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