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Next-Generation Agencies In Action

Last month, we published our views on what sports agencies need to do to evolve and embrace the opportunities that spring from a rapidly growing sports technology market and the sports industry’s increased focus on innovation. We framed our insights as requirements for “The Next-Generation Sports Agency”.

This week, one of our clients, Octagon, and their sister IPG agency, R/GA, announced moves that position them to operate more effectively as a next-generation agency. Their initiative, which is an evolution and rebrand of the Los Angeles Dodgers Accelerator, is called the Global Sports Venture Studio.

This announcement highlights several behaviors that we recommend all agencies adopt in some capacity to harness the global sports tech craze. The sports tech market is moving too fast for any one organization to innovate alone.

Here’s what we like about how GSVS is evolving:

  1. It prioritizes sports tech and acknowledges the role tech will have in transforming sports. The Sports Innovation Lab tracks thousands of sports tech companies, so we see how they are pushing business model transformation across the world. The GSVS puts tech at the heart of what it is doing, and we believe that will be key to their success.

  2. It embraces open innovation. A big part of our next-generation agency design thinking includes establishing relationships with outside organizations like accelerators and academic labs. As an evolution of the Dodger’s Accelerator, GSVS has cut its teeth on how to make mentoring more inclusive and enable startup pitch days to scale.

  3. It brings different stakeholders to the table. A lot of teams and leagues are experimenting with accelerator programs and incubators. GSVS has done a good job of aligning different leagues, agencies, and brands to ensure conversations and requirements are sourced from different stakeholders as they nurture projects and startups.

  4. It elevates the role of sports tech startups. The Sports Innovation Lab has been evaluating emerging sports tech companies since our inception, and we are confident that these companies will contribute significantly to the evolution of the sports industry as well as adjacent industries. GSVS is going to add to this growing pool of new companies and build on their success as an investment vehicle. One of the hardest things for new companies to do is to navigate and break into the complex sports ecosystem. GSVS will give a select group of companies a head start.

  5. It combines complementary agency expertise. Octagon and R/GA are sister agencies with different areas of expertise. Their collaboration allows them to bring different but complementary skills to the table. Startups in the venture studio will benefit from the talent representation and sponsorship consulting expertise that Octagon delivers along with the full service digital capabilities that R/GA is best known for.

  6. Finally, it acknowledges the benefits of collaboration across sports genres and leagues. At the Sports Innovation Lab, we like to help our clients open up the aperture to understand how trends in health care cross over to sports, or how venue technology could impact smart cities. For its part, GSVS takes a big step forward by bringing together different leagues - MLB, MLS, and NHL - to share learnings and best practices and guide new ventures. This should help expand how these organizations view and adopt technologies that may not have been in their initial line of sight.

While no sports agency will transform overnight, this new venture and its reach across a number of different boundaries is a positive sign for the industry. As more barriers fall, we believe other agencies will adopt next-generation agency structures that accelerate innovation across sport globally.

For our part at the Sports Innovation Lab, we’re eager to continue supporting these agencies as they evolve their products and services so they have the latest data and insights they need to operate with clarity and confidence.

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