SEAT London 2016 – a boat-load of learning!

If you weren't at SEAT London 2016 that took place last week at Chelsea FC’s Stamford Bridge then you seriously missed out! You didn't just miss out on the impressive location, ample networking opportunities, great food and inspirational panellists, but on the VIP treatment each guest received – including a cocktail event hosted on a yacht that sailed into the sunset down the Thames!

This was my second SEAT event and for me this year packed in even more, well, EVERYTHING. I learned so much from the great breakout sessions on both days; the diverse range of key influencers of world sport in attendance gave some great perspective on many current #sportsbiz topics, and sailing down the Thames sipping champagne with my peers was incredible!

So what did I learn? Well, as my title says: a boat load! Here’s the two days of SEAT squeezed into bite-size chunks to recap the event for those that were there, and to tempt those that couldn't make it into joining us next time.

Dan Migala – king of the soundbite!

Kicking off the 2 day event was a keynote from Dan Migala – CIO at PCG & SportsDesk Media, and twenty minutes in he said what many will agree was quote of the conference:

“Move at the speed of digital!”

This line was said so many times throughout the day, and no doubt many times since, but what was Dan referring to? Dan explained that sometimes we forget just how fast technology and digital is moving, and to keep up we need to move at the speed of digital. In every avenue of technology and digital – from venue, to social media, to wearables, and even virtual reality – we need to move at the speed of digital in order to engage with the passion of our fans.

In other sessions Dan continued dropping more sound bites, including,

“Revenue is a result not an objective”

This is a very interesting point given that so many in #sportsbiz believe the polar opposite. However, when you put it into context, Dan is totally right. If a rights holder were to put in place a thorough strategy, the correct tools (and technology), analyse their campaign results efficiently and effectively, and engage with their fans in the way they want to be engaged with, then revenue is absolutely a result. There was much debate around this quote during the session, so what do you think? Are you with Dan, or against?

The Role of CRM in Sponsorship – moving from QUANTITY to QUALITY

Winners’ co-founder Fiona Green moderated a fantastic panel on the role of CRM in sponsorship, and she was joined by some impressive panellists including Ben Wells, Founder of Well Said. Ben explained that as CRM evolves more of a role in sponsorship we’ll see a shift – from quantity to quality – powered by not only an increase in data, but an increased understanding of data, and the power it can give both sides of a sponsorship deal.

Dan Migala went on to say that “We need to "think like a fan" when implementing sponsorship activation and marketing.”, and Steven Ziff (Vice President of Marketing and Digital Media at Jacksonville Jaguars) echoed this sentiment by saying when it comes to sponsorship activations “we have to ask ourselves: does it enhance or does it interrupt?

Jerry Newman, Head of Digital for Chelsea FC, proudly declared that “some of our best content in the past 2 years has been with our partners” – referring to the ‘it’s blue. what else matters?’ Adidas campaign:


From this session the message was clear: sponsors and rights holders need to create contextual relevance in order to engage with fans. A logo-ridden backboard at a press-conference won’t cut it any more.

eSports – what are we waiting for?

Tom Halls, Head of Digital at Formula E, held an exciting keynote on how Formula E is leveraging eSports to gain a competitive edge with Millennials, and some of the figures he presented showed just how much potential this exciting new sports platform has:

  • 226m global viewers
  • $463m revenue
  • $800m market valuation
  • 75% viewers under 35

These are seriously impressive numbers considering the infancy of eSports. So how are Formula E implementing eSports exactly? They’re using it to engage fans during downtime between qualification and the live race! They've realised that eSports not only engages a much wider fan base than they would have with the usual routes to market, but with an average dwell time of 106 minutes they know they can monetise the down time, and have a two-way dialogue with their fans. I cannot wait to see how this develops, not just for Formula E but across other sports properties too.

SEAT Notable mentions

Other highlights from SEAT include Jon Burkhart’s BALLSY approach to real-time marketing, and how sports brands can engage their fans on social media. I’ve spoken before on what BALLSY means to Jon, and his performance at SEAT was thoroughly entertaining and eye opening!

On this point, Dan Migala yet again hit the nail on the head when he said that when it comes to real-time marketing “it’s okay to fail… fast is better than perfect” – case in point, when Oreo tweeted “Dunk in the dark” of course they could have used a different font, and the team could have spent time going through the usual corporate approval process… but if they had then they would have missed the opportunity.

And if you “do an Everton”, take it on the chin.

Everton failed tweet

Don’t forget the human element when it comes to engaging with fans, be it in the stadium or on social media.

Unfortunately I couldn’t fit all the great quotes from the event into this blog – but I recommend you check out #SEATLondon16 on Twitter to check the rest out.

If this blog has whet your appetite and you’d like to be at the next SEAT event, joining 1,000 of your industry peers for an interactive and engaging conference, then check registration information here. It’s being held in Las Vegas, so I guarantee you’ll experience even more learning, more networking, and a whole lot more champagne!