Havas Sports & Entertainment, a unit of the Paris-based Havas, is developing the sports part of its offering in the U.S. with the hiring of Mark Rothenberg. He will take the new post of senior vice president for sports.
Until now, HS&E's emphasis in the U.S. has been on the entertainment side through a Miami-based office headed by Manuel Reis, and Cake, HS&E's social-media arm.
Now, Rothenberg, based in New York, is tasked with developing the unit's sports expertise. He will work with several U.S.-based Havas agencies, including media shop MPG, Havas Digital, and creative shops Euro RSCG and Arnold.
Rothenberg will report to Maria Luisa Francoli, CEO of Havas Media North America and MPG Global, and Lucien Boyer, president and CEO of Havas Sports & Entertainment.
Given the appeal of sports to huge numbers of consumers, marketers are spending big-time to get their messages out to fans. According to the Sports Business Journal, the top 50 companies in the space spent $6.6 billion on sports marketing last year, up 27%.
Because marketers are interested in the segment, many agencies are honing their expertise in sports marketing as well. Earlier this month, GroupM's MediaCom unveiled a new unit, MediaCom Sport, and hired IMG veteran Marcus John to run it.
Other agencies are also in the space. At the beginning of the year, Horizon Media formed a new sports marketing and events division, and Interpublic has operated Octagon, the sports and entertainment marketing unit, for years.
Most recently, Rothenberg, a 25-year marketing veteran, was with Two River Consulting, a marketing consultancy focused on strategic planning and integrated marketing communications. Prior to that, he was executive vice president of marketing for Cox Enterprises, which purchased the agency he founded, Lifestyle Marketing Group, a sports and event marketing specialist.
Earlier, he helped establish Saatchi & Saatchi's sports-marketing network, and has worked with blue-chip clients such as General Motors, Hewlett-Packard, Johnson & Johnson, Gillette and others.
"As our clients continue to look to us to provide seamless media solutions across channels, our focus on integrated sports and entertainment solutions is a natural fit," stated Francoli.