Former NRL commercial boss Paul Kind launches sports marketing agency joint venture

Paul Kind

New agency: Kind

The former commercial head of the NRL Paul Kind has launched his own sports marketing agency which will concentrate on helping extract more value from events and sponsorships for marketers, codes and broadcasters.

The new agency, called Kind, is a joint venture with creative agency Bashful and will focus on leveraging the owned and earned media around sports and entertainment events to get greater commercial value from them.

Kind told Mumbrella the agency’s model would be managing things from “marketing through to on-field activation and managing commercial rights”.

Kind spent 12 years with the NRL as commercial director, a role in which he managed all aspects of the codes’ monetisation strategy from ticket sales through to corporate hospitality, event activations and sponsor and broadcaster integrations.

He pointed to that experience as helping to give him a differentiating factor for the agency over competitors, and said the agency would be looking to work across all spheres of entertainment.

NRL“If you understand what’s driving people’s passion you understand how to serve that passion through a sports or entertainment event,” he added. “If you respect that you will build loyalty and advocacy, but the core to sport and major events is you’ve got to understand what’s driving people and then all of your commercial outcomes will come.

“Globally there’s a lot of sports that have been too concerned about the commercial outcomes and not enough with the loyalty and advocacy which comes with the fan base, and certainly I think one of our propositions in the market was we could understand the drivers. The other was that my advice was based on years of experience at the coal face of the sport and understanding how major sport in this country works.”

The agency officially launched in November with clients including Fox Sports, TEG (the touring division of Ticketek), Star Casino, Netball Australia, Harvey Norman and Porsche Motor Racing.

Kind’s stint at the rugby code came to an abrupt end in February when he was “dismissed” from the role after an internal inquiry found he had breached its code of conduct around conflicts of interest.

He was reluctant to be drawn on the events which led up to his exit saying: “I don’t want to look back and talk a lot about leaving, it’s nearly a year ago and a lot has changed at the NRL since then.”

However, he pointed to the fact that one of the NRL’s biggest sponsors Harvey Norman and its CEO Katie Page had signed up with the fledgling business as a demonstration his reputation is still intact.

“I finished in February and I had a decision to make on what was the next step off the back of that,” he said. “I made the decision my next step should be in self-employment, and establishing a new business in partnership.”

That partnership sees Kind team up with former rival and long-time friend Simon Bookallil at Sydney independent agency Bashful. The duo were rivals when Bookallil had Spin Communications and Kind worked for Brian Walsh’s PR and events business.

Simon Bookallil

Bashful founder Bookallil

As part of the deal Kind will share back-end services including digital and creative with Bashful, but hire strategists and sports specialists to drive the thinking around the business.

Asked why he entered into the partnership Bookallil said: “We’re cut from the same cloth, we have the same vision around paid and owned media. Sports bodies have got the content and entertainment vehicles people want to talk about it’s about creating those sort of leverage and ideas people want to talk about.”

He added the agency wanted to create its own earned events, with two already in the pipeline, and help codes “innovate” on their existing formats as a way to keep fans engaged pointing to Kind’s success with events like the Auckland Nines and Indigenous All Stars in the NRL.

“Really in this world it’s about great strategic thinking and how you leverage those owned and earned platforms,” said Bookallil.

“Sporting bodies are massive publishers who have millions of fans across their assets and content screens all over stadiums. It’s about how you story tell across that massive owned network. You need digital smarts, social smarts and you need great stories to tell. That’s our focus.”

Kind said there was huge need for marketers, codes and broadcasters to extract more value out of the new multi-billion dollar NRL and AFL sports deals they had hatched in order to maximise a return on investment.

“Sports rights values are going up, and codes are benefitting from that across the board,” he added. ” There are lots of sponsors looking at it wanting to be part of it because they know it’s a passion point, plus the direct access they get to fans through things like club databases.”

NCAA college bowl berkley hawaiiHe also said there was a large opportunity in the increasing number of one-off events coming to Australia, pointing to one of the agency’s first pieces of work in launching the US College Football match between University of California, Berkeley and University of Hawaii in December.

“One-off events are driving the sports calendar more and more, and that’s being involved in working with promoters and alongside broadcasters. Look at the success of the College Football, MLB, ICC Champions Cup football – those big one-off sporting events are growing in the calendar but the recipe needs to be right, the mix of what that is needs to be right, and we will end up working in that space,” he added.

Asked where they saw the business being in a year Bookallil said: “The next 12 months is really about managing the pipeline of work we have right now.

“We’ve got a number of hires on the table, I believe we would like to have one owned event and we have a couple out in market right now we believe will get up, and some great case studies under our belt.”

Alex Hayes


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