Backed by WPP, Bruin Sports Capital Acquires an Experiential Marketing Company

Engine Shop knows sports and entertainment

Bruin Sports Capital, a global media and marketing venture company backed by a WPP-led investment group, has acquired Engine Shop, an experiential marketing agency with expertise in the sports, entertainment and lifestyle sectors.

Engine Shop has 55 employees and offices in markets including New York, Los Angeles, Miami and Atlanta. Engine Shop chief executive Brian Gordon and his management team—including president Chris Handy and chief marketing officer Ed Kiernan—will continue to lead operations. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

"We have always strived to employ a more creative, more innovative and more independent-minded approach to the marketing services agency model," Gordon said. "BSC's collective experience and investment will provide Engine Shop with the tools we need to scale our business and provide more opportunity for our people and better services for our clients."

From BSC's perspective, adding Engine Shop provides the company with an operating unit that has gained a reputation for innovation in the events marketing space. "Our experience building and operating businesses and access to long-term capital will help enhance Engine Shop's ability to accelerate their growth," said BSC CEO George Pyne.

Engine Shop's notable work across a range of clients includes:

  • The creation and management of the Mercedes-Benz Evolution Tour, supporting the successful launch of the CLA and GLA models, with music events in markets nationwide.
  • Producing Inc. magazine's annual Growco conference, a three-day gathering for entrepreneurs and business leaders, with speakers including Jessica Alba and Mark Cuban, and performances by leading music acts.
  • Overseeing all aspects of ESPN's annual Super Bowl weekend party, which was sponsored in 2015 by Diageo, Mercedes-Benz and MillerCoors, among others, and featured shows by Questlove and Charlie XCX.

BSC has raised $250 million in equity capital, which it says provides $500 million in buying power. In March, the company, in partnership with RedBird Capital Partners, took a stake in NFL On Location, the National Football League's hospitality and events arm. BSC and RedBird now run the unit's day-to-day operations.

"WPP's investment in sports and content through Bruin Sports Capital is an important part of its strategy as it impacts new markets, new media, data investment management and the application of technology," said Martin Sorrell, CEO of WPP, when BSC launched last year. "GroupM, our wholly owned media investment management company, manages over $100 billion in billings, and there is growing interest on the part of clients that it invests some of that portfolio in content and sports."