Why Sporting Events Have Become the Best Venues to Impress Clients

CAA Sports' Michael Levine says creative options are endless


Specs
Current gig Co-head, CAA Sports and Clio Sports Awards juror
Base New York
Age 43

Adweek: Last month, CAA Sports formed CAA Premium Experience, a hospitality marketing division. I have a feeling we're not talking about box seats and hot dogs, are we?
Michael Levine: [Laughs] Box seats and hot dogs could be part of it if you so desire. … The thing most people don't realize is that most Fortune 500 companies are looking to create and provide some sort of unique experience either for their staff, through employee incentive programs, or for existing customers or potential customers. We're really jazzed by some of the unique and creative ideas that have been brought to life for some of our customers, like having senior executives having a chance to cook alongside award-winning chefs, or to participate in mock Shark Tank events. There is no limit to what this group could do with our existing agents and executives.

Why have sporting events, more than other forms of client entertainment, become such a hot ticket?
Sports have been vital in the breakthrough of clutter that exists with today's fragmented media landscape. It's the only real-time must-see TV that exists on the programming schedule, and because of that, the event itself has risen in prominence among passionate and even casual fans.

CAA Sports works with FC Barcelona and the Chelsea Football Club. What's your prediction about U.S. pro soccer?
We're very bullish on the sport, globally. We're really impressed with the steps that commissioner [Don] Garber and his team have taken with Major League Soccer. We have been working closely with the league and its leadership for almost eight years, and we think soccer in this country is going to make strides and become a more and more important player in the global football landscape over time.

Thoughts about fantasy sports as a marketing platform?
We've been working with Madison Square Garden as its exclusive sales agent for the past five years, and they just closed a deal with [fantasy sports site] DraftKings. The daily fantasy category isn't going anywhere. The two leaders in the space are DraftKings and FanDuel, and collectively they may end up being the No. 1 category of advertising in sports over the next 12 months. It's something that's here to stay based on how teams and leagues are beginning to embrace something they at one time had been uncomfortable with.

OK, so when you're home kicking back, what's your favorite sport to watch?
Oh, that's a very tough question. I'm a fan of many sports. That being said, I don't think there's anything quite like the ritual of Sunday football and the NFL.

This story first appeared in the July 6 issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.