Welcome to Industry Insider by Behind Sport. Our latest guest is Ged Colleypriest, founder of Underdog Sports Marketing!
Tell us about yourself, what is your current role and what roles have you done previously?
My name is Ged Colleypriest and I’m the founder of a company called Underdog Sports Marketing. It was set up to help brands and rights holders create better sports partnerships. The kind that actually get fans excited about the brand and sponsors, rather than ignoring them, or worse still, seeing the sponsors as a disruption. Before setting up Underdog, I worked for a social media/content agency called Ball Street and prior to that I was Head of Sponsorship at talkSPORT. In both those roles, I was fortunate enough to work with people who wanted to create better partnerships and not treat the brand as an afterthought.
What do you do in your current role?
Underdog is a different set up to the usual agency model, in that I’m the only full-time member of staff. We recruit a specialist team to tackle a client’s objectives. That means that I do all sorts of different things, ranging from pitching for clients to taking care of invoices. Being at Ball Street gave me a good insight into working in a startup environment and how important it is to get your hands dirty. That’s held me in good stead for Underdog and I’ve taught myself how to do things that I would have never done before.
What does a normal week look like for you?
I know it’s a cliche but no two weeks are the same. Well, they are, but not very often! There’ll always be a healthy dose of new business involved, whether that’s lead generation or writing opinion pieces (either on LinkedIn or T he Underblog). I’ve had the fortune to work with some fantastic clients over the last two years. They range from established institutions like The Varsity Rugby Match (Oxford v Cambridge) that have 150 years of history, to startups like Exosuit (sports clothing company) right at the start of their journey.
How did you end up where you are right now? When did you know you wanted to work in sport?
I never envisaged working in sport, as I’m not much of an athlete, a jack of all trades. Slow but enthusiastic cyclist, competent goalkeeper (have gloves will travel) and an erratic swing bowler. But I’ve loved sport since I was 7. I know people say that you don’t need to love sport to work in it but I think it helps massively. My outlook has always been that of a fan first and someone who works in the industry second. It helps if you can understand what motivates fans before you start selling to them, and sports fans can be a cynical bunch.
I did try briefly to try and break into sports journalism but I ended up working at a media agency, Mindshare. After a few years there I was introduced to David Sequiera (now MD at Kenshoo) at talkSPORT who helped me get a job there in the sponsorship team. After moving into sport and being surrounded by it every day, I felt that I’d struggle to work outside of it.
What are you excited about in your industry at the moment?
It sounds perverse but I’m excited to see the amount of actual creativity that has come about in response to COVID19. The industry has needed to move beyond the 1980s model of sticking a logo on a jersey for a long time. There have always been great campaigns and companies who do it better than others but right now, everyone is forced into thinking outside the box. There are sure to be some dark times ahead for the industry but the rights holders who are able to reinvent themselves and do the best work will give themselves the best chance to thrive in the future.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone wanting to work in the sports industry?
Learn from each mistake you make. This was always one of my biggest faults, I’d take criticism to heart rather than looking at how it’d make me better. It can be a tough industry to break into but if it’s what you want to do, then keep persevering and get better. Being persistent and resilient are such underrated qualities, but they’ll serve you well in sport, whatever area you choose.
Any social links you want to plug?
Thanks for reading our Industry Insider feature with the Founder of Underdog Sports Marketing, Ged Colleypriest!