As WorkInSports’ VP of Content and Engaged Learning Brian Clapp “researched” the world of sports marketing and agencies with a viewing of Jerry Maguire, he considered that Tom Cruise and Cuba Gooding Jr.’s work was not necessarily the most realistic portrayal of the industry. Regardless, that viewing (probably) helped in prepping for his latest WorkInSports Podcast guest, Vayner Sports Chief Marketing Officer Mike Neligan. Listen to the full episode above and subscribe wherever you listen to the WorkInSports Podcast!
In the past, elite athletes would choose their agents based on their ability to get massive long-term contracts. Think Scott Boras playing hardball and landing a record-breaking contract for Alex Rodriguez.
While this area of the job is still important today, times have changed. Now, athletes are looking deeper into the broader opportunities an agency can provide outside of just their on-the-field contract. Now, they want to know:
• Can you help me build my personal brand, my influence?
• Can you help me get an equity deal with a company I believe in?
• Can you help me leverage social media, NFTs, and Name, Image, and Likeness?
• Can you help me build my foundation, leave an impact, develop a community?
A little background into the company Mike Neligan represents, Vayner Sports: Greg Genske is one of the most successful sports agents of the past few decades, negotiating over $4 billion in player contracts. Greg is a master contract negotiator extracting amazing deals for his clients.
In 2020, Greg took his successful agency and aligned it with Vayner Sports to create Vayner Baseball. Greg identified that the demands of the players were changing, and it wasn’t enough to offer incredible contract skills; you needed more from the marketing and branding side.
Enter Gary Vee (Vaynerchuk) and Mike Neligan. Gary Vee is the CEO of VaynerX and Vayner Media – and is one of the most disruptive forces in social and digital media. He’s built a huge brand and following from scratch, become an internet celebrity, authored six books, and genuinely tries to change the world one day at a time.
Gary loves sports, so in 2016 he built his own sports agency to go along with his media empire. Vayner Sports started out as a football agency working with Pro Bowl-level talent like Leonard Williams and Allen Robinson.
When Mike came on board as CMO, he brought an amazing background in baseball. Having worked with big names like Derek Jeter and Clayton Kershaw, he knew how to market big-time athletes.
His creation, Vayner Sports, is becoming the most disruptive and innovative brand in sports agency.
In this interview, Mike takes us through his journey to where he is today. We discussed the following:
1. How his background in sports journalism helped him jump into his current career.
2. The importance of writing in this field and other skills that are paramount to succeed in marketing.
3. The humanity behind the larger-than-life personas of big-time athletes.
4. Using Name, Image, and Likeness as a public relations arm for brands.
Listen to the full episode and subscribe to the WorkInSports Podcast wherever you get your podcasts to get more inside info from the sports industry today!