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WoSJ Exclusive; Merrick Haydon on sponsorship and travelling to Dubai for a coffee

Tuesday, 07 February 2012

Merrick Haydon - a familiar face in the press room. All photos by Jenny Abrahamsson. When traveling around at different shows during the year, there are some people you always meet at certain shows. During the Rolex events we normally find one or two British polite and well dressed men. These men are in charge of the Champagne bottle in the press room which is given to the member of the accredited press who guesses the right winner of the Rolex event. A very important job of course, but we had a feeling that these well dressed men had more responsibility than just handing over the champagne - which is why we got hold of one of these gentlemen to find out what they actually do.

Our British target was Merrick Haydon, Director of Revolution Sports Marketing Group. Merrick launched Revolution Sports together with Rod Kohler back in 2003 after working with three other big sport agencies. His business partner Rod has some of the same background as Merrick as they both have worked with sports marketing and developing sponsorship programmes and strategies for big clients such as  adidas, BMW and Coca-Cola.

How is Revolution Sports build? “We have our base in London where we have seven people employed. We also have strategic partners all over the world such as Toronto, Beijing and Johannesburg," Merrick says. "These partners are not employed within the company, but they help out arranging suitable offices, local information etc when events are held in other parts of the world for our clients.”"It is a big thing for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to compete at the Olympics, and we are trying to maximize their team profile and awareness internationally."

What do you do then? ”We use sport to promote a brand or company. We try and raise a profile of the sport and promote it to different audiences in order to provide awareness for its sponsors,” Merrick explains. “But you have to find the right sport for the right brands which matches the right people. For example you can promote an expensive watch brand by putting it in to sports such as polo and tennis. But you would never promote Burger King at a polo game,” Merrick continues with a smile.

“Now we have worked with the Saudi Arabian equestrian team in their way to qualify for the Olympics. Next week we have a photographer doing a behind the scenes shoot when the Saudi Arabian riders are training with an American trainer. These pictures will be promoted to Saudi Arabian media and launched on the Saudi Arabian equestrian website. It is a big thing for the  Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to compete at the Olympics, and we are trying to  maximize their team profile and awareness internationally,” Merrick continues.

"We also have two or three projects coming up in connection with the Olympics. It is a great opportunity to have such an event in London,” our British friend says with a proud smile.

"You can promote an expensive watch brand by putting it in to sports such as polo and tennis, but you would never promote Burger King at a polo game."And what different types of sports do you work with? "In addition to showjumping, polo, dressage and eventing, we work with sailing, golf, cricket, horseracing and rugby."

So you work a lot with Equestrian Sports, did you use to ride yourself? “I used to event, but when I started University I ran out of time and money. I have always been involved with horse racing though. I worked at several race courses and breeding studs.”

It seems like you have a busy schedule? “Yes, we travel all the time. Last Wednesday I travelled to Buenos Aires. Monday I went on to Sao Paulo and Rio, before I went back to London Wednesday. Then there was Paris Thursday, and back to London Saturday. I don’t get much time home, but I really like my work which makes it possible to keep on going. One time I even flew from London to Rio for a 45 minute meeting, and another time I left Dubai on a Saturday before I flew back for a coffee and to talk about work with a former client the following Monday.”Merrick is usually running from one meeting to the other - all around the world.

Is Revolution Sports planning on growing? “Our plans are to keep the agency at no more than 15 people. We don’t want to be a huge impersonal company. We want to stay quite small, but with a select group of happy clients,” Merrick concludes.

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